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2017 Was a Record Breaking Year for Giving to Nonprofit News, Here is Why

By Josh Stearns / 2018 June 27th

As trusted information providers, local and nonprofit journalism organizations play an essential role in providing news that communities rely on to stay informed, make decisions and participate in civic life. In the wake of the digital disruption of news and declining trust in the media, there is an urgent need to redouble funding for local and state coverage to ensure the nonprofit journalism sector can fulfill its democratic mission.

That is why the Democracy Fund, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Knight Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation came together in 2017 to launch NewsMatch, a national matching-gift campaign to grow fundraising capacity in nonprofit newsrooms and promote giving to journalism among U.S. donors.

A new study released this month by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University revealed that from 2010 to 2015 nearly $1.8 billion in grants were given in support of journalism. However, only a small fraction, about 4.5%, went toward nonprofit local and state reporting. The report also found significant and troubling geographical gaps, with the majority of philanthropic dollars ending up in a few coastal cities.

NewsMatch was designed from the ground up to respond to the gaps that the Harvard research now highlights so clearly. It supported newsrooms in almost every state, brought new foundations and donors in, and expanded the capacity of journalism nonprofits to develop support from their community.

Today we are releasing the results of an external evaluation of NewsMatch as well as our reflections on what we learned over the past year.

In 2017 NewsMatch provided 109 newsrooms with more than 500 hours of fundraising training, a professional campaign toolkit, national marketing around the importance of contributing to nonprofit news, targeted advertising using $100,000 in ad credits donated by Facebook, and a 1:1 match of individual donations, up to $28,000 per news organization. Nearly all 109 organizations who participated in NewsMatch raised more money, from more donors than ever before. In total NewsMatch helped raise nearly $5 million for local and investigative journalism and inspired 43,000 new donors to give to nonprofit news. Those are just the topline results. The report dives deep into how NewsMatch was structured, what worked and what didn’t.

We are currently raising dollars for NewsMatch 2018 in hopes of making it even bigger than last year. Several updates to the 2018 program reflect the evaluation’s suggestions:
As in 2017, NewsMatch is open to members of the Institute for Nonprofit News. The deadline to apply is Aug. 1, 2018.

  • We will support nonprofit news organization’s membership models by matching the full-year value of new recurring donations during NewsMatch.
  • We will offer extra bonuses to small and medium organizations that show they have measurably improved their fundraising capacity over 2017.
  • We recognize that individual donors support nonprofit news in many ways and will match gifts made by individuals through their businesses and family foundations.

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