Ever since I started Stock Gumshoe as a little “nights and weekends” project back in the Spring of 2007, we’ve made an effort to “give back” in some substantial way — we’ve given to at least a dozen 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 ranks of the Stock Gumshoe 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 and pester readers to sign up 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 charitable 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 their own discussion threads, and a “Quick Take” 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 keeps our paid readers happy, but a lot of our members tell me that Quick Take box is the main reason they subscribe and keep renewing — 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 this year? We’re going to again make it a longer time period, bumping our campaign up to TWO WEEKS, 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.
And don’t worry, this does still also work out well for Stock Gumshoe and allow us to invest in better infrastructure and continue to improve the site and the service we provide for you — mostly because we know that our members stick around and we can count on them (we’ve got a huge percentage of those initial readers who sent us contributions before we had a premium membership, and asked how they could support my work in 2007, still with us today, for which I’m very grateful).
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 (we have raised our prices every few years, to keep up with costs), or you can commit to Platinum “lifetime” membership for $329 up front (nonrefundable) and never pay anything again.
How to do it:
If you don’t have a Stock Gumshoe username, click here for the easy signup page, choose a username and password and a membership level and it will take just a couple minutes.
Or if you do have a username (you can log in, 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 or need help, just contact us).
And this is important: If you’re upgrading but already have an ongoing monthly or annual paid 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. (Hopefully we’ll catch all the duplicates on our end, but if you let us know you’ve upgraded then we can wear both belt and suspenders.)
And here’s my charitable promise, to be clear:
I will make charitable contributions equal to half of Stock Gumshoe’s new member subscription payments and upgraded memberships over the next 14 days. So for every new or upgraded annual member in the Irregulars ($59), I’ll donate $29.50; for every Platinum membership ($329), I’ll donate $164.50. Same for any new first-time members who sign up for the monthly version (that’s $7/month, so I’ll donate $3.50 for each). I’m 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 24 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). And it won’t technically be Stock Gumshoe, Inc. making the donations, it will be me… but I own 100% of Stock Gumshoe anyway, it just makes the bookkeeping easier.
Which causes? I make the final decision each year, but I’ll be asking the key folks who keep Stock Gumshoe running to choose charitable organizations 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.
I’m not supporting anything that I consider controversial or political or angst-inducing with these donations, but 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 charities 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 future, 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