How The Active Age almost got deactivated

By Diana Breit Wolfe | June 1, 2022

Diana Wolfe

Diana Breit Wolfe

It’s hard to believe now, but this newspaper — in print since 1979 — nearly went out of business five years ago. 

The years of 2013 through 2015 were troubling ones for The Active Age. During that three-year period, our losses totaled $113,000. Even though advertising income had increased, expenses went up even more. To make matters worse, donations were down. 

By 2016, it was obvious that the future of our newspaper was in jeopardy.Our board president at the time, Elma Broadfoot, had a great idea to create a “Silver Campaign” to generate more donations. She wrote about it in a front-page article in March 2016 and was so bold as to set a goal of raising $75,000 for the year.

As board treasurer, my eyes got big, and I gulped hard. We accountants tend to be conservative in estimating income, especially since the previous year our donations were $60,000. Could that goal possibly be met? But you, our readers, responded in an astonishing way: Total donations for 2016 were $76,800! My eyes got big again, and I was elated thinking about how our readers helped us.

However, in 2017, not all were convinced that this could continue. Serious discussions took place about selling the newspaper, closing the office and dispersing our assets according to legal requirements for nonprofit organizations. By a narrow vote, the board dismissed that idea, showing confidence in our three-person staff’s ability to cut costs and increase advertising income. The newspaper — drum roll, please — was saved! Over the next four years, advertising revenue and donations increased.

But now we are facing a new financial challenge. Donations have fallen dramatically in 2022. Through April of last year, donations totaled over $32,000; through the same period this year, we received less than $23,000, a 28 percent decrease. Our goal for donations in 2022 is $87,000, but for the first four months of 2022 we are averaging $5,700 a month. If this trend continues throughout the year, we’ll only reach $68,400.

Our largest expense is the printing and distribution of 60,000 papers each month. That cost us $82,000 through the first four months of 2021. The cost through the same period this year was over $105,000, a 28 percent increase.

Without sufficient revenue, we can’t produce a free newspaper that you tell us you enjoy for the news articles, feature stories, quizzes, recipes and more. I know you can respond as well as you did back in 2016. We need your help to get us over this hump. Together, we’ll make it work! Call us at 316-942-5385 to donate with a debit or credit card, use our website or the reliable old U.S. Postal Service. Whatever way you choose, thank you in advance for your donation. 

Diana Breit Wolfe is treasurer of The Active Age’s board of directors. She can be reached at