Finding a Foothold

How nonprofit new ventures seek sustainanbility

The report explores how 18 organizations raise and spend money and the role that reach and engagement play in their efforts to connect with audiences and derive revenue from those connections.

Organizations that participated in the study fall into three broad categories: Some focus primarily on local city or town news, some on statewide reporting and others on investigative projects at the regional or national level.

The report is organized into three sections that reflect areas considered essential to sustainability:

  • Social value creation – The ability to create unique and relevant content, and to attract, understand and engage audiences in ways that produce measurable impact.

  • Economic value creation – The ability to grow multiple revenue streams to support the mission of creating content, engagement and impact.

  • Organizational capacity – The infrastructure, resource allocation and skills that enable an organization to adapt and innovate as it creates social and economic value.

Data and analysis in these areas builds on a review that Knight Foundation produced two years ago, Getting Local: How Nonprofit News Ventures Seek Sustainability, which examined eight local news startups. Two years later, the 18 organizations in this study demonstrate significant progress, but they still face some challenges. As such, the report provides a benchmark for nonprofit news organizations and funders to develop new strategies and models for future growth.