NewsMatch 2018 Learning Report

 NewsMatch is a national matching-gift campaign to grow fundraising capacity in nonprofit newsrooms and promote giving to journalism among U.S. donors. On May 14, 2019, NewsMatch released its annual learning report, which documents how the campaign meets three interlocking goals: Raising awareness about the role of journalism in our society, expanding community support and funding for news, and strengthening newsrooms’ long-term fundraising capacity. Read this blog post to learn more.

Over the last three years NewsMatch has left an indelible imprint on the field of nonprofit news, helping jumpstart new local newsrooms and strengthening long-standing investigative reporting organizations. It couldn’t be happening at a more important moment for American journalism, which continues to face political threats, commercial crisis, and technological change. No single effort alone can respond to all these challenges, but a new evaluation of the NewsMatch campaign shows how it is making a dent.

NewsMatch is a nationwide campaign focused on three interlocking goals: Driving more donations to nonprofit journalism, strengthening nonprofit newsrooms’ fundraising capacity, and promoting the role of nonprofit news in America. Now entering its fourth year, NewsMatch continues to be one of the most successful efforts to support nonprofit news at scale.

Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018, the campaign helped 154 nonprofit news organizations across the country raise more than $7.6 million in unrestricted funding, which is being invested in more and better journalism, crucial general operating support, and improved fundraising capabilities. Since 2016, NewsMatch has helped nonprofit newsrooms raise more than $15.8 million.

The public is noticing. In two months — November and December of 2018 — over 240,000 people gave to news organizations, and 52,000 were new donors supporting a nonprofit news organization for the first time. The year before, in 2017, 43,000 new donors gave for the first time during NewsMatch, for a two-year total of 95,000 new donors.

Through NewsMatch, nonprofit news organizations are also getting more successful at year-end fundraising. In a year when nonprofits overall only saw 1.5 percent year-over-year growth in individual donations, the average NewsMatch participant raised 11 percent more during the campaign in 2018 vs 2017. Small and medium newsrooms saw the biggest growth in year-end support, with 30+ percent increases in individual donors, donations, and dollars raised during NewsMatch.

Finally, NewsMatch has become a unique new on-ramp for foundations, corporations and major donors who want to support journalism in America. In 2018, new foundations joined NewsMatch, contributing to the national fund and setting up additional matches to support specific newsrooms by topic and geography. The Facebook Journalism Project donated $1 million, and participating news organizations directly secured more than $675,000 in additional matching commitments from major donors and foundations as part of the campaign. NewsMatch is a proven model for foundations and donors who want to pool their resources for greater impact.

Each year NewsMatch shares what it is learning and how it is adapting the program to meet the needs of the current moment. For the third consecutive year, Third Plateau conducted a summative evaluation of the NewsMatch effort, using a mixed-methods research process that included review of pre- and post-match financial data from participating organizations, evaluative notes collected before and during the campaign, a post-match survey of participants about the NewsMatch experience, and confidential phone interviews with participating organizations and NewsMatch partners and funders. This public learnings report is informed by Third Plateau’s evaluation and excerpts key sections (which are marked throughout.)

The conclusion drawn from the evaluation is that NewsMatch is a critical campaign at a crucial moment for U.S. journalism, and it is a particularly effective philanthropic program. As the challenges that face commercial media accelerate, NewsMatch continues to grow, driving more dollars to more newsrooms in more places around the country. We expect the number of participating news organizations to increase, as the Institute for Nonprofit News now counts more than 200 organizations among its membership. In 2019, we are sharing this learning report to reflect not only what the NewsMatch team is learning about but also what nonprofit news organizations are sharing with us about their fundraising needs and opportunities, and what funders, philanthropists, field-building organizations and leaders in communities across the country can do to ensure a strong, sustainable future for news.