The Role and Limits of Grants

News nonprofits around the country, especially the recent startups, have been working to diversify their revenue streams. The INN Index in 2020 found for the first time a majority of nonprofit news outlets reported that foundation funding made up less than half of their total annual revenue the prior year. Nonprofits still get most of their revenue from philanthropy, but are tapping more into individual giving.

Age and type of organization correlate to different mixes of revenue streams as
organizations refine models that match their missions and their communities.
Older organizations often have a higher share of foundation funding; local and state organizations generate more revenue from individual donations. This pattern may reflect the concentration of foundation funding in a few national news operations, which was one finding of a 2018 report by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center and Northeastern University professors.

Developing revenue streams from multiple sources is critical to the stability of an organization, so that the loss of one stream is not catastrophic, as it would be if only one or two sources were available.