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Steve Klc

The Google and Amazon ads are gone

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Dear Fellow eGullet Society Members,

When you came online this morning you probably noticed that our Google and Amazon ads are gone. Some of you, especially those who have expressed disapproval of the ads, will no doubt rejoice. As the eGullet Society's chief fundraiser and head of forum development, I'd like to take a few moments to explain what has happened and what it means.

Advertising income has for the past year or so been the way we have kept the eG Forums afloat as a “for profit” corporation (in reality a “slightly money losing corporation”). But new times require new approaches, and our change to a not-for-profit form of organization has put several issues on the front burner.

Our outside counsel at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher (one of the world's top law firms, representing us pro bono in the matter of our not-for-profit reorganization) have told us that in order to protect our 501c3 application and not-for-profit status, we need to pull the ads. Don't read too much into this -- there will be more changes over the coming months and yes, some of those changes will likely involve sponsorship messages, like you see on PBS or hear on NPR.

The legal distinction between ads and a message from a sponsor is that a sponsor makes a donation and an advertiser doesn't. While it may seem an intellectually suspect distinction, it is apparently critical from a legal standpoint: If you get a donation from a corporate sponsor and in exchange for it you say "This program/forum/whatever has been made possible by a generous grant from Bosch" then that donation falls within what a 501©(3) organization is allowed to accept as a tax-exempt donation. Likewise, PBS is not considered to be running ads for Archer Daniels Midland; there really is a somewhat different tone and style to a sponsorship message on PBS versus an ad on commercial television -- most ads are about selling something, whereas sponsorship messages are more about image.

In terms of not-for-profit accounting, if you simply put up Google ads and take payments based on click-throughs, you have to account for that as "unrelated business income" even if you're a music charity and those ads are about music. Also, not all of our Google ads were about food, and more importantly we had little actual control over them, which could lead to trouble down the road. For that reason we also removed the general Amazon ad that sits at the bottom of the forums page, though we will be keeping contextual product links which generate a commission, for instance in posts that mention a cullinary book or other product.

Eventually we hope you will view everything from our removal of the Google ads to our presentation of very special events like the recently concluded Ferran Adria eGullet Q&A as small steps in the grander scheme of things eGullet Society. Regardless of ads or sponsorships, to get to the point where we are able to realize our ambitious and exciting goals, and in order to keep our basic services free, we also need each of you to support the eGullet Society so we can keep moving forward. Your financial contributions, in whatever amount, are essential to our momentum, our survival and our continued success. Everyone from our board of directors to our executive committee to our managers is dedicated to doing the most we can with the funds we raise. We will make every dollar count.

So accept these changes, and this pitch, with our warmest holiday wishes. Be proud of what you have helped the Society accomplish already and realize there will be many more changes over the coming months as we set out to make the world a better place for food, none of which will occur without your support.

With relish,

Steve Klc

Fundraising and forum development

eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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