The Union’s “new” events: competing or collaborating with nonprofits and service clubs?

To cut costs, The Union has outsourced its printing to the Sacramento Bee. To raise revenue, the newspaper also has announced it is seeking new revenue streams. It plans to hold more for-profit events (“up to five new events possible for this year”).

While good for The Union, the events strategy has raised some concerns in an event-centric area. Nonprofits and service clubs depend on them for their own fundraising activities. “Just hope the events planned are more inline with what the Sacramento Business Journal does rather than competing with the nonprofit events in town .. We’ll see,” one nonprofit leader wrote on this blog.

This spring the newspaper has chosen an event that is in the wheelhouse of local nonprofits and their own efforts to raise money — community bike rides.

On Saturday, May 16, it has received permission from the Grass Valley Police Department for a “downtown ride event.” “Ride a 1/2 mile loop up Main Street, to Church Street, down Neal Street to Mill Street and enter into a community festival.” The event is from 8:30-11:30 a.m.

The Union is charging a $15 registration fee.

This comes during May when nonprofits and Rotary have their own cycling events. Street closures or activities that curtail parking also are a sensitive topic in Grass Valley with some merchants.

The Rotary Club of Grass Valley has its second annual “Gold Country Cycling Challenge.” And Big Brothers, Big Sisters has its own “Mountain Bike Endurance Ride.” These are “funraisers.”

At least The Union’s event is on a different day. The newspaper also has pledged $1 of each registration fee to NEO and offered a “free” booth to NEO, Food Bank, Grass Valley Downtown Association, the Grass Valley Police and Fire departments. May is national bike month.

But unlike Rotary and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nevada County and North Lake Tahoe, The Union is a private, for-profit enterprise.

I wonder how The Union would feel if some of our nonprofits jumped into the newspaper business. It should be careful not to step on toes as this event strategy moves forward.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

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