Demystifying the Technology Selection Process

Too often, I hear from editorial staff at news organizations about how horrible their publishing system is: how slow it is, how it simply “can’t do what I need it to.” The only conclusion is to scream from the rooftops and jump at the first system that they hear is “great” from who knows where. But not so fast. Before you make that significant finance, resource and time-consuming leap, there are a few steps that can help your decision-making process. These tips are also relevant to web hosting and application development, but for today I’ll focus on website development. Continue Reading

Follow the Money: The Essentials of Income and Expenditure Statements

In the for-profit world, the P&L or Profit and Loss Statement (often referred to in the nonprofit world as the Statement of Activities and Statement of Functional Expenses) is essential fortracking the financial health of your operation. Keeping track of and projecting your revenues and expenditures by type are just as essential in the nonprofit world. For the purposes of this week’s business tip, I want to highlight the ins and outs on the expense side. Why? Because organizations that don’t have good expense control will often fall victim to the lack of predictability on the revenue side, creating significant risk to their future and the fulfillment of their mission. Continue Reading

Business Tip of the Week: Business Documents

This is the first of what we hope to be regular business tips from within and outside INN. Today’s topic: sample business documents. Later this year, INN will be launching a new website featuring a series of best-practices driven guides specifically for our nonprofit member organizations. In the meantime, I hear a lot of requests from members for suggestions on how they can get sample documents that they can scrub and repurpose for their own day-to-day operations. With the understanding that neither I nor any of the INN staff are trained and accredited lawyers, accountants or human resources professionals, and that one should always consult with said professionals before using a “borrowed” document, let me share with you a treasure trove of free and low-cost documents that are available to you right away: Docstoc.com. Continue Reading

How Open Should Nonprofits Be with Community Supporters About Money?

Ask early and ask strategically. As journalists, we’re good at applying this concept when it comes to asking for information, but less so when it comes to asking for the money that will keep our nonprofit shops operating. Like a lot of my peers new to running this brand of newsroom, I’m getting better at fundraising, and I’m always looking for object lessons. I think I’ve found one in the recent shutdown of The Florida Independent and the year-end layoffs at voiceofsandiego. The message from readers in each case was the same: “Why didn’t you tell us you were in trouble? Continue Reading

Knight Foundation Promotes Donor Transparency in Digital Media

The Knight Foundation has announced a new policy to promote donor transparency in digital media. It will require the foundation’s media grantees to disclose major donors, in recognition of transparency’s “core value in the digital age,” according to the foundation. The policy applies to new grants in journalism and media. “As media demand a more open society, society is demanding a more open media,” Knight Foundation’s Michael Maness said. The requirement states that donations of more than $5,000 to Knight-funded projects must be disclosed on the organization’s website. Continue Reading

Patterson Foundation and INN Discuss Nonprofit and Independent News Funding Needs

Financial Sustainability Workshop: A meeting for Funders and Publishers
Organized by The Patterson Foundation and the Investigative News Network
In December, The Patterson Foundation and the Investigative News Network invited representatives from national foundations that have been supporting independent and nonprofit journalism to participate in a February conversation about financial sustainability for journalism’s startups. The idea for this meeting grew out of a relatively new connection between Kevin Davis, INN executive director, and Janet Coats, new media journalism initiative manager for The Patterson Foundation. Janet was working on TPF’s behalf to launch an experimental, high-intensity business mentoring program for community news publishers called Super Camp. Kevin was incubating an idea for a similar program for INN members. Quickly realizing that they were circling the same idea, they began to share their thoughts about how such a program could work, and what else might be possible to help independent news sites not just survive but thrive. Continue Reading

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An Inside Look at News Innovation: Capital Business

When many news organizations are figuring out how to restructure operations as well as innovate these days, other news entities are ahead of the curve. The Hub takes an inside look at the weekly publication Capital Business, a unique news initiative of the Washington Post. This stand-alone business launched in April 2010 as a weekly publication as part of a special package for print subscribers of the Washington Post. The weekly seeks to cover issues related to banking, real estate, retail, technology, government contracts and the Washington D.C. business community. Since 2010, the weekly has continued to grow. Continue Reading

Steps to a Successful 2012 for the News Venture

As the New Year is now underway, what are the steps you and your staff are taking to have a successful year? It’s time to take advantage of the month of January and start with a clean slate to identify new strategies to help your news venture grow in the coming year. The Hub has some tips to help you get started on the path to a successful 2012. Revisit your mission and goals. The beginning of the year provides a fresh start to reexamine where your organization has been in the past year and where it should be going this year. Continue Reading

Tools to Help Manage the Business

As a start-up news venture, it’s crucial to have a good toolbox for managing your business as it grows. There are several digital tools nowadays to help with managing your contacts, facilitating collaboration between your employees, storing and retrieving digital files, and managing the money. Several of these tools are available for free or at a discounted rate for the nonprofit organization. The Hub has some suggested tools to get you started:

Collaboration and Project Management: Basecamp
Whether you have a small or large-size organization, having a good project management structure and system is a must. Basecamp is project management software that allows you to manage a variety of projects across several departments in your organization and have a virtual location by which to access the information about the project. Continue Reading