Hi there,

It’s been a long time since I last wrote you. For most of 2022, the whole team at Fumaça has been focused on finishing our most recent series, wading through an almost-endless edition process, making sure every narrative detail is a hook, every phrase is thoroughly fact checked, every sound design element is delicately mixed into the story. Desassossego, a 13-episodeaudio-series on mental healthcare, has been in the making for over two years. It’s finally out.

We’ve been telling the same story to everyone who asks about our sustainability strategy for years: we grow our membership program when we’re publishing a series; we retain those people while we’re working on the next one. Rinse and repeat. That’s our path towards having the first professional newsroom in Portugal that’s funded solely by its audience. We believe this. But even though we repeat that mantra time and time again, I’ll admit we all get anxious just before publishing a new series. We’ve all got the same question: will it work again?

Well, for Desassossego, at least, the answer seems to be yes. In the three weeks since the launch of episode 1, on the 24th of November, our Monthly Recurring Donations (MRD) increased around 11%. More than 100 people joined our Community in just over 20 days. If we keep growing at this rate, we’ll reach more than €10k per month in recurring donations by the time we wrap up the series, in February. That means that, for the first time in Fumaça’s history, more than 50% of our budget will be paid for by our audience. 

That’s good news, right? Well, yes. But also, not really. 

While we’re experiencing exceptional growth, we’re also growing exceptionally anxious. We’re very close to being in the best financial position we've ever been in. But also in our worst. If we don’t find a new grant that allows us to keep working on what we do best, and we’ve proven is taking us closer to sustainability — investigative journalism audio-series —, we’ll have to drastically reduce our team by June 2023, as our runway comes to an end. Current projections would force us to layoff at least half of our newsroom.

In my last newsletter, I talked about how hard is it to fundraise for nonprofit journalism in Portugal (and so many other countries in southern Europe): not only do we have zero grants nor state-promoted financial incentives for journalism, we’re also witnessing international foundations that support journalism in this region drastically disinvest. We’re in what I called “the fundraising limbo”. The most frustrating part is that we know what we’re doing, we know what’s working. We just need time to get there. And here, time is money.

If you do know anyone I should be in touch with to talk about grants and structural donations, reach me at or +351 919661041 (WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram).

See you soon,
Ricardo Esteves Ribeiro,

Co-founder and journalist,

Fumaça is an investigative journalism podcast that focuses on inequalities and injustices. Our mission is to ask why certain things have happened instead of what and to explain the complexities of the world around us to our audience. We believe journalists should have time to think, question, investigate, fact-check, and hold those in power accountable. Therefore, we believe that a piece of journalism should only be published when it's truly finished, not when the deadline hits. 

Since the beginning of Fumaça in 2016, we have received multiple awards for our work, including a Gazeta Award, the most prestigious in Portugal.

We are on the path to become the first audience-funded journalism project in Portugal. We accept no advertising, corporate-sponsored content, or private investors. Additionally, there are no paywalls: all of Fumaça’s journalism is freely accessible. Still, more than 1500 people make monthly recurring donations to Fumaça, covering more than a third of our operational expenses. Our remaining budget comes from journalism grants given by organizations such as Open Society Foundation, Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung, and Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.

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