LAist: Increasing Revenue for a Trusted L.A. News Source

When KPCC acquired LAist in 2018, it also brought with it a member-supported, non-profit model that was new for LAist. That meant that the majority of revenue for LAist would most likely come from memberships and donations. However, unlike KPCC, LAist didn’t have an avenue to do things like “on air pledge drives”.

That’s where we come in! We built a customizable, dynamic LAist “Digital Pledge Drive” that included components such as a kickstarter-like thermometer on the homepage, and a dismissible anchored footer. These components had a tremendous impact in driving new memberships and donations, with the latest campaign yielding over $100k in donations and over 1,900 new members in a short period of time (as of May 13, 2020).

Project Details

  • Year: 2019-2020
  • Client: LAist
  • Our Work: CMS Development, Frontend Web Development
  • Technologies: PHP, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Movable Type, Movable Type REST API
  • Link:


LAist didn’t have any mechanisms to ask their readers for support. In order to maintain the high quality reporting that LAist produces, member support is crucial. LAist needed to clearly message that member support was desperately needed, and they needed a way to do that in a flexible, agile way.

Creative Challenge

Static Publishing

When SCPR acquired LAist in 2018, they also inherited their aging CMS, Movable Type. Movable Type emphasizes static publishing which means that every story is statically generated and stored as a file on the server. This actually is pretty performant in that statically generated files typically serve much faster than dynamically served files.

However, whenever a change to a template is made, every file that shares that template must be republished. This is problematic, typically for things like donation elements, because their copy will frequently change. The republish time will continue to grow as more content is made which introduces a unique challenge when iterating on the designs of these pages.

The Solution

We built three major components: a digital thermometer, a dismissible anchored footer, and a banner placed prominently at the top of stories.

We created custom content types in Movable Type designed to specifically change most things about the elements (headlines, bodies, links, scheduled publish times).

We then used Google Tag Manager in combination with Movable Type’s Data API to dynamically insert the elements onto the pages. With this method, we could avoid the long re-publish times and also allow LAist’s membership team to quickly change copy and experiment with their messaging.

The Results

LAist has had three digital drives. Here are the results:

2019 Spring Drive

  • Member’s Goal: 500 members
  • Final count: 569
  • Dollars Raised: $39,779

2019 December Drive

  • Members Goal: 750
  • Final Count: 925
  • Dollars Raised: $50,618

2020 Spring Drive (ongoing)

  • Members Goal: 2000
  • Current Count: 1,940
  • Current Dollars Raised: $109,659

LAist surpassed its goal with every subsequent pledge drive. LAist’s membership team’s messaging was extremely effective, and we helped by building tools to make it easier for them to experiment. The LAist digital drive elements remain a staple of to this day.

Let's talk about your project!

Schedule a consultation