What you need to know about the $1 million INNovation Fund

Nonprofit news publishers are true believers, committed to informing the public and strengthening democracy. But they are also business owners who have to meet the same economic reality facing for-profit media and technology organizations. At Knight Foundation and the Investigative News Network, we believe that innovation is key to sustainability in the nonprofit news and public media space. So together, we have launched the Knight-funded INNovation Fund to help online news providers diversify their revenues, invest in their businesses and experiment with technology innovations to help increase their prospects for long-term viability. We hope that this fund will encourage experimentation, collaboration, lesson sharing and above all increase the ability for these organizations to have long-term, positive impacts on the communities that they serve. Continue Reading

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Fiscally-Sponsored Projects Must File Their Own 990s

All nonprofit organizations are required to file an annual tax return with the IRS: Form 990, Form 990-EZ or Form 990-N. This annual filing obligation includes organizations that have not yet received a determination letter from the IRS that they are tax-exempt, and it also includes organizations that are fiscally sponsored by INN or other fiscal sponsor. Continue Reading

The Elevator Pitch For Mission-Driven News Nonprofits

You’ve heard this premise before: You’re standing in front of an elevator and, as the doors open, in front of you is the key individual that you’ve tried for months to get on the phone. Once you’re in the elevator you realize you have only 30 to 60 seconds to make the right impression and get him or her to take note. While this scenario may not play itself out quite as dramatically in the real world, as nonprofit news executives we often find ourselves in situations where we have to articulate what we do, why we do it, and why anyone else should care – and we have to do it quickly. There are many articles available to business executives, entrepreneurs and sales professionals with tips on how to deliver the perfect elevator pitch (read here, here and here for a few examples). However, a nonprofit leader has the added complexity of having to articulate the unique qualities and value of his or her mission-driven organization to a wider range of constituents including foundations, corporate underwriters, advertisers and, of course, members of the audience that you serve. Continue Reading

Terms & Conditions: Staying on Top of Your Legal Obligations

We’ve all signed up for some new technology – something that is going to make things easier, faster, better, less expensive – and then when the message pops up, saying “I have read and accept the terms and conditions,” we click to accept without a second thought. No lawyers are involved, there are no hours spent pouring over dense legalese. However, as executives and publishers we have an obligation, not only to read the legalese and the fine print, but to stay atop of it all. Every legally binding contract involves rights and obligations that must be met in order to avoid a significant risk to your organization, and even to you individually. I’m not an attorney, and so this is not legal guidance, but I have included here a few pointers for keeping track of contracts. Continue Reading