Just because someone supports you doesn't mean you owe them any special loyalty as a journalist. Since many people are likely to give you small amounts of support, you're unlikely to be dependent on a single person. There's no financial model that provides complete independence. If you need to keep some distance to stay independent, it can help to make your communication process transparent to your community. But it can also be helpful and motivating to know exactly who your audience is. And to get their input and participation such as help with conducting research, for example.