Tone Madison really needs your help

We’re asking our (growing!) audience to help us push through the fall.

We’re asking our (growing!) audience to help us push through the fall.

We need your help to get Tone Madison through the fall. 

Between overhead, salaries, and compensation for our freelancers, we’ll need $30,000 to make it to December. Without those funds, we won’t be able to publish the same thoughtful, provocative culture and politics coverage for Madison that you are used to. This has been a year like no other for this publication, full of new opportunities and new problems. We have a solid plan to survive and thrive in the long run—but right now, our sights are set on surviving the short-term, and we need your help. 

For this short-term campaign, we are asking our readers to help us raise $10,000. A few generous folks in our audience have contributed to a matching fund that gives us a good start toward our goal, so know that other folks already have skin in the game with you. We hope to raise the rest of the $30,000 through new sponsorships.


How did we get here? Well, we grew at a modest pace and built up our capacity. Right now, we bring in most of our money directly from you, the audience. We also spend most of our money—84 percent, to be exact—on what matters, payroll and freelance pay, affording people the time and support their work requires. As a result, we’ve been able to publish even more work this year, all of it free to read. More people are reading it, too, but to be honest, we haven’t seen the same growth in financial support. We’re glad you’re enjoying what we publish (because we love writing and editing it), so if you want to read more of our stuff, we really need your support.

No one’s getting rich from Tone Madison, but we offer better freelance rates than most local and even many national outlets. Staff editors, including me, all make the same hourly wage. We have very low overhead costs and we don’t waste money on frivolous shit. If we’d gotten ourselves into this situation by renting offices on the Square or buying everyone on staff a pony, you’d be perfectly right to tell us and our appeal to go straight to hell, reunite there with “Nails’ Tales,” and leap from its weirdly textured peak into the eternal lake of fire to burn and scream in agony until the end of time.

When I say that we’re a lean and tiny publication, consider all the stories, newsletters, events, and other projects you see from Tone Madison. They all depend on us making very careful use of finite resources. In 2021, the whole damn thing that is Tone Madison cost just shy of $60,000 to run. In that time, we published 298 stories. So far in 2022, we have published 252. Sometimes we had a deep piece of reporting to share, sometimes we just followed our strange and joyful whims. We like both extremes equally. Based on the traffic numbers, so do you.

Point is, for each of those 550 stories over the course of 21 months, an entire sequence of things had to happen: Planning, research, writing, a hands-on round of initial edits, a copy edit for style and consistency, figuring out art, getting the post itself entered into the CMS, checking that for any errors, then hitting publish, then making sure it got out to people through our social media accounts and newsletters. This is time-consuming and it is not cheap. Doing it for less than six figures is pretty damned impressive, if I may brag a bit. All of it was free to read. And we don’t bombard you with annoying-ass paywalls or obtrusive ads or syndicated clutter while you’re trying to read. 

So if you, as readers, don’t chip in, none of this functions. At all. If you enjoy our work (hell, if you hate our work—admit it, you’d kinda miss us), and you’ve never donated, please know what we really do mean you when we say we need your help, that we rely on you. There’s a lot of you out there! If even, say, 15 percent of you who read Tone Madison can make a small recurring donation, $10 or $15 a month, our future will be a lot more secure. 

Here is how these donations literally, directly impact our ability to do what we do:

  • If you and a friend are each giving $10 per month, then over the course of the year your contribution makes a reported feature possible. 
  • If you’re feeling flush and you give us a one-time donation of $400, you just covered a couple weeks of working hours for one of our industrious part-time staff editors. 
  • If you and some other person you don’t even know each give us $50 a couple times a year, you enable us to commission more of our wonderful editorial illustrations.

If you’re just not in a place to give money, we still want you to be able to read our work, and you can help us by subscribing to our newsletter or just spreading the word to people you know.

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