SHOULD MEEBAL BECOME A NON PROFIT? – This is the question that’s been on the minds of meebal.com’s creators since it launched late 2012.
We never wanted to be listed as one of the mainstream news websites. For starters there is not a single journalist in the house and nobody here pretends to be a journalist. Ask any of us down the pub what we do and you’ll get the answer; “We write news articles, we write about what’s going on and we provide an opinion in order to generate healthy debate.”
That’s it in a nutshell. The idea has also been extended so that anyone, from anywhere, can provide the editor with a news story so that they can publish what they have discovered or simply to publish their views on a particular subject.
It is our strong belief that we are all fundamentally different although many of us have common goals and the reason meebal.com was set up is because its creators and founders felt that the news rarely provided the real truth and has never allowed real people to reflect their opinions.
The big question is does this give the founders the right to profit from the content that is published? That question leads us to this current debate because the principle founder, Graham Briar, doesn’t feel it is ethical to do so.
Practicality states that without an income no business can survive; this is a fact that is undeniable. However how do you make money without making profit?
The answer to that conundrum lies within becoming a non-profit; that is any profits made must be used so that the balance sheet show a profit of zero; well that’s the accounting principle although in the real world this never happens.
When we first started looking at the concept of a non-profit we quickly realized that creating such an entity has to be fully and unequivocally transparent. Nothing can be hidden and meebal.com users must, at all times, be able to see what is happening and where the profits are going.
Now that it’s clear that we have to create trust from our users; something that isn’t going to develop overnight, we needed to decide on what to do with any profits we may make.
Initially the idea was to simply hand over profits by dividing them up and giving them to well known charities. However we think this concept is flawed because once we hand over any profits the way in which the money is used is completely out of our hands.
We went back to the drawing board and it was less than 24 hours later that Graham announced he had just written an article on a little boy that desperately needed an operation so that he could walk unaided. The NHS, that’s the British National Health Service, denied Oliver Dockerty the operation for various reasons, and so a fundraiser was set up so that Oliver could be sent to the U.S.A and receive the treatment required. Read the article
It was then that the light came on. Why couldn’t meebal.com use its profits for causes like Oliver’s? This covered two critical areas; firstly it would allow us to ensure that any profits were used in an ethical way and secondly we could report on the progress on any such case that would allow our users to see exactly where the money was going; this would create the trust needed to operate such a business.
So why are we asking you whether meebal.com should become a non-profit?
The answer to that lies within how we generate an income. We cannot, or rather will not display Google Ads, due to their profiteering from child pornography and terrorist related material. We can of course attempt to attract mainstream advertisers that would allow us to cherry-pick who we allow to advertise; but that’s difficult in the start-up stage and without millions of visitors almost impossible – we’ll have to wait until we’ve grown a bit.
A possible solution is ‘INFOLINKS’; these links appear within the text we publish. From our research some readers find this annoying whilst others are not too bothered providing they are kept to a reasonable level; say two or three per article.
We’ve also considered ‘Donations’ that is asking our readers to keep us going. The issue here is that many people are struggling themselves and have little cash to spare.
The other option is to provide a fee based ‘Subscription’ service for our newsletter; that is charge a small fee to readers to receive a daily newsletter with all the news we’ve produced for that day.
So where do we go from here? That’s the interesting part because we think the decision should be yours. We are looking for you to share this article if you think meebal.com should pursue this venture. There are of course questions that need answering and we would really love your feedback.
If we can get the support we need to implement this business model then we will go with it and hopefully in the near future we will be able to help kids like Oliver.
Please leave your comments below and let us know if you think this is a good idea. If you have any suggestions we’re all ears.