The Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) is a growing national network of 120 nonprofit news organizations dedicated to providing investigative and public service reporting. INN’s work helps newsrooms bring investigative and civic news to more people, hold the powerful accountable and strengthen democracy. More information can be found at https://inn.org.
Laura Frank is one of the founding members of INN, and she is also a veteran investigative journalist running a vibrant collaborative news organization called I-News. Laura shares her journey toward sustainability, her take on the membership benefits of the Investigative News Network, and how she views editorial collaboration as essential to the success of the network. Cater: We all share the same mandate within the network to serve the public and affect change…we have an opportunity among the members to compare notes and learn from each other. Can you start by describing your journey so far (with Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network) toward sustainability? Laura: Our journey started off at I-News when we were able to get off the ground by using some creative financing…I got a fellowship at the University of Colorado through the Scripps program. That was a terrific fellowship where you came with a project, and I-News was my project. So I was funded for a year while we got I-News up and running through this Ted Scripps fellowship, and it was a terrific program and helped get I-News off the ground. Cater: Since then, you’ve done even more creative fundraising. Congratulations on your Knight Foundation grant, which we’ve highlighted on the INN website. What did you learn?
Charles Lewis, founder and executive director of the Investigative Journalism Workshop at American University, issued a report at the Online News Association conference about the growing number of nonprofit, investigative journalism centers throughout the United States. The report examined 60 non-profits, 41 of them INN members. “They seem to be proliferating like rabbits,” Lewis said. It examined the demographics of non-profit employees, the financial transparency of the funding of these organizations, and whether than information is available to the public. Lewis was also a founding member of the Investigative News Network. He says, “The Investigative News Network has more than doubled in size since the Pocantico Declaration and meeting in July 2009. Literally we have gone from 20 organizations to 51 now, and climbing. And in The New Journalism Ecosystem report just published by the Investigative Reporting Workshop, examining 60 nonprofit organizations nationwide and placing it all in context, 41 organizations are members of INN.”
Lewis added: “The increase in the number of nonprofit news publishers nationwide and in the phenomenal growth of INN itself are, of course, directly related.
Public Radio Model Q&A
June 8, 2010
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
The June 8 Public Radio Model Q&A allowed Knight grantees the opportunity to hear more about the business model of WBUR, one of Boston’s NPR member stations. WBUR Station Manager, Corey Lewis, responded to questions, facilitated by Jim Bildner, CWV Advisor. The Q&A provided a brief overview of how a successful member NPR station sustains its membership and develops its audience, including a brief overview of the following aspects of WBUR’s business model: allocation of resources, cost of revenue, expenses, membership rates and renewals, and how to make large fundraising events profitable. Introduction
Jim Bildner introduced the Q&A in the following context: based on sentiments and thoughts shared at the March 5 convening, the public radio model can be very informative for the grantees in terms of sustainability and monetizing content. NPR is a cooperative and so it is at the station level that there is a real analogy between the grantees and the public radio model.
How do nonprofit local and regional news organizations create new ways to survive and thrive in today’s challenging news landscape? That is a question that brought together 12 nonprofit news organizations and funders, academics and researchers from across the country for an unprecedented meeting convened by the Knight Foundation. Seeking Sustainability: A Nonprofit News Roundtable (PDF)
A meeting sponsored by Knight Foundation and co-hosted by the Texas Tribune, Voice of San Diego and Knight Chair in Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin. The nonprofit model allows organizations to pursue a journalistic mission without the competing demands of operating a for-profit business. Nonprofit news startups have been created in communities across the country, most with funding from major donors or foundations.
Video: Buzz Woolley, Chairman of the Board of voiceofsandiego.org discusses entrepreneurialism and the venture mindset for nonprofit journalism organizations in this video at a special roundtable called “Seeking Sustainability,” held at The University of Texas at Austin sponsored by the Knight Foundation and co-hosted by the Texas Tribune, Voice of San Diego, and Knight Chair in Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin in April 2010. Seeking Sustainability: Presentation on entrepreneurialism and venture mindset from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.
Scott Lewis, CEO of voiceofsandiego.org discusses the issue of sustainability and nonprofit journalism organizations in this video at a special roundtable called “Seeking Sustainability,” held at The University of Texas at Austin sponsored by the Knight Foundation and co-hosted by the Texas Tribune, Voice of San Diego, and Knight Chair in Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin in April 2010. Seeking Sustainability: Presentation on engagement and community-building from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.
2010: The Year of the Sustainability Push
With our worldwide fame as a startup, I’ve been asked nothing more often than whether or not we were sustainable. For a while this question frustrated me. Did they expect me to say “no?” It wasn’t surprising that most of these type of questions came from academics. It seemed as though sustainability to them was guarantees, like professor tenure, that our employees would have jobs well into the future. When I asked them what sustainable was, they couldn’t answer.
1. Apply for a Federal Employer Tax ID # (EIN). This can be done online at www.irs.gov. Applicants can call the IRS at 800-829-4933 and complete the application with the help of an IRS agent and receive the EIN immediately; or the application can be completed online at https://sa1.www4.irs.gov/modiein/individual/index.jsp
2. Apply for a State Employer Tax ID number by contacting its state Employment Development Department. 3. Create and file with its state, Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws (see Exhibit A). 4. Complete IRS Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption (see Exhibit B attached). This application needs to be dated and signed by an officer of the corporation, generally the president or treasurer. Attach a conformed copy of the Articles of Incorporation, approved and dated by the state, and a copy of the Bylaws to Form 1023. New company needs to estimate revenues and expenses in the form of a summary budget for the current year and next 2 years. The information is entered on Part IV of the form, under Financial Data. 5. Complete IRS Form 8718, User Fee for Exempt Organization Determination Letter Request. Attach a check payable to “United States Treasury”; current filing fee is $750 (see Exhibit C). 6. Complete IRS Form 872-C, Consent Fixing Period of Limitation. This is dated and signed by an officer of the corporation, generally the president or treasurer.