Business Resources

The INN Box: Office Hours for Business and Planning Assistance

Most INN members started a news organization because of their passion for investigative and public service journalism, yet to sustain the organization, they’ve had to expand their business acumen. This juggling act can be challenging. That’s where we can help.

Bring your strategy and business questions, ideas and challenges to the weekly ZOOM video chat sessions held Wednesdays  3-4 pm EST. Sign up for a time slot and access instructions here: INN Box Office Hours Schedule

Who could benefit from these chat sessions?

Those who:

  • Are crafting a business model and need some guidance.
  • Want to develop a business plan, but aren’t sure where to start or how to approach the task.
  • Are wrestling which how to prioritize various audience, revenue and distribution models for nonprofit news.
  • Those facing a strategic shift or crossroads and need help thinking it through.
  • Have created a business plan draft and need some objective feedback.
  • Have an idea for a new revenue stream, but aren’t sure how to go from idea  to execution.
  • Are diversifying into advertising/underwriting revenue and need assistance with a sales strategy and implementation plans.
  • Need help building financial projections.
  • Want to better understand the story your financials are telling you.

Best practices

Drawing on the experience of our 100+ members, INN has compiled best practices on the business and practice of journalism for emerging news nonprofits. Explore our Learn site to draw from the knowledge of our members. (A note: we also think it's important for nascent organizations to think through a variety of ethical issues. Our ethics policies resource is available here.)

Major Gifts/Major Donor Services

Approaches, services and discounts for INN members

INN recommends that nonprofit news organizations start planning major gift or major donor programs as soon as you’ve launched your organization -- or at any point in your development.

  • Nonprofits get 71% of their philanthropic funding from individuals, vs. 16% from foundations (GivingUSA2016)
  • For small nonprofits with funding plans, 50% of individual donor income comes from donors giving $1,000 or more. Online giving runs about 17%. (SSIR 12.1.15).
  • Major giving is now the fastest growing revenue area in public media and small stations are being encouraged to invest in major giving programs (Current, 3.20.17)

In other words, most nonprofits should not wait until they hit a certain size to start planning major donor programs -- start now.

What it takes:

  • Creating a plan. Small nonprofits with a funding plan find a good return on money spent on major donor fundraising, but those without a plan do not see so clear a return.
  • Scaling your goals. The most effective pipelines for major gifts have about 20 prospects max, a study of small nonprofits found. A development director or executive director devoting 30-40% of his or her time to donor cultivation can handle about 50 prospects. Less time? Scale it down; this is a case where less brings more.
  • Blocking time. Work with a board member to hold you accountable. Otherwise news and urgent needs will get in the way. Executive Directors should plan to devote enough time to hold at least four major donor contact meetings per month, at the bare minimum. More contact and time on cultivation brings higher support levels.
  • Looking at this as a long-term investment. Major gift plans take 1-3 years to start paying off.


INN Major Gift Services & Discounts


Members save 60% on DonorSearch through INN

INN assessed several major wealth capacity database services and partnered with DonorSearch on behalf of INN members. DonorSearch is widely used in public media and fits the needs of nonprofit news development. It emphasizes assessments of potential donors’ charitable and political giving, not just the value of their assets. In media as in politics, the interest and patterns of giving may be more meaningful in identifying their likelihood of support than the value of their assets.

Members who have a development staff or want to do their own database research on DonorSearch now can get an annual subscription to DonorSearch through INN at a significant discount from having their own individual subscription. Services are the same as with individual subscriptions. INN member subscribers gain full annual access to DonorSearch databases with all available filters, plus the ability to batch screen names through the DonorSearch database for a flat rate per name.

This option is best for organizations with a development director or where someone can invest the time to get adept at analyzing DonorSearch database results and regularly use the database.  Find the details on how it works and read the INN DonorSearch Annual Subscription Agreement

 You can be up and running in DonorSearch usually within two business days of receipt of your DonorSearch Annual Subscription Payment.

Members getting INN DonorSearch Annual Subscription also have access to the annual schedule of Major Gifts online training sessions and related materials.

Resources and links:

Check out the library of how-tos and white papers from Veritus Group:

Of particular note;

How to get started:

On small market public radio major gifts:

Small nonprofit major gift planning:

Guidestar on major gift programs for small nonprofits: