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NewsMatch expands journalism funding from national foundations to local funders and individual donors

April 5, 2023

Investment in nonprofit news organizations exceeds $270 million

For the first time, nonprofit news organizations attracted more matching funds from local funders than from national and regional foundations during NewsMatch, the year-end matching-gift campaign that is transforming how communities sustain and expand access to the news coverage they need. 

NewsMatch 2022 kicked off in November with $4.6 million* in matching funds from a group of national, regional and interest-based funders designed to incentivize giving from local partners and individuals. The 303 participating newsrooms — all members of the Institute for Nonprofit News Network (INN Network) — leveraged fundraising training and tools provided through NewsMatch to replicate the national model and secure more than $5.5 million in additional matching gifts from community foundations, local philanthropists and small businesses. 

Emma Uk, senior reporter at Public Square Amplified, interviewing Rev. William J. Barber at the Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) rally in Newark, New Jersey, on June 4, 2022. Public Square Amplified is one of 303 nonprofit news organizations that participated in NewsMatch 2022. Photo credit by Josie Gonsalves for Public Square Amplified

Participating organizations also raised over $38 million in donations from more than 230,000 individuals (many of them first-time donors), for a total of $43 million generated during the last two months of the year — about 10 times the amount of matching funds from NewsMatch. 

Since 2016, the campaign has helped raise more than $270 million to jumpstart emerging newsrooms and support independent media outlets that produce fact-based, nonpartisan news and information.

Visit our Press Room to view 2022 data and year-over-year results.

“The question is less about how to save the business model than about how we can build enduring solutions for journalism that serve everyone,” said Courtney Lewis, chief of growth programs for INN. “The flexibility of NewsMatch allows philanthropists with a broad range of interests to invest in newsrooms that are building new models and methods to reach their communities. Seeing a growing swell of support for this type of journalism is truly exciting.”

NewsMatch provides funders that may not have previously funded journalism with a flexible tool to advance their philanthropic priorities, whether that is serving a local community by sustaining news as a public service or increasing understanding of critical issues like education and health care. For some funders, like longtime NewsMatch partner Democracy Fund, it advances goals that are at the heart of American democracy — boosting civic engagement, reducing bias and mitigating polarization. 

“Without INN, organizations like Milwaukee NNS would not be in business. We don’t have a big infrastructure. NewsMatch levels the playing field for everyone.”

Ron SMith, executive director of Milwaukee Neigihborhood news service & INN board member

The Joyce Foundation, a new NewsMatch partner in 2022, funds organizations advancing racial equity and economic mobility in the Great Lakes region. It contributed a total of $50,000 in matching funds to 10 newsrooms, including Outlier Media, a Detroit-based nonprofit whose coverage of housing, health and other topics consistently create local impact by improving conditions for low-income residents of the majority-Black city.

“NewsMatch is a great way to strengthen how journalists serve our communities,” said Hugh Dellios, the Joyce Foundation’s senior program officer for journalism. “Like Outlier, there are many great, entrepreneurial nonprofits out there, pointing the way toward a more solid future for journalism, and NewsMatch allows us to support more of them.” 

The James and Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation started in 1983 with the mission of sending one Mississippi student to college each year. Over time they have increased the number of scholarships they provide and have expanded into funding cultural institutions. This year, Margaret McMullan built on her parents’ legacy of supporting education by making a three-year commitment to Mississippi Free Press, which covers the social, political and structural challenges facing Mississippians — and trains aspiring journalists to do in-depth reporting. The organization used the first of three $10,000 gifts from the foundation to inspire individual donations during NewsMatch. 

“What I appreciate about Mississippi Free Press is that they are training young writers,” said McMullan. “When you’re writing about things that you’re interested in, that you’re passionate about, you’re becoming a more engaged citizen, and that’s a better voter. Every one of those students is going to pass that along. And that’s what we need, especially in Mississippi: a more aware and engaged citizenry.”

Civic-minded businesses are stepping up, too. In Harpswell, Maine, a restaurant has become a repeat sponsor, contributing $2,500 for each of the last two NewsMatch cycles. 

Christopher Gardner opened School House 1913 with his partner Joseph Arena shortly before the pandemic hit — and shortly before the original Harpswell Anchor stopped publishing. When the small town rallied to relaunch the Harpswell Anchor as a nonprofit organization, School House 1913 hosted a “meet the editor” event and became a founding sponsor of the new entity. 

Gardner credits the current leadership of the Harpswell Anchor with doing a great job of sending reporters out to talk to people and providing coverage that lets residents know what is going on.

“This place has a real sense of community that you don’t see much these days,” said Gardner. “The value of our advertising in the Anchor is not in the advertising — everyone knows us at this point. Our support is about being part of that larger community, that family.”

In addition to matching gifts, the NewsMatch program provides coaching and tools to build fundraising expertise.

Ron Smith, the executive director of Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service (NNS), says that for more than a decade, until this year, his organization operated without a dedicated fundraiser. This left the staff to find ways to assemble funding that would allow them to achieve their mission of filling the information needs of communities of color that have been ignored by other media. Thanks to the messaging, email templates and expert advice provided through NewsMatch, NNS has been able to build a base of donors both within and outside the communities it directly serves. 

“Without INN, organizations like Milwaukee NNS would not be in business. We don’t have a big infrastructure,” said Smith, who also serves as a member representative on INN’s Board of Directors. “NewsMatch levels the playing field for everyone.”

About NewsMatch

NewsMatch is open to members of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), which leads the INN Network — more than 400 independent news organizations across North America. The INN Network has grown more than 200% since 2017. To join, newsrooms must be independent and non-partisan, and committed to news as a civic good.

More than two-thirds of these digital-first, nonprofit newsrooms provide local, regional and state news, and are starting to fill the void left by the decline of local newspapers. The national and global newsrooms in the INN Network offer expert coverage of politics as well as complex issues like immigration, gun violence and climate change. 

For funders, NewsMatch offers unparalleled data-based insight into the state of the field as it evolves. The program’s collaborative fundraising model is one of its most distinctive and innovative elements, one that has built broad public support for the industry and encourages peer learning and dialogue among national funders. 

NewsMatch is a fiscally sponsored project of The Miami Foundation. Training and resources to help newsrooms expand their individual fundraising during NewsMatch and beyond are provided by INN and its partner News Revenue Hub.  

In 2022, NewsMatch supporters included Democracy Fund, Heising-Simons Foundation, Inasmuch Foundation,  Independence Public Media Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Kaphan Foundation, Loud Hound, Maida Lynn, Natasha and Dirk Ziff, The Schwab Charitable Fund, made possible by the generosity of the Present Progressive Fund, Solidarity Giving, Walton Family Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Wyncote Foundation, as well as close to 800 local match funders. In-kind support provided by The New York Times. 

The two-month NewsMatch campaign in November and December caps a growing base of year-round capacity-building and philanthropic support for local news provided by INN and peer organizations such as the American Journalism Project, LION Publishers, Report for America and Local Media Association.

* $748,000 was also awarded as goal-based bonuses, incentivizing the acquisition of new donors and securing local matches.

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