Giving Compass' Take:

• Nonprofit news outlets are moving away from relying on foundations for financial support and turning toward individual donations, which have been steadily increasing. 

• Are there opportunities for you to support nonprofit news outlets? Why is supporting nonprofit news more important than ever?

• Learn more about who is funding journalism and how you can help. 

Nonprofit news does not mean news without a business model. As more and more 501(c)(3) status–granted outlets emerge in the last decade of journalism, more and more are building out ways to make money beyond foundation grants — though with less impact from membership than their commercial counterparts.

Throughout 2018, nonprofit news outlets brought in $450 million in annual revenue — $100 million more than the previous year — and employ 3,000 people (two-thirds of them journalists). Those numbers come from the Institute for Nonprofit News’ annual INN Index surveying its 230+ members on the state of their journalism finances and operations. With a 56 percent response rate, INN says the index is representative of its members (other than public broadcasters).

The majority of nonprofit news outlets launched in the past ten years, post-recession, as commercial advertising bottomed out and Facebook/Google/et. al’s digital dominance grew. (INN itself is also celebrating its tenth anniversary.) The nonprofit approach develops a closer relationship with foundations, folks with money, and readers/people who may be inclined to give a range of small-dollar donations to their work, rather than corporate owners, advertisers, and one-size-fits-all subscribers.

Individuals and families now donate nearly 40% of all the revenue going to news nonprofits. For the first time in studies of the field, foundation funding of nonprofit newsrooms fell below 50% in 2018….By comparison, the Pew Research Center found that in 2011, foundations contributed nearly two-thirds of revenue while donors accounted for about a fourth across the nonprofit news field.

But overall, the increase in individual-giving donor revenue was driven by donors of $5,000 or more, who accounted for more than two-thirds of all donor revenue.

Read the full article about nonprofit journalism by Christine Schmidt at NiemanLab.