The Institute for Nonprofit News is a highly collaborative network of 400+ independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan news organizations.
Members of INN gain access to resources, training opportunities and tools that develop journalists’ business skills, help them achieve success and sustainability, expand audience reach and build new models for news.
INN member newsrooms produce quality journalism that promotes positive civic engagement, provides a forum for diverse views — including those historically underrepresented in media — and holds accountable those in positions of public trust.
When an organization becomes a member, all staff gain access to the network and its benefits. We hope you’ll learn more and consider joining us!
What are the benefits of INN membership?
Here are some of the ways INN membership supports your success, whether you are an established enterprise, a growing newsroom or still in the concept stage:
For all members
Editorial Collaborations– INN staff work with members to build collaborative projects, allowing them to boost the strength and reach of their reporting.
INN Events– Members enjoy access to webinars, training opportunities and events, such as the annual INN Days, the biggest conference focused on the business side of nonprofit journalism.
NewsMatch – INN helps growing newsrooms boost their donated revenue with this dollar-for-dollar match program.
News Giving Roadmap – The first-of-its-kind for nonprofit news, this comprehensive program helps members understand where they are on the fundraising journey and then master the path to major giving success.
Fundraising Shared Services – Members enjoy free and deeply discounted rates on prospect research, wealth screenings, donor profiles and grant writing.
Racial Equity and Inclusion in Nonprofit News – REINN allows leaders to join an ongoing process of building racial equity into their organizational practices. Each element is designed to be accessible, particularly to small and mid-size news operations, in any stage of their DEI work.
INN Index – The most comprehensive studies of nonprofit news media, the INN Index reports provide insights into staffing, business models, financials, and editorial focus.
Peer Communities– INN’s peer community Slack channels allow members to connect with their peers at similar organizations or in similar roles to ask questions, share knowledge, support one another and organize virtual meet-ups such as our monthly “From the Field” web discussions.
INN Listserv– Members of INN use the email listserv to communicate with colleagues across the network.
Legal and Media Insurance Consultations – INN partners with experts to provide access to free or discounted legal and media liability insurance consultations.
Accounting – INN offers full-charge accounting services for members needing assistance running the day-to-day activities of their back-office — from paying vendors and recording revenues to tracking grant expenditures and monthly financial reporting.
Health insurance/payroll partnerships – INN partners with Justworks, a service provider for health insurance, payroll and other benefits. Members save at least $120 per employee per year on fees, and also receive two free months on the platform.
Network Philanthropy Center – Members that do not yet have development staff benefit from individual consultations with INN’s experts and access to shared resources.
For startups and new nonprofits
Fiscal Sponsorship – Save time and effort by having INN be your 501(c)(3) sponsor, allowing you to receive tax-deductible donations while you ramp up operations.
The INN Startup Guide – Information and tools to help you launch an independent newsroom and lead a successful enterprise.
Sessions for Startups — From idea stage through launch, INN coaches can help you think through building community support, 501(c)3 options, building a strong board, setting up transparency and ethics for trust, financial support and other key business and news strategies.
Newspaper conversions — Check out our nonprofit conversion case studies, and if you’re a for-profit news outlet thinking of conversion to nonprofit, join our startup sessions as well. We’re happy to help you think through options, whether or not a 501(c)3 is right for you or not.
For established members
Content Distribution– Members distribute content via third-party platforms, thanks to agreements negotiated by INN, allowing them to reach new readers and earn revenue from the additional traffic. Access to national and international news distribution platforms includes NewsBreak, SmartNews, Patch, and Nextdoor.
Internships and Fellowships – INN partners with educational institutions and nonprofits that match member newsrooms with talented interns and subsidize intern salaries.
Emerging Leaders Council– Members nominate their rising stars for this training program. Participants, through one-on-one coaching and dynamic group conversations, build leadership and business skills, and design a project for their news organization.
Compensation Study – The INN survey of members, a benchmark for the nonprofit news industry, provides targeted compensation and benefits data for specific job roles at newsrooms across the INN network. Free for participating INN members and at substantially reduced costs to others.
Who can join INN?
INN membership is open to independent, nonprofit news organizations that:
Produce high-quality and original journalism that serves their communities through trustworthy information and encouraging civic engagement
Organizations apply to join INN and then are vetted by INN staff to ensure they meet standards for ethics, transparency, independence and quality of journalism. Applicants are approved for membership by leading journalists on the INN Board of Directors.
Once accepted, members will be asked to pay INN dues, which range from $150 to $1,000 per year and are based on the organization’s annual revenue. View dues scale. Also upon acceptance, members will be asked to sign the INN Membership Agreement (preview the agreements for Full/Provisional Members and Affiliate Members.)
Before applying, please, read through the information on this page to confirm your organization is a good candidate for membership. Additional information can be found on our FAQ page. You’re also welcome to schedule a one-on-one call with INN’s membership team before submitting your application by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Types of membership
INN is a network of independent newsrooms. Members generally have their own 501c3 designation. If fiscally sponsored, they must have editorial, programmatic and operational independence from their fiscal sponsor.
Full membership is open to organizations that:
Demonstrate the capacity to regularly publish original reporting of high quality that is investigative or public service by nature, such as expert explanatory reporting or coverage of community, civic and public affairs. INN generally does not accept publications that primarily publish opinion, analysis, arts/cultural/community events, literary writing, reviews or curated collections of third-party material unless they include substantial and regular original news reporting.
Apply high journalistic standards for accuracy and fairness, including openly correcting errors and prominently labeling opinion, commentary and sponsored content. Maintain editorial and organizational independence. INN members do not advocate or operate in a way that promotes any legislation, policies, government action or outcomes, though policy or legislative changes may be a consequence of their reporting. Members avoid conflicts of interest that could compromise the integrity of the work. They lobby only for freedom of information and freedom of press issues.
Outlets with strong points of view will be accepted on a case-by-case basis. They must produce original reporting that does not misrepresent facts, selectively choose sources or selectively publish stories in an attempt to advance a policy or cause. In other words, they report with impartiality, attempting to achieve fairness in content of distinct points of view with objectivity and dedication to truth.
Report for the general public. Religious, campus or student publications generally do not qualify for INN membership unless they are primarily covering general news for a general audience and meet INN’s standards for editorial independence. Student publications covering general news also should have professional editorial staff or be closely partnered with a professional organization to be considered.
INN loves our partners and peer organizations! INN is honored to count as affiliate members many organizations that aren’t primarily newsrooms, but share the INN mission of advancing public service journalism. We are proud to include as affiliate members such support organizations as the Center for Cooperative Media, Military Veterans in Journalism, the Investigative Editing Corps and News Revenue Hub.
Why become an affiliate?
Join the growing community of 400+ nonprofit members! Take part in peer groups and Slack channels; learn from the rich flow of information-sharing within the INN nonprofit news community. Be part of the conversation about reinventing this new and inclusive kind of public service journalism.
Enjoy member rates for training, events, shared services.
Align and support our linked missions.
Make it even easier to partner. We love working with our affiliates to advance each other’s programs and priorities.
Affiliate membership is available to organizations that are not primarily newsrooms, but advance nonprofit, public service journalism in other ways. For example, they might include:
Journalism support organizations, such as a 501(c)3 that works to support and encourage nonprofit journalism in the public interest.
An accredited university journalism or communications program that trains student journalists and/or researches news topics of public interest
An accredited university philanthropy, public affairs or business program that researches, trains students in or otherwise supports the financial health and civic benefit of investigative and public service journalism.
What wouldn’t qualify:
INN generally does not accept as members: B Corporations, 501c4 nonprofits, or staff publications of nonprofits that have a mission other than journalism, such as museum magazines, publications produced by think tanks, associations or policy/advocacy organizations.
INN does not accept cause communications, corporate or trade outlets even if content is produced using journalism techniques.
Affiliate organizations may participate in most INN network programs and INN services. Affiliate[s] do not vote on bylaws or elections to the INN Board of Directors, nor can they run for the INN board. Affiliates and non-publishing members of INN do not qualify for NewsMatch.
Most members are accepted after they have a track record of news coverage, and most publications should wait until they have launched to apply. News organizations in planning stages can participate in most INN programs even before they become members. In special circumstances, provisional membership may be available to select qualifying news startups, led by established journalists, for up to one year before launch of publication. Publications seeking provisional membership should include with their application a publication or strategic plan that indicates they will meet membership requirements once publication begins, make sure they meet the following standards and have them in place before applying:
Policies to meet INN requirements for editorial independence and transparency.
A leadership team that includes journalists with proven professional records in news.
A board or pre-launch advisory board formed that can guide launch of a high-quality journalism organization.
Incorporation in their state.
501(c)(3) status, an application that has been submitted for 501(c)3 status, or a fiscal sponsorship agreement that ensures organizational and editorial independence. See FAQs.
Editorial independence and transparency
Public trust in journalism is essential. To build and maintain trust, journalists and their organizations must be truthful, transparent and independent in their reporting in order to best serve the public.
All INN members share a commitment to transparency and, by becoming members, agree to publish policies regarding fundraising, donations and conflict-of-interest on their websites, in an effort to maintain reader trust. These policies must specify what kind of funding the publication will and won’t accept.
As an INN member, a publication agrees to:
Confirm its 501(c)(3) certified by the Internal Revenue Service or have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit fiscal sponsor. Canadian publications and those based at universities with a different IRS status are invited to consult with INN before applying. INN can provide fiscal sponsorship for qualifying journalism nonprofits that are starting up or converting to nonprofit from for-profit status.
Publish financial information publicly to a publication’s website and/or print product.
Identify all donors to the organization that give more than $5,000 in a year by publicly listing them on the publication’s site and/or posting a link to 990 tax filings that identify donors of $5,000 or more.
Post either full 990 filings, links to their 990, or equivalent budget, salary and donor information on its website where consumers can access it. In the case of fiscally sponsored organizations, the member will post a link to its sponsor’s 990, and publish on its own site all funders of $5,000 and above.
Ensure that no more than 15 percent of its total annual budget derives from anonymous donations.
Post an editorial independence policy.
If the publication has a fiscal sponsor or parent 501(c)3 organization, publicly disclose and explain how the news project maintains editorial independence from its fiscal sponsor or parent, and if or how donor funds are separated between the organizations.
INN encourages all members to adopt, publicize and share with donors and other relevant partners their policies on editorial independence, conflicts of interest, ethics and privacy. Members are welcome to adopt or adapt INN’s standard of editorial independence and share that with donors. The editorial independence and samples of these other types of policies can be found on INN’s Ethics & Governance page.
Prospective members applying for membership should include an explanation of any variance from these standards with their application for the board to review. INN may investigate, at its discretion, any complaints or any evidence that it discovers that would suggest that a member organization has violated membership standards and/or the membership agreement.
The Institute for Nonprofit News’ staff and board members will be considering membership applications across three cycles in 2022:
Membership applications received between Jan 1 and April 15 will hear back from INN by May 31. Newsrooms interested in participating in NewsMatch must submit membership applications in this window.
Applications received between April 16 and August 30 will hear back from INN by October 15.
Applications received between September 1 and December 31 will hear back by February 15.
All membership applications are reviewed by INN’s membership team and then go to INN’s Board of Directors for approval. Applications that need further consideration are forwarded to INN’s Membership Task Force, which typically meets one time per application window.
Applicants pay a $75 nonrefundable application fee.
Am I ready to apply?
Organizations will be asked to provide specific links and information in order to qualify for full membership. Review the checklist below (download a copy here). If you’re able to check off each item, then submit an application for full membership. If some items are missing, but you plan to fulfill them soon, submitting a provisional membership application will give you time to do so. Applicants considered for full membership: