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As nonprofit news emerges as a vital public service, funders pledge $3.8 million to match individual donations

October 26, 2021

NewsMatch 2021 will support newsrooms delivering vital pandemic information, investigating abuses of power and strengthening communities across America.

Oct. 26, 2021 — LOS ANGELES — Local newsrooms across America that delivered life-saving information during the pandemic, and investigative newsrooms that broke some of the biggest stories of the year, are about to kick off NewsMatch 2021 — an annual campaign in which individual donations to nonprofit news organizations will be matched and in some cases multiplied. The annual year-end fundraising drive starts Nov. 1, the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) said today.

The two-month campaign powers a nonprofit news industry that has grown in size during the pandemic, proving itself an essential — and economically resilient — public service. A total of 302 digital newsrooms will participate in NewsMatch, up from 260 in 2020 and 195 in 2019 — a 55% increase since before the pandemic. All are members of INN, which vets them as independent, nonpartisan journalism organizations.

“Communities across the nation are challenged with issues brought on by a lack of quality, reliable news — but the nonprofit news movement is changing that. Nonprofit newsrooms are fulfilling their public-service mission of bringing critical information and insights to communities,” said Sue Cross, INN executive director. “By supporting NewsMatch, funders have an easy, one-stop way to advance trusted, reliable news that strengthens communities, and ultimately strengthens democracy from the local level on up.”

Kansas City Beacon reporter Celisa Calacal conducts an interview.
Photo courtesy of The Beacon
Kansas City Beacon reporter Celisa Calacal conducts an interview.

So far, national organizations have committed $3.8 million in seed funds, a figure that’s expected to increase during the campaign. In 2020, nonprofit newsrooms leveraged $4.4 million in national matching funds to unlock an additional $3.1 million in local matches and $47 million from over 1 million individual donors. That nearly 11-times return on investment marked a profound shift to local and regional funding for NewsMatch, which was funded largely by national foundations in its first two years.

From Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, newsrooms will conduct their own fundraising efforts as part of the campaign. NewsMatch has a multiplier effect: nonprofit newsrooms not only strengthen their core skills raising funds from individual donors, but also help attract additional matching funds from businesses, place-based foundations and issue-based donors. 

NewsMatch 2021 opens at a time when the public-service mission of nonprofit news has never been more evident. Amid the pandemic, newsrooms such as Wisconsin Watch and Block Club Chicago took a page from the playbook of Detroit’s Outlier Media to use text messages to direct their communities to health, food and housing services amid the pandemic. The Conversation elevated the expertise of scientists, virologists, physicians and nurses, and Politifact worked with healthcare experts to debunk false claims about COVID-19 and present truthful information in its stead.

Meanwhile, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, an INN member that coordinated the Panama Papers investigation five years ago, came back this month with the blockbuster Pandora Papers, exposing an international financial system exploited by the world’s rich and powerful, including national leaders. Other INN member investigative newsrooms were recently honored with awards for exposing misdeeds on the local level, in Washington, D.C., Colorado, Pennsylvania and other locales.

More than 2,000 American newspapers have closed over the past 15 years, including more than 90 since the start of the pandemic, as advertising plummeted. Nonprofit newsrooms rely on a variety of revenue sources, from memberships, sponsorships and events to individual, local, regional and national philanthropy, making their business models relatively resilient, as these case studies show.

For funders, NewsMatch provides a turn-key solution to support independent journalism: administration of matching funds is handled by NewsMatch partner The Miami Foundation. Increasingly, funders focused on issues such as education, healthcare or the environment are also funding independent journalism, recognizing that their work will have more impact if people are informed. The Fund for Nonprofit News at The Miami Foundation provides these philanthropies with the opportunity to invest in news organizations that meet INN’s standards of independence and transparency and that go deeper into complex issues than most legacy news outlets.

In recognition of the role NewsMatch has served in strengthening nonprofit news, six national funders made multi-year commitments this year totaling more than $6.2 million: the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Democracy Fund; the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation; Inasmuch Foundation; Present Progressive Fund at Schwab Charitable; and the Walton Family Foundation. Knight’s $3.5 million, three-year commitment is earmarked to incentivize local philanthropists to contribute additional matching funds, and to support newsrooms led by people of color. 

How it works

NewsMatch is a collaborative fundraising movement designed to transform how communities support the journalism that serves them. The program centers on a fundraising model that leverages the power of matching gifts to inspire donations to nonprofit newsrooms from local community members and funders around the country.

NewsMatch is generously supported by Democracy Fund, Knight Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project, the Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust, Inasmuch Foundation, the Independence Public Media Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, Natasha and Dirk Ziff, the Present Progressive Fund at Schwab Charitable, Sarena Snider, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, and the Wyncote Foundation. Dozens of local and issue-based funders are also secured by newsrooms, increasing the pool of match funds during the year-end campaign.

NewsMatch participants are required to be active members of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), a membership organization that supports and advances independent, nonprofit news organizations that do original, fact-based reporting. 

INN and News Revenue Hub, an organization that specializes in financial sustainability strategies and implementation for nonprofit news, provide hundreds of hours of training resources and support in order to expand fundraising capacity and capabilities at participating news organizations. This helps ensure that the impact of NewsMatch is felt long into the future by fostering a more robust and resilient journalism landscape in America. 

NewsMatch is supported through the Fund for Nonprofit News, an open collaborative fund at The Miami Foundation. The Foundation oversees the fiscal administration of NewsMatch funds. The fund is still accepting contributions from foundations and donors who want a simple and powerful way to support local news and investigative journalism.

More about the participating newsrooms

The field for nonprofit news is growing: the Institute for Nonprofit News has accepted 60 new publishing members so far this year — a 25 percent increase over last year — bringing the total membership to more than 350. The INN network of more than 2,500 journalists across the country now provides reporting on a scale similar to National Public Radio and its member stations. In many cases, the younger news organizations are filling in reporting gaps left as long standing local and regional newspapers have closed.

As the field expands, it is also becoming more diverse: about one-fourth of INN member newsrooms are led by people of color and more than two-thirds make specific efforts to cover communities of color. Nearly all content produced by INN members is free to the public — and free to republish.

Newsrooms plan to use their NewsMatch grants in different ways, for example:

View the state-by-state listing of NewsMatch 2021 participants.

About the partners

The Institute for Nonprofit News strengthens and supports 350 independent news organizations in a new kind of media network: nonprofit, nonpartisan and dedicated to public service. From local news to in-depth reporting on pressing global issues, INN’s members tell stories that otherwise would go untold – connecting communities, holding the powerful accountable and strengthening democracy. Our vision is a world in which all people in every community have access to trustworthy news. INN programs help these news organizations develop revenue and business models to support strong reporting, collaborate on editorial and business innovation, share services and advance the diverse leaders who are forging a new future for news. See: inn.org

The Miami Foundation builds the philanthropic, civic, and leadership backbone for Greater Miami. Since 1967, the Foundation has invested $485 million to strengthen our community with partnerships and contributions from more than 1000 fundholders and 35,000 donors. The Miami Foundation, which currently manages over $350 million in assets, mobilizes donors, nonprofits, leaders, and locals to set a bold vision for our community’s future and to invest in a stronger, more equitable, more resilient Greater Miami. See: MiamiFoundation.org

The News Revenue Hub helps newsrooms rethink the business model of news through membership and audience development. See: fundjournalism.org

Media Inquiries:

Contact: Sharene Azimi, Communications Director, INN

About the funders and partners: History of NewsMatch fact sheet.

Photographs: Download high-resolution images of NewsMatch newsrooms.

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