The beginning of a New Year is always an occasion for looking back at past accomplishments (and failures), and to look ahead too, at what the New Year may bring. And as 2016 opens, it’s clear that MIA has reached a crossroads moment. We can look back and see many accomplishments, and we can look ahead and see many exciting opportunities. But we also have to confront a challenge: we need to figure out how to sustain our operations.
We started this webzine nearly five years ago, and as our mission statement declares, our goal was to create a forum—and a community—for “rethinking psychiatric care in the United States and abroad.” We do believe that we have created such a forum, one that is having an impact. We now get an average of 150,000 unique visitors each month, and our readers come from many countries. What we haven’t accomplished in these five years is generate the revenues needed to cover even our very limited expenditures.
We have, since our start, operated as a C corporation. We raised $120k from investors, but not with the thought that this would ever be a “profitable” operation. The hope was that, with this initial investment, we could build a readership and then figure out a way to generate the needed revenues. And even though we have operated on a shoestring (and in a way, as a quasi-volunteer organization), we have always operated at a loss.
In 2015, our revenues—once we have closed our books—will be about $45,000. Most of this came from reader donations. Unfortunately, our expenses for the year will be about $80,000, which means we will have spent $35,000 more than we took in. Our cash on hand at the end of 2015 is about $15,000, which means that at our current run rate, we have about five months of life left. (I have attached a link to our P&L statement for the first 11 months of 2015, and our balance sheet as of November 30, 2015.)
But we have plans, of course, for a very different future, one that will involve our expanding our activities, and in important ways.
This past summer, we applied to the IRS to convert to a non-profit. In November, the IRS granted Mad in American Foundation 501 (C) (3) status. As of January 1, 2016, we began operating as a non-profit. Any donations to Mad in America Foundation will be tax-deductible. As part of this conversion process, the remaining assets of Mad in America, Inc. will be transferred to the non-profit.
As a non-profit, we can now approach charitable organizations for support, both to sustain existing operations and to fund our new initiatives. At the same time, we will launch a fundraising campaign on January 15, asking our readers to provide the support we need to keep going. At that time, we will detail our plans for 2016, so please stay tuned.
We believe this is a time for great optimism about what MIA, operating as a non-profit, may accomplish in the coming year. We see this community as a grass-roots, collective effort for change. We thank all of you who have provided financial support to us in the past year, and look forward to your continuing support in 2016.