NewsMatch, a national campaign that doubles donations made to member organizations of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), is both a critical campaign at a crucial moment for U.S. journalism and an effective philanthropic program, an evaluation conducted by Third Plateau finds.
Launched by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, in partnership with the Miami Foundation, INN, and News Revenue Hub, NewsMatch has helped local nonprofit newsrooms raise more than $15.8 million since 2016. According to the NewsMatch 2018 Learning Report (19 pages, PDF), during the last NewsMatch campaign, in November/December, more than 240,000 people donated to participating nonprofit news outlets — including forty-nine new organizations — 52,000 of them first-time donors, up from 43,000 first-time donors in 2017.
In 2018, NewsMatch shortened the campaign period from three months to two, which, according to the report, allowed for more training and preparation time while creating a sense of urgency; provided bonuses to small and midsize organizations with budgets of $2 million or less that succeeded in boosting their fundraising capacity; and incentivized monthly giving by matching recurring donations for a full year. As a result, participating organizations in 2018 saw an 11 percent year-over-year growth in donations, while small and midsize newsrooms saw increases of more than 30 percent in the number of individual donors, the number of donations, and dollars raised.
The campaign also provides a unique platform for foundations, corporations, and major donors looking to support nonprofit journalism, and in 2018 it managed to grow its national matching fund by 116 percent, to $3.7 million. In addition to the Knight Foundation, support for NewsMatch 2018 was provided by the Colorado Media Project, the Democracy Fund, the Facebook Journalism Project, the Present Progressive Fund at Schwab Charitable, and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, Jonathan Logan Family, Rita Allen, and Wyncote foundations.
"The successes NewsMatch has achieved are stunning, but the challenges we face are large and often humbling," the report's authors conclude. "NewsMatch is only one piece of how funders and the public will continue to support a bold and sustainable future for local news and investigative reporting. It must work in concert with other funding strategies and support options — including major donor development, new products and services, and expanding community engagement."
(Photo credit: NewsMatch)