Nonprofit news organizations can’t live on well-reported articles and foundation support forever, says a new report by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The report, “Getting Local,” explores the local news operations of eight nonprofit groups, including MinnPost in Minnesota, the St. Louis Beacon, The Texas Tribune, and others. One, the Chi-Town Daily News, closed during the study.
None have developed a clear model for sustaining their operations independently, the study found, and each depends heavily on donations and grants. In 2010 more than 90 percent of the organizations’ revenue came from donations, including 57 percent from foundation support and 34 percent from individuals.
As they mature, these organizations need to find ways to move away from foundation and private support and evolve into self-sustaining news-media companies. To do that, they need to improve their management capacity, prove their value to audiences, and produce revenue, the report says. That means experimenting with new storytelling tools and raising money through events or membership drives.
Go deeper: Nonprofit news groups face another hurdle: getting charity status, The Chronicle reported Thursday.