After 20 Years, a News Site Gains Independent Nonprofit Status

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July 14, 2014; Philadelphia Public School Notebook

The Philadelphia Public School Notebook is twenty years old this year, and has just been awarded 501(c)3 status by the IRS.

The Notebook publishes in-depth education news online as well as in print. For nineteen years, it operated within a nonprofit incubator at Resources for Human Development. Last year, it decided to move to independence, and as a transitional step, it moved out of RHD and under the umbrella of the Investigative News Network, which helped the organization get its status faster than most news sites.

The Investigative News Network provides critical supports of many kinds, including fiscal sponsorship, to nonprofit journalism sites, a field that includes many newly formed organizations. All are working hard to create impactful, ethical and sustainable enterprises in an environment that is evolving rapidly. In this kind of turbulence, the value of an adaptive, responsive network can clearly be seen.

The blog post from the Notebook notes some of the benefits of its new 501(c)3 status:

The IRS ruling allows the Notebook to directly accept tax-deductible donations from individuals and foundations and elevates the organization to the same legal status as news organizations like National Public Radio, Consumer Reports, and ProPublica. The Notebook is funded by a mix of memberships and other contributions from individuals and organizations, foundation grants, and advertising revenues. All those revenues can now flow directly to the Notebook rather than through another nonprofit, tax-exempt fiscal agent.

The new status will allow the Notebook to solicit funds from a number of foundations and organizations that do not make pass-through donations through a tax-exempt fiscal sponsor.

As a disclosure, NPQ is also a member of INN.—Ruth McCambridge