Crossposted from the Council on Philanthropy's blog.
With community and place-based foundations increasingly supporting local information projects – they spent $58 million on the sector last year - the audience for the “Journalism and Media Grant Making” session at the Council on Foundations’ Fall Conference came prepared with sophisticated questions and their own insights to share.
Here’s a sample of the conversation:
How are nonprofit news sites becoming sustainable – particularly since there isn’t one magic business model?
The most successful have diversified revenues sources that include foundation grants, advertising, major donors, memberships and sponsorships, said Eric Newton, Knight Foundation’s senior adviser to the president. People will pay for content, Newton said, noting that the public has funded public media for more than half a century. But sites have to be entrepreneurial by nature.
The expense equation is important too. A budget solely devoted to good journalism is doomed to failure, said Michele McLellan, a Knight Foundation consultant who helps guide community foundations investing in this area. Funders need to take a close look at the site’s business development plan and technical capacity, both key to building and engaging audiences who will sustain the site.