October 8, 2017; VT Digger
As most nonprofits know, a challenge match to individual donors can be the gift that keeps on giving. It can help attract new donors and make existing donors even more generous. For organizations that are serious about building a donor base, the money is well targeted.
It is, therefore, great to hear that through December 31st, donors can give through the News Match platform to more than 100 nonprofit news organizations and have their donations matched (up to $1000). The foundations supporting this effort are the Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The goal this year is $3 million, with more than 100 organizations nationwide eligible to receive up to $28,000 each.
Participating news organizations include large, well-known names like Mother Jones and The Nation, which were nonprofit media before nonprofit media was cool, along with regional and topic-based publications like Honolulu Civil Beat, the California Health Report, and the Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance.
News Match was started last year by the Knight Foundation and raised more than $1.2 million. As Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation Vice President for Journalism, writes in a press release:
At a time when trust in media is at an all-time low, nonprofit journalism organizations are directly connecting with people to understand their needs and concerns, while providing vital news and information to communities across the nation. This initiative will help news organizations that are imperative to our democracy build resources and widen their supporter base, just when they need it most.
According to the release, news organizations across the US over the last two decades have lost more than 24,000 jobs. Nonprofit news organizations, which rely at least in part on donations to keep the lights on, are trying to fill the gap.
“People are increasingly looking to nonprofit news to fill their information needs,” said Sue Cross, Executive Director and CEO of the Institute for Nonprofit News, which, along with the funding foundations and News Revenue Hub, is collaborating on the project. “We need to continue that momentum and build an infrastructure that supports organizations that deliver fact-based, nonpartisan, accountable journalism.”
The struggles and triumphs of nonprofit news organizations have been a recurrent theme at Nonprofit Quarterly, with most related stories focusing on efforts to solve two basic problems: lack of resources, lack of relevance, or, often, both.
Kathy Im, Director of Journalism and Media at the MacArthur Foundation, says in the press release, “The accountability and investigative function of journalism is essential for our democracy and it has been under-resourced for many years. News Match endeavors to strengthen a free and independent press and help restore Americans’ faith in the news media.”
News Match is hoping that other foundations will join the effort and increase the power of the collaboration. The Miami Foundation is serving as the fiscal sponsor of the fund.
“We want 2017 to be a record-setting year for donations to news to ensure that innovative, nonprofit news rooms have the resources they need to deliver high-quality reporting to the communities they serve,” says Josh Stearns, Associate Director for the Public Square program at the Democracy Fund. “News Match comes at a time when journalists are facing a perfect storm of economic challenges and political attacks. A robust, independent press is essential to fostering an informed and engaged public and is vital for a healthy democracy.”—Nancy Young