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The INN Index

About the Index

The INN Index is the most comprehensive dataset on nonprofit news in North America.

As the nonprofit news field rapidly changes and grows, INN tracks and studies what’s happening behind the scenes. Index data indicates what drives nonprofit news, how it’s funded, who it serves, and how we can continue expanding sources of high-quality information for the public.

The Institute for Nonprofit News has conducted this annual Index survey of its member news organizations since 2018, capturing performance in 2017. Those organizations act as a research consortium by sharing their business and editorial statistics to help each other benchmark their own development. This practice also helps INN and experts in the field evaluate and better understand new media business models, staffing needs and editorial focus of newsrooms as they form.

Please contact INN’s communications team with any questions or press inquiries.


  • Primary authors: Jesse Holcomb, Michele McLellan, Emily Roseman and Ha Ta
  • Author for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion section: Susanna Dilliplane
  • Editor: Marquita Brown 
  • Data collection and analysis: Many thanks to our Index research assistants, including Calvin University students Sherise Immanuela and Ethan Meyers
  • Data visualization: Ha Ta


INN’s Index is made possible thanks to the Knight Foundation along with INN’s individual donors and its general support funders, including Arnold Ventures, Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, Democracy Fund, Hubbard Family Foundation, Inasmuch Foundation, Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, Nan H. Altmayer Charitable Trust, Mostyn Foundation, Present Progressive Fund, PCLB Foundation, The Baltimore Family Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Schaffer Family Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Methods and Definitions

See below for our research team’s methods and defined terms. Please email INN’s Research Director Emily Roseman ( with any questions. 


About the survey: INN distributed the survey online in January 2024 to 409 INN Network newsrooms, excluding service organizations that are also INN members. Ninety percent, or 370 organizations, completed the survey. Survey responses reflect performance in the calendar year 2023. Previous years’ surveys were generally representative with response rates ranging from 54% to 94%. Starting in 2020, INN began requiring outlets participating in NewsMatch to complete the Index survey, which raised completion rates for subsequent surveys. Survey language is provided here. The data do not scientifically represent all North American nonprofit news outlets because not all of them belong to INN, including an array of public media stations. Cautiously interpret specific year-over-year comparisons; this report draws directional trends across the field.

A note on the cohort used for this report: This report includes the data of 346 of the 370 news organizations that completed the survey. The report does not include data provided by 20 members from the public media sector due to systematic differences in how they report revenue and expenses. Four more outlets were excluded because they are not primarily publishers. 

For the revenue analysis portion, 13 startups younger than one year were excluded as they did not have annual data to compare. An additional nine organizations did not provide revenue data. Thus, the revenue section of the report is based on the information provided by 324 outlets. Year-over-year financial comparisons are drawn from smaller cohorts of outlets that provided complete financial data for 2022-2023 (N= 265).

A note on medians vs. averages vs. ranges: The Index authors believe median calculations are more representative due to two factors: a relatively small sample size and some significant outliers that skew averages. However, for some calculations like the average donation in dollars, we can’t calculate the median since we do not have a list of data points for this survey question. In these cases, we default to averages. We supply a range of cases where knowing the upper and lower limits of a data point help with understanding the field. 


  • Core group of digital-first, independent publishers: This term refers to the digital-first outlets who are not public broadcasters. The research team excluded financial data from the two dozen public broadcasting INN members due to systematic differences in how the organizations report revenue and expenses. 
  • Direct audiences: Direct audiences use and engage with a news outlet’s platforms, including its website, email newsletters and social media platforms. Direct audiences are largely interpreted in this report as a news organization’s web traffic (measured by average monthly unique visitors) and its number of email newsletter subscribers. 
  • Earned revenue: Earned revenue is the funds a nonprofit organization generates by providing value to businesses including sponsorship, advertising and underwriting. This contrasts with funds received from philanthropic sources, such as grants and major gifts. Earned revenue is one of the three major revenue streams for nonprofit news. 
  • Foundations: Foundations are nonprofit organizations that support charitable activities to serve the common good. Foundation funding is one of three major revenue streams for nonprofit news. 
  • Individual giving: This umbrella term encompasses financial contributions from individuals, including small-dollar ($1,000 or less), mid-level ($1,000 – $5,000) and major donors ($5,000 or more). Survey respondents use these shared definitions for their Index survey reporting. Individual giving is one of the three major revenue streams for nonprofit news. 
  • Local news: Local news organizations cover part or all of a community, municipality or county or a cluster of them, ranging from large metro areas to small neighborhoods. 
  • State news: State news outlets primarily focus on government policy, politics or topics of public interest such as health or the environment in a single state. 
  • Regional news: Regional news outlets cover news within two or more states or parts of states making up a region such as a Midwest reporting outlet. 
  • National news: National organizations focus on public affairs issues that affect, in this context, the United States, except for two survey respondents in Canada. 
  • Global news: Global organizations cover broad world topics or produce news of distant places. 
  • Third-party audiences: This term refers to audiences interacting with a news outlet’s coverage or services but on a platform not managed by the news outlet itself. In this report, we refer to the organizations managing these external platforms as “third-party publishers.” Third-party audiences largely come from other news outlets republishing or rebroadcasting content, including on social media and other digital platforms.
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