Only you can prevent a full Elliott Advocacy meltdown!

It's time for the Elliott Advocacy fall fundraiser

If you’re a reader of my personal website, you probably already know about the full meltdown that happened after we posted a blockbuster story by Michelle Couch-Friedman about buying jewelry on a cruise. Suddenly a surge of traffic flooded the Elliott Advocacy site and within just a few minutes, our server choked up. Instead of the article, that annoyingly familiar “error establishing a database connection” message greeted you.

But you might not know that it happened again last night. The site coughed and sputtered and then died. At about 11 p.m., my developer rebooted the server again and revived it.

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Why am I telling you about this? And what does any of this have to do with the box of Fireside Vests that I want to give away this week? Let me explain.

Our nonprofit consumer advocacy site’s server has locked up several times since this summer, and here’s why: After becoming a 501(c)(3), we hired a professional to design a more efficient site. That allowed us to move to a smaller server, which worked fine — until it didn’t.

A server is a computer that provides functionality for other programs. In our case, our server hosts the website you’re reading. A new server will cost about $10,000 a year. Unless we get one quickly, we’ll have more meltdowns and help fewer consumers.

You know what that means? Time for a fundraiser! And this is a big one. All told, we have to raise $40,000 in the next six weeks to keep this site running. Our costs include the new server, our IT expenses, paying our developer for our new website (I self-financed the latest redesign), and new software.

A little help from our friends at SCOTTeVEST

I’m honored to kick off our fall fundraiser with the help of our friends at SCOTTeVEST. I have a box of Fireside Vests from SCOTTeVEST that I’m ready to give away to random new underwriters this week.

You have to watch this video until the 17-second marker. Is that an iPad he’s slipping into his vest? Why yes, I believe it is. Your Fireside Vest will give you the functionality you expect out of your SCOTTeVEST products plus an extra layer of warmth when the weather turns cold. Oh, and you can store all of your devices in them.

What’s not to love about that?

SCOTTeVEST is one of a select group of companies that supports this site, so if you’re thinking of buying new apparel, I hope you’ll check out SCOTTeVEST.

Remember, if you become a supporter now, you qualify for the Fireside Vest vest giveaway. I know you’re going to love this vest! And you’ll help prevent another meltdown on the site.

What’s at stake in this Elliott Advocacy fundraiser?

This is an important fundraiser for all of us. We’re just starting to find our legs as a nonprofit organization and have encountered our first big hurdle. Not surprisingly, it’s a technology problem. Our server is too small. In fact, we’re pretty sure that the size of our server has kept us from reaching a wider audience. Whenever one of our posts goes viral, the site simply melts down.

Having an “error establishing a database connection” message display when we have a popular post isn’t just unprofessional — it’s embarrassing. Behind the scenes, there’s always a mad scramble to restart the server and figure out what went wrong. And we never know for sure what caused the problem (is it another denial of service attack, or malware, or an application that ran out of disk space?). But we do know that all signs point to the size of our server as the main culprit.

Here’s the thing: I can’t prevent another meltdown. My developers can’t, either. Only you can do it, by participating in the fall fundraiser. It’s just that simple. Without your help, we’ll have more “error establishing a database connection” messages in our future.

Please consider helping Elliott Advocacy now. You’re supporting a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization dedicated to helping you. Seriously, that’s all we do.

I’m deeply grateful to all those who have already offered to help. And I’m thankful to our friends at SCOTTeVEST for helping us with the critical first week of fundraising. Together, I know we can make this happen!