Non-Profits Seek a Donor Collaborative

Posted on 11. Jun, 2009 by in Networks, News Ecosystem, Not-For-Profit, Revenue

Newspapers aren’t the only ones looking to pool resources. Some of the non-profit news organizations that have been springing up around the country hope to create a network aimed at gathering donations.

Last month, at a conference on non-profit media hosted by Duke University, Joel Kramer of and Jon Sawyer of the Pulitzer Center, presented an outline for a nationwide “donor collaborative” (download the pdf of their whitepaper). The network would allow these new shoestring news organizations, many of which are filling coverage holes left as metro newspapers cut back, to expand their fundraising efforts.

The collaborative would grant money based on the not-for-profits success at raising revenues through other areas (donations, subscriptions, etc.). Grants would be a percentage of the organization’s previous year’s revenues, with a matching system for donations from individuals.

The network could also be a boon to foundations and philanthropists who want to help new news organizations. With successful for-profit newspapers the norm for the last century or so, philanthropists have been focused on helping the poor, curing disease or funding local arts projects. They are used to (and more comfortable) funding discrete programs–unlike news operations which require continuous funding. They have little experience with which to judge the viability of a news startup. As Kramer and Sawyer write:

It will require substantial effort on their part to make sense of the landscape and decide which enterprises to support. Because of the low barrier to entry, there will be many new startups in this space, and many of them may not have the skill or capacity to diversify their revenue streams, so they will be dependent on their foundation supporters for their survival.

Check out the conference website for all of the non-profit model papers.

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