And now a word for our sponsors

And the word is – none.

The PIElink has no sponsors; no grant, no income.
No ties, no corporate loyalties or party line; complete freedom to 'tell it as we see it'.

And therefore, no future.  Not at least, if it carries on like this.

So, here’s the plan.

Access to the PIElink will remain free for all registered members, for at least another year or two. But the work of producing new material will simply cease, if there is no-one doing that work; and with the retirement – long threatened* - of the editor, Robin, who will be 70 next year, there will be no-one to replace him.

Not at least, without either someone else – or some organisation -  coming forward to take it on; and for that there needs to be EITHER someone willing and able to do it for free, OR some form of income, to pay someone – and/or some organisation - to produce it.   

But there is, in fact, a business model and a business plan that allows for the PIElink to continue to be free to all frontline staff (and users) and to employ a small staff team; even, conceivably, to make a profit, that could then be ploughed back into the sector.  

NB: In all these versions, a great deal of content on the site is still accessible to all comers - to all non-registered readers, as currently. But access to the Library, and participating access to webinars etc, may not always be.

 

Plan A

In this version, the PIElink (probably re-branded?) is a new kind of academic publishing for professional training, and pays for itself through subscriptions from universities, paying for the staff and students to have access to cutting edge information on a high priority concerns for many professional disciplines - just as they pay, currently, for specialist journals in their libraries. For all frontline staff, participation and access to all areas remains free.

The university-based training-to-qualification market is un-tapped; and it is huge - especially when you realise that these issues are arising in every country in the developed and developing world; and there are universities teaching and training in English world-wide, and not just in the English-speaking world, vast though that may be.

On this basis - and on this scale - Plan A envisages the PIElink eventually making sufficient income from this source to be able to plough resources back into the sector (eg: in the form of grants for early stages research; and an awards ceremony, to promote creativity). 

That’s a pretty ambitious scheme; and it almost certainly can’t work without a partner organisation with the right skillset already, to work with over a period, and to hand on all the current content, all Robin’s extensive contacts and knowledge. We are now exploring such possibilities.

Such a project would benefit from some some kind of editorial board, perhaps, to maintain the momentum with new, cutting edge analysis, inspirational accounts and teaching material. To encourage this, we are now proposing to gift ( ie: to give, outright) half of the shares in a newly-formed company - the PIEs Promotion Company Ltd, which now owns and runs the PIElink - to a range of organisations in the homelessness and exclusion health sectors, all not-for-profit social enterprises.

Thus they become beneficiaries, if the project makes income; but also, as shareholders, they can have a say in how any profit is distributed, or ploughed back. They thus have a double vested interest in the success of the project, and in ensuring good quality, relevant content.

The remaining shares could be retained, to ensure the editorial mission of the project; or some could be offered as an equity stake for a commercial company in a position to invest, such as an existing publisher, as a business partner.

 

Plan B

If Plan A seems too ambitious - and it is certainly  very ambitious - than a far more modest version can be made to work. (It can also be a preliminary stage, in building up towards Plan A.)

In Plan B, someone - a person or an agency, or a combination, a consortium, with a lead agency -  agrees to take over the production of the PIElink, in its current form and scope.  Plan B is a much more modest version, aiming only to maintain and consolidate the current site's remit - ignoring (for now) the potential market in universities training.

There are various options for how this might work, and be funded, such as

  • sponsorship, or grants (Plan Bi).
  • large scale organisations could fund subscriptions for their own staff (Plan Bii)
  • access to the site might be 'bundled in' and come free with some other feature, such as being a member of another organisation (Plan Biii),
  • access to the site could provide to the new assessment framework's Abacus on-line software - which is currently free, but need not be (Plan Biv)
  • funding via advertising (Plan Bv)
  • crowd-source funding ( Pan Bvi)

In Plan B, as in Plan A, an editorial board would still be useful, to feed in news and views, and other practice content; and major subscribers could also offer feedback as to what they think their staff need, to ensure relevance; but they might be less motivated, as customers, to also provide content.

Plan C

Otherwise, without any source of income, or a sufficient investment of funds to keep it going, with no funds to pay the basic costs of running a website (approx £300 pa), after perhaps a year or two, the PIElink website will simply close down.

But for those interested to hear how the first two options could work in more detail, see the panels (as always) on the right.....

  • NB: Robin claims he is "not retiring, as such. Like the Cheshire cat, the grin will remain....."