Can you please tell me where the #&** we’re headed now?

The drive from Prescott, Ariz., to Rapid City, S.D., is long and lonely, and from the back seat of my Honda CRV, a head occasionally pops up. “Tell me where we are, Dad.”

“Son,” I say, turning my attention from the ambient music playlist that maintains the fragile serenity during our two-day drive, “Is that a trick question?”

The answer is both easy and difficult.

There’s our literal location, which is simple: We’re just outside Flagstaff, Ariz., Grand Junction, Colo., Cheyenne, Wyo. But what about the metaphorical road I’m thinking about as the mile markers whiz by?

I have to be honest. The path ahead is uncertain. I’m not sure how I’m going to get there. I only know one thing — I can’t make it without you.

Tell me where the #&** we’re headed now?

If you’re a regular reader of my personal site, you know that we’re on a challenging journey together. For the last 20 years, I’ve self-funded and operated a consumer advocacy site. Early this year, my volunteers and I decided to chart a new course to become a nonprofit organization.

It’s an important but necessary change. The site has always operated as a nonprofit, but actually becoming one means we’ll have access to the resources that will allow us to build a sustainable organization and help even more people. It also means your donations are tax-deductible.

So that’s our destination. But while the objective is clear, the path is not. We removed all the ads from our site earlier this month. In the next few weeks, I have to figure out how to make up for the lost revenue, which was paying our bills. Our spring fundraiser, which starts at the end of May, will be a make-or-break event.

How are we going to get there?

I don’t know how we’ll do this. The bills are piling up, my bank account is being drained, and there’s paperwork — lots of paperwork. (Thanks, IRS!) But I know this is the right thing to do. I’ve been talking with friends and supporters like you, and you tell me that this is the path we’re meant to take.

Our 501(c)(3) approval is just a few weeks away. After that, we have to finish a successful fundraiser and then get to work building a world-class membership organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t.

I’m going to need guidance from others who have done this. If you have any experience with nonprofits, fundraising, or if you’ve been a startup CEO … I’d love to hear from you now.

You can advocate for the advocate

Your support isn’t just welcome — it’s vital. Every story you click, every “like” and comment, every email to an editor you write, helps keep the advocacy going. If you’re signed up for my daily email newsletter, you’re already getting exclusive information about how to help the cause every day.

But the rubber hits the road next month when we try to raise funds for the advocacy site. If we can’t clear that hurdle, it’s going to be difficult to pay the bills. We may have to revisit our display ads or consider firewalling some of our content. I don’t want to do that.

Please consider becoming a supporter during our spring fundraiser. I’ll have details soon, or you can get a head start by making a donation online now.

This week’s stories

Here are this week’s stories. Please like, share and comment if you have a minute:

Thank you for your support! See you next week.

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Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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