March 20, 2012

The Investigative News Network Receives Nonprofit Status from the IRS

The Investigative News Network (INN) has received approval of non-profit 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, allowing the organization to directly receive grants from foundations and donations from individuals and continue its mission of supporting investigative journalism.

The approval was granted on Friday, March 16, nineteen months after INN applied for 501(c)(3) status and following numerous discussions with the IRS over INN's mission and goals. Over the past two years, the IRS has, in general, increased its scrutiny of journalism-related applicants.

"We are delighted with the IRS ruling, which reflects the intent of INN to provide public service journalism to citizens everywhere and to hold government and business accountable through nonpartisan reporting," said Brant Houston, chair of INN's board of directors and one of the co-founders of INN.

Incorporated in December 2009, INN was created by a group of nonprofit newsrooms that wanted to collaborate on news stories, share administrative resources and provide better ways to distribute content. Since then, INN has grown to more than 60 member organizations, created a central office and educated journalists on sustainable nonprofit business practices.

“Receiving a determination letter from the IRS validates our mission to help fill the void left by the pullback of commercial media on investigative and accountability journalism in the public interest,” said Kevin Davis, INN's CEO. “We hope the IRS will expedite the processing of applications from numerous nonprofit newsrooms that also have been waiting months, if not years.”

Houston praised Davis for his work during the arduous application process.

"Because of Kevin's energy and focus, we continued to make tremendous progress at INN while going through a much longer than expected application process," Houston said. "By clearing this latest hurdle, INN is poised to take its work to a new and exciting level."

Houston and Davis both thanked the Online Media Law Network at the Berkman Center at Harvard University for helping to arrange pro bono representation by the Washington D.C. law firm of Covington and Burling.

"The law firm’s expertise in nonprofit tax law played a key role in the success of our application," Davis said.

The Center for Public Integrity served as INN's fiscal sponsor from its inception, handling the receipt of grants and donations and providing some accounting services.

“Throughout this long process, INN has enjoyed the unwavering support of our fiscal sponsor, the members of our board and the foundations that have shared in our vision,” said Davis. “The nonprofit public interest news movement could not survive without their continued dedication and work.”

About Investigative News Network:

INN is a growing consortium of nonprofit news organizations in North America that produces nonpartisan investigative and public service journalism on a local, national and topic-specialization basis. It is composed of 60 news organizations that create long-form and ongoing stories that keep communities informed on the issues they most care about. For more information, visit