This study – published in partnership with FSG and Network Impact – provides a behind-the-scenes look at four foundations. We asked: Why are they working in media? How does that connect to their overall goals? How did they go about doing it? Has it mattered?

Addressing a community’s information needs is a critical aspect of supporting a vibrant and healthy democracy. As community and place-based foundations increase their participation in this work, they realize they cannot do it alone. Partnerships are vital to their success.

The Community Information Toolkit will help community leaders like you to harness the power of information to advance your goals for a better community. It will help you define and address your key community information challenges, while also positioning your organization as a central convener in your community. And by “your community” we mean the community as you define and experience it — by geography, population, issue or a blend of these.

Successful news organizations – even the nonprofit ones – have to act like digital businesses, making revenue experimentation, entrepreneurship and community engagement important pieces of the mix. Understanding how to create social and economic value and how to adapt and innovate are just as important as good content.

Community and place-based foundations – uniquely positioned to be community leaders – used all of the assets at their disposal, including information and media, to engage in issues, thereby transforming their organizations to become more effective leaders and agents for community change.

How can funders get started both thinking about and actually investing in news and information projects? A new publication by Michele McLellan and Eric Newton – and published by William Penn Foundation and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation – offers tips.

In this second annual publication of Reports from the Field, published by Knight Foundation and FSG, we share with you what we’re learning about how communities are becoming more informed and engaged and what roles community and place-based foundations are playing in advancing this effort.

Case studies identified common benefits for foundations supporting information projects including: Amplified local and national prominence; new insights into existing program areas; and enhanced institutional skills and digital media capacity.

This brief explores how, through the Knight Community Information Challenge, community and place-based foundations are incorporating community information needs into their work for the benefit both of their communities and their own strategies and missions.