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How The DONUT Decimated Newsletter Admin

Sponsy’s seamless migration, no questions asked reporting, and advanced integrations and automations help lean teams scale with ease.

Happy advertisers
Publications managed
Average time saved per ad operation
20 minutes

The DONUT has been delivering fast, impartial news that’s enjoyable to read since 2019. Established in response to the media industry’s often dense and negative approach to communicating the latest events around the world, the DONUT transforms what was once a time-consuming and anxiety-ridden chore into a jargon-free guilty pleasure.

The result? A free newsletter that reaches nearly 154,000+ subscribers every week, thanks to informative and interesting articles that ensure readers are always the most interesting people in the room - whether at work or play.

Building on this success, the team behind the DONUT launched a second positivity-focused newsletter and an SMS channel that keeps its Gen Z and younger Millennial audience informed with bite-size news via their phones.

Sprawling spreadsheets

While sponsorship and advertising play a crucial role in the brand’s current and future success, managing this aspect was increasingly challenging for Joe Sharkey, the DONUT’s Director of Subscriber Growth.

We started out with a big seven-column spreadsheet that just went on and on. That was our tool for managing everything. We updated it by creating a smart sheet template on Google Sheets.

While that improved our accountability, it got to the point where we were booking out up to four months in advance and any efficiencies gained by our clever spreadsheeting was negated.

Joe Sharkey
Joe Sharkey Director of Subscriber Growth

For Joe and his team, vigilance was key:

We were ping-ponging back and forth between emails, the massive spreadsheet, Slack messages, and DocuSign documents.

This ultimately illuminated the inefficiencies in the workflow, and increased anxiety at the increased possibility of human error.

Joe Sharkey
Joe Sharkey Director of Subscriber Growth

“Bogged down”

Tracking this information within the spreadsheet wasn’t easy, according to Joe’s colleague JP who looks after day-to-day administration of the “extremely cumbersome” spreadsheet.

On the old system there was far more chance of schedule mishaps, which are a nightmare as they create more work and cost us inventory aka revenue. JP needed to triple-check bookings to ensure nothing slipped through the cracks.

However, the spreadsheet’s massive size made the simple tasks, such as re-sorting or pulling data, take a lot of time - leaving the spreadsheet’s performance feeling “bogged down”. On top of this, the spreadsheet prevented JP from time-saving copying and pasting - increasing the risk of error.

Joe Sharkey
Joe Sharkey Director of Subscriber Growth

Above all else, JP found his lack of confidence in the spreadsheet’s capabilities “very stressful” explaining:

When things aren’t trustworthy, you find yourself triple or even quadruple checking which is just time-consuming...

J.P. Carroll
J.P. Carroll Director of Sponsor Experience

Why the DONUT partnered with Sponsy

That’s when Joe and JP discovered Sponsy, the platform streamlining ad operations for media companies.

Designed to enable lean teams to scale with efficiency, Sponsy allows publishers to manage sponsorships across a range of channels, such as newsletters, podcasts, social media and in the DONUT’s case SMS. Sponsy’s powerful capabilities track and manage team efforts from booking ad space right through to post-campaign reporting.

Competitor comparison: Passionfroot

To ensure the best fit for the DONUT, Joe and JP benchmarked Sponsy against vendors such as Passionfroot.

Passionfroot was interesting because they had networking for potential advertisers and placement management tools.

To me, however, their system wasn’t exactly what we needed to keep us as organized as we want to be.

Sponsy gives us the ability to improve our data integrity, ensure we’re able to deliver on promises to paying sponsors, as well as deliver the experience our audience expects.

Joe Sharkey
Joe Sharkey Director of Subscriber Growth

“Seamless” migration

Moving the DONUT’s operations to Sponsy was “super straightforward and simple”, according to Joe.

After mapping the data, he recalls only needing to make a “couple tweaks” before sending everything to the Sponsy team.

Making sure everything was dialed in was a piece of cake because we had the data. So we had a great starting point to begin with and it flowed seamlessly into what Sponsy had already built.

Joe Sharkey
Joe Sharkey Director of Subscriber Growth

As Sponsy has expanded, Joe’s found it “super easy” to continue, thanks to its ongoing customer focus. He explains:

You never really stop onboarding when you’re working with an organization that continues to build new things.

Joe Sharkey
Joe Sharkey Director of Subscriber Growth

Advanced automations

The team at the DONUT make good use of Sponsy’s automations. Designed to power up team workflows, a range of automations are available: from sending reminders and updating statuses to maximizing inventory and reporting performance.

Automate repetitive tasks such as reminders and reporting
Automate repetitive tasks such as reminders and reporting

And where automations don’t exist? As the DONUT discovered, Sponsy is always ready to help.

We’ve got automations set up and we’re running at a million miles an hour - especially JP. We’ve asked Sponsy for plenty of updates and they’ve delivered on a ton of them!

Joe Sharkey
Joe Sharkey Director of Subscriber Growth

“No questions” reporting

Searching across your ad inventory data has never been easier
Searching across your ad inventory data has never been easier

One of JP’s favorite Sponsy features is the reports page for its ability to provide him with a single source of truth, which, in turn, significantly speeds up his work.

Two of the most time-consuming parts of my job are confirming delivery dates and making sure sponsors receive what they’ve booked. With Sponsy, it’s just a matter of copying and pasting the necessary information. I can copy everything into an email and it’s all formatted perfectly which is super nice. And I can do the same on the backend with the data in the reports page, too.

J.P. Carroll
J.P. Carroll Director of Sponsor Experience

He finds it “fantastic” to work with on a day-to-day basis compared to how things used to be. He recalls:

Before Sponsy, we had a spreadsheet that might show four placements running tomorrow. I would have to look at the spreadsheet to make sure the dates correlated. With Sponsy, I can just look and know what runs tomorrow - with no questions. The design and UI make it super simple, and far less accident-prone than our old system.

J.P. Carroll
J.P. Carroll Director of Sponsor Experience

Time-saving integrations

Sponsy integrates easily with leading platforms to ensure media organizations don’t need to get “bogged down” in repetitive or mundane tasks, such as checking ad performance.

The DONUT utilizes the ESP integration with Campaign Monitor. This enables Joe, JP and the team to view ad performance in just one click with Sponsy.

Better still, Sponsy makes it possible for media organizations to automatically share this information with sponsors - reducing the need for the copying, pasting, and email sending previously required.


Since migrating to Sponsy, operations at the DONUT continue to scale upwards with developments including:

  • Increased booking confidence
  • Less risk of costly booking errors
  • Quicker administration (from 20 mins to mere seconds)
  • Planning and strategizing for two additional publications

“We were back in the stone age and now we’re in the 21st century - whizzing around with a high level of confidence,” enthuses Joe. “Sponsy ticks so many boxes for us - allowing us to think about so many other things with our business.”

Above all else, introducing Sponsy ensures Joe and his team at the DONUT, as well as its valued sponsors benefit from complete accountability.

“And that makes it easy for us to recommend it to media companies - especially those with multiple publications,” continues Joe. “Sponsy provides a clear snapshot of anything and everything going on within your publications - letting you make sure things are on track.”

As well as allowing Joe and his team to assess trends and decide whether they’re moving in the right direction, it also allows the DONUT team to study sponsorship performance - including potential gaps for new sponsors.

The director concludes:

Not only is Sponsy huge in terms of what it allows you to do within your own organization, it allows you to add people with expertise who are willing to explore different avenues based on your pain points.

Having a vendor who operates more like a department in your own organization is a huge benefit - especially when so many media organizations are young startups that require specialist help.

Expert support like this is important for success.

Joe Sharkey
Joe Sharkey Director of Subscriber Growth

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