Ever since I started Stock Gumshoe as a little “nights and weekends” project back in the Spring of 2008, we’ve made an effort to “give back” in some substantial way — we’ve given to a dozen or so different charities over the years, and every year we’ve set a new record for how much we (well, really you) have been able to give.
How do we do this? Well, for several years in a row now we’ve had a charitable membership drive — we always need new paying members to join the Irregulars (you’ve probably noticed that Stock Gumshoe hosts advertising so that we can provide a lot of content for free members, too, but paid members cover more than half of our annual budget), so we try to make it a “win win” and build up our membership rolls at the same time that we’re doing something for the greater good.
And we only do a membership drive once a year, so we like this to be BIG — we’re not talking about donating 3% of the profits to charity, we shoot for 50% of revenues to charity from this membership drive.
So… if you sign up to join us as an Irregular, I will make a donation equal to half of your payment.
What are the Irregulars, and what’s a “premium member?” They’re the same thing, the Stock Gumshoe Irregulars (the name is borrowed from Sherlock Holmes) are our paid members, they keep the site going and get a few extra benefits as a result — including a weekly commentary I write just for them called the Friday File, the details of my personal Real Money Portfolio and the buys and sells I make, the ability to start your own discussion threads, and a quick little summary of every new teaser article.
I’d like to tell you that it’s my prescient analysis of the stocks I buy and sell that drives new readers to our door, but a lot of our members tell me that Quick Take box is the main reason they subscribe — it’s a great time saver for those who can’t stand to read my long and blathery articles (you get the name of the newsletter, the stock they’re teasing, and a couple quick sentences summarizing the story or my opinion).
How do we get the donation pot to be larger? We’re going to add a couple days to make it a longer time period, bumping our campaign up to a lucky 13 days, and I’m going to donate an amount equal to not just half of all new member contributions, but half of all upgrades as well.
I hope we’ll hit a new record again.
Here are the nuts and bolts:
All of our Irregulars receive the same content and access, the different levels just cover different time periods — you can sign up for $7/month or $59/year on an ongoing basis, and get locked in at that price for as long as you remain a member, or you can commit to Platinum “lifetime” membership for $299 up front (nonrefundable) and never pay anything again.
How to do it:
Or if you do have a username (you can log in as a free member to comment and such, and it recognizes your name up at the upper right of the page), then click here if you would like to upgrade (that way you can keep the same username and password — if you don’t remember your username, just contact us).
And this is important: If you’re upgrading to “Platinum” but already have an ongoing monthly or annual membership, please contact us and we’ll make sure to cancel that other ongoing membership for you so you don’t get charged for renewals in the future.
In case you’re already a paid member and your renewal doesn’t come up during this time period, I’ll also give you one more little jolt to help inspire an upgrade this year:
As you might have noticed, we offer a “Platinum” membership — it’s the same as the other memberships, you get the same commentary and information, but it’s good for life with no renewals (and no, we don’t charge a “maintenance fee” or anything for these memberships). We tend not to lose many Irregulars each year, and the Platinum membership isn’t such a good deal for us financially — so it’s about to change. In case you were thinking of upgrading to “lifetime” membership, we’ve got a one-time inducement to see if we can drive our donation amount higher this year.
Is it “on sale” now? No, we don’t do sales — but the last spur to action for you is that Platinum membership will be going up in price at the end of this membership drive. Not sure what the new price will be, we’ll have to get the number crunching done, but if you want “lifetime” access to Stock Gumshoe for $299 this is your last chance at it. It will be at least 10-20% more expensive in the new year.
(Why is it called “Platinum?” Because the credit card folks don’t like us to call it a “lifetime” membership. What you get is a membership in the Stock Gumshoe Irregulars for as long as this site and service exists, no renewals ever. In case you’re worried about actuarial considerations, I’m 48 and in good health… and Stock Gumshoe is well into its eleventh year, and I’m not planning on stopping.)
There is a key note here, though: Platinum memberships are NOT refundable. We cheerfully offer refunds on the annual and monthly memberships when requested, since those cover the current time period and it’s only fair to give you back your money if you don’t want to remain a member — but with the Platinum level, you’re investing in Stock Gumshoe’s future and we’re going to spend the money improving the site and covering our costs… so you can’t have it back.
And here’s my charitable promise, to be clear:
I will make a charitable contribution equal to half of Stock Gumshoe’s new member subscription payments and upgraded memberships over the next 13 days. So for every new or upgraded annual member in the Irregulars ($59), I’ll donate $29.50; for every Platinum membership ($299), I’ll donate $149.50. Same for any new first-time members who sign up for the monthly version. We’re not taking out the credit card processing or bank fees, or any of our other expenses — half of the top line number between now and December 23 goes to charity.
No, you can’t claim this as a charitable deduction, they don’t “pass through” that way (though if you itemize your investing costs, like advisory fees or a Barron’s subscription, people tell me membership in Stock Gumshoe might also be deductible — this isn’t as flexible as it used to be, and I don’t know what the current rules are, so please check with your tax person).
Which cause? I’ll be asking the key folks who keep Stock Gumshoe running to choose causes that are important to them, and that will be a portion of the donation… and I have a couple causes that are near and dear to my heart in our local area, particularly those fighting homelessness and hunger, so those will receive gifts… but I do also want to give you the opportunity to help us choose.
So here’s what we’re going to do… sign up to join us as a new member, and then go below and post a comment proposing a charitable cause that you think deserves some extra funding. We will look at the proposed charities in the comments below, make sure that they aren’t obviously controversial or political or otherwise inappropriate, and support those that get the most “thumbs up” from other members. I’ll make the final decision, with your input.
I’m sure that the causes we end up supporting won’t all be your top choices, so I hope you’ll also support the causes that are important to you — if it’s a choice between joining the Stock Gumshoe Irregulars and making a donation to your favorite charity, please do the latter, we love the support of our members and depend on the Irregulars, but no one at Gumshoe HQ is missing any meals.
So that’s the story — will you help us to strengthen Stock Gumshoe for the year ahead, letting us put more into improving the site and sharing compelling commentary and ideas with you? If so, you can rest assured with the knowledge that you’re also helping someone else… maybe a homeless veteran, a sick family in an impoverished land, a victim of natural disaster, a hungry neighbor, we’ll see which causes rise to the top.
I hope you’ll join us this year, if you haven’t already — and I hope you are experiencing a life full of blessings. I know I am, and working on your behalf for these past 11 years has been near the top of the list — thank you.
And of course, whether or not you choose to cough up some dough and join us or upgrade — I hope you’ll keep reading. We do love all of our readers, even those who give us only their (valuable) attention. Thanks for making Stock Gumshoe a part of your investing life.
P.S. Thanks again for considering joining us as a paid Irregular (or upgrading to Platinum membership) during this charitable membership drive — we’ll tally up all membership payments between now and December 23 to figure out what the donations will be, and will make the final call on reader-supported donation ideas so I can get those gifts out the door by the end of the year — if you’re able, please join today and make your charitable suggestions (or thumbs up to other suggestions). Any questions? Just click here to contact us.