7 ways to make 2015 more sustainable for news nonprofits

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions for your organization? It’s still not too late—and ending 2015 in a stronger financial position be a great one. Here are seven ways to help you do it:

1. Get your prospect list to 50. Make a list of 50 people or organizations that can move you forward, either by giving you money or helping you grow new lines of revenue, or by helping raise your visibility.

2. Commit to being consistent. Too many organizations put themselves on a sustainability roller coaster. They raise a whole lot of money, then stop fundraising until money gets low—then they start the process again. Sure, ups and downs are part of the start-up life, but you can smooth out those ups and downs: Commit to looking at that prospect list every week; commit to reaching out to five people on that list every Monday; make a goal of three meetings a week devoted to partnership or business development. That will give you plenty of time to do the journalism without neglecting sustainability.

3. Ask visitors to your site to do more than consume. Take a look at any article page on your site. What are you asking your visitors to do besides read, watch or comment? How are you asking them to help you with your goals for sustainability? Invite them to an in-person event or take a look at a crowdfunding pitch.

4. Get up close and personal. Hold an in-person event to strengthen the bonds with your readers. Want them to become supporters of the journalism you do? Take a page from the Center for Investigative Reporting and hold open coffee hours at a local coffee shop.

5. Look at your analytics every week. If you want to convert readers into supporters, having a basic understanding of what part of your work people care about the most, how people get to your site—and how and why they leave—is key. What is your biggest “exit page”? If you don’t know, find out—it’s all there in your analytics. Then put something there to motivate them to stick around and get to know you better.

6. Think about your grants in a new way. You won a grant! Congratulations, that’s great! Now: What can you do with this grant that will make you less dependent on foundation funding in the future? Take yourself out of the spin-cycle of living from grant to grant.

7. Keep crowdfunding simple and fun. Abstract ideas don’t do as well as specific and relatable concepts—a pitch about a specific story is better than one about a beat or a general idea. And the more visual you can be about what you’re asking people to support, the better.

INN works with nonprofit news organizations every day to make sure their efforts are in line with their long-term sustainability goals. If you have questions or want to talk about any of these topics, feel free to schedule an hour with us by emailing me at lisa@inn.org