January 25, 2013

Foundation Resources for Nonprofit News Organizations

Foundation funding provides vital support to nonprofit news publishers. This week, INN held the first conference call for members to discuss best practices and strategies for seeking foundation funding. Members who would like to join the next funding discussion should email Shelby Ilan.

The calls are led by INN’s development consultant Irma Simpson, a former manager of the Gannett Foundation with years of expertise from the foundation’s perspective. A large majority of private foundations and community foundations do not list journalism or media as a program area, according to Simpson. She said nonprofit publishers should be proactive in making the case for journalism to non-media funders. Funders’ missions often align with nonprofit newsrooms on issues including education, environment, consumer protection and more.

Diminished coverage by mainstream media — on local issues and of long-form investigative reporting — demonstrates a gap in coverage. Nonprofit news organizations should highlight their ability to fill that gap and serve their community. “Journalism and Media Grantmaking: Five Things You Need To Know,” by Eric Newton and Michelle McClellan, has some food for thought on approaching non-media funders. Although the publication targets the funding community, it’s a great resource for media organizations for making the case for why they should be funded. The booklet gives grantseekers perspective on how to present their case for support. One tidbit: In 2008, 41 percent of community and private foundations said local news was drying up, according to a Knight Foundation survey. By 2010, that had increased to 75 percent.

The Knight Foundation has a number of valuable publications on their website, and Simpson said publishers should take advantage of them. She also said organizations with a community foundation in their city should reach out directly, if they haven’t already.

Simpson put together this list of resources for nonprofits:

Primo site for resources, foundation search database, philanthropy news, RFPs (database requires subscription, can be done month-to-month.)

This is the Foundation Center’s learning community for nonprofits.

List of all nonprofits, including foundations, with 990s. More resources are available with a premium membership.

The Grantsmanship Center has a yearly subscription option, or proposal writing guides are available for a small fee. There are also free state-by-state lists of foundations.

Tools, blogs, ideas, and an interactive community.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals has resources, philanthropy news.

Network for Good’s resource center has hundreds of topics on fundraising, website dveelopment, social marketing, event planning, and free webinars.

Free guides for grant writing, including sample grants and templates.

A must for nonprofit and independent newsrooms. Aggregates and curates knowledge, tactics, questions, resources, reviews, ideas, cautions, use case and community.

Excellent publications on resources for nonprofit journalism.