The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Dec 07, 2010

Report: Half of Community Foundations Surveyed Fund Local Information Projects

Posted by Mayur Patel


In the past year, Knight Foundation, the FCC and numerous funders and community players have increasingly highlighted the role the philanthropic sector can play in addressing information and media as a core need in communities.

How is the field rising to that challenge? To what extent are community foundations providing funding to address information needs? What are the funding trends in media and information projects among community foundations?

Knight Foundation partnered with FSG Social Impact Advisors to explore these questions. In the spring, we conducted a field-wide survey of community and place-based foundations.''To confirm and expand upon these findings, a follow-up survey was conducted at the Council on Foundations conference for community foundations in September 2010.

Some 154 community foundations responded ' representing more than a fifth of the community foundation field.

The report provides the following highlights:

  • A majority of responding foundations are funding (50%) or considering funding (38%) information projects in their communities.

  • Nearly two thirds of responding foundations expect their funding to address community information needs to increase in the future.

  • The majority of funding for information projects is being used to support awareness campaigns and platforms for civic engagement, followed by efforts to build the digital and media literacy skills of community residents to use new information tools.

  • No foundation cited that information and media projects were too controversial as the issue preventing them from providing funding in this area. The three most frequently mentioned reasons for not addressing community information needs are a lack of funds, relevance to mission and a lack of exposure to the idea of supporting media and information projects.

Knight Foundation encourages community and place-based foundations to fund news and information projects through the Knight Community Information Challenge. So far, 65 locally-focused foundations have received $13 million through the challenge's matching grant program. Applications will be accepted again in January.

Read the entire survey and report he

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