Funding by private foundations is filling gaps in mainstream news coverage, especially in areas like investigative, international and local journalism. However, researchers have found that this funding is inadvertently shaping the boundaries of international nonprofit journalism.
Robyn Vinter, founder of a UK-based investigative news website for working-class millennials and people outside the “London bubble,” says she made a conscious choice not to try and make a “big profit” from it. “We’re not trying to be millionaires,” says Vinter.“We’re trying to do investigative journalism, and you can’t really do both, I don’t think.”
With the global spread of nonprofit media, journalists are looking for new ways to raise funds and structure the business side of their news organizations. Fundraising expert Bridget Gallagher, who helped launch the GIJN secretariat and has raised millions of dollars for nonprofits, provides some useful fundraising tips.
Growing your major gifts program — or getting one started in the first place — can feel like an overwhelming responsibility. The philanthropic landscape is extremely competitive, and the prospect of identifying and soliciting prospective donors can seem cumbersome and intimidating. While the non-profit journalism landscape has flourished, opening up new revenue streams and business models to support mission-driven news, many organizations continue to rely on major gifts from foundations, high net-worth individuals, governments and multilateral organizations for the large investments they need to start up, survive and thrive. The competition for major gifts is intense. The journalism sector has grown robustly in the last several years, which means you are competing with an increasing number of organizations.
For non-profit media routinely engaged in fundraising, developing a stream of individual gift-giving is important. Here’s good advice on how to build and market a “gift ladder” — a series of donation levels that goes from quite to modest to major grants.
Your nonprofit board of directors can be a dynamic catalyst to bring in new major donations. People who are passionate about what your institution does and have a lifetime of connections can make the difference between “basic survival” fundraising or breaking out into the green fields of major gifts fundraising. Here are three ways to help your board shed their fears of fundraising and find their unique role in this aspect.
The proliferation of nonprofit newsrooms is one of the more promising developments in an industry wracked by a crumbling financial base and sweeping technological change. Since 2000, dozens of nonprofit media groups have sprouted, not only across America but worldwide. Many are deeply committed to investigative and accountability journalism, working to fill a void left by a mainstream media that either can’t or won’t do its job as social watchdogs. In April, the Knight Foundation published the third installment in a series of reports since 2011 tracking the progress of nonprofit news sites as they strive for a sustainable financial base. There are lessons here for media nonprofits worldwide.
One of the most common things you hear people say when you tell them what you do for a living is “Oh, I hate fundraising! I could NEVER do that for living!” Nice. Yes, there are all kinds of fun responses we can think of. But what it tells us over and over again is that fundraising is widely perceived as something dirty, ethically challenged, or at least uncomfortable. People think that talking to someone about their own money is akin to talking to them about sex, politics, or religion. It’s not.
At the Google Investigathon on Nov.12, GIJN premiered its latest project, Investigative Impact: How Investigative Journalism Fights Corruption, Promotes Accountability, and Fosters Transparency around the World. GIJN director David Kaplan and board chair Brant Houston showcased the project before nearly 100 people at the New York event, demonstrating through video, graphics, data, and a new website the extraordinary global impact of investigative reporting. The project includes case studies of high-impact reports, video interviews with journalists in 20 countries, infographics, and a resource library.
When it comes to small and medium organizations I have seen a consistent chronic under investment in fundraising and a consistent lack of understanding of the work. It’s not just about small and medium nonprofits learning key methods and techniques of larger institutions. It’s about changing the culture around fundraising, especially individual major giving. Small and medium nonprofits all rush the same foundation doors year after year. Foundation fundraising is easier to understand and doesn’t involve talking to individuals about their own money. Individual major gifts work is risky, harder to understand and involves talking to individuals about their money. So year after year these same nonprofits stay small.