In its fourth consecutive year, NewsMatch 2019 continued to seek to strengthen the sustainability of the nonprofit news sector by building capacity in nonprofit newsrooms, spreading awareness of the importance of investing in journalism among the general public, and directly and indirectly investing millions of dollars into the field of nonprofit journalism.
Overall, this evaluation concludes that NewsMatch is an invaluable program for the nonprofit news field. The NewsMatch team implemented the 2019 program activities as planned very effectively. Based on the findings of this evaluation, the Third Plateau team concluded that this program is important and it is in good hands.
Through bringing additional funders to the National Match Fund, the NewsMatch program has steadily increased the money coming to nonprofit journalism from national philanthropy over the past four years. The participant pool has grown since the program’s inception, and three and a half times as many organizations participated in 2019 as did in 2016. This year in particular was marked by a large increase in local matches, however given the decrease in local matches in 2018, the overall change actually nears the growth in participants.
The goals for this year’s NewsMatch were to: (1) Dramatically increase giving to journalism right now; (2) Strengthen long term fundraising capacity in newsrooms; and (3) Build awareness about journalism’s impact in our democracy. The evaluation findings provided ample evidence that the 2019 NewsMatch program met Goal 1, with mixed findings and insufficient data to draw clear conclusions on Goal 2 and 3, as summarized in the Key Findings and Conclusions section.
This year’s evaluation approached NewsMatch with greater rigor than in previous years, implementing for the first time a theory-based evaluation that deeply explored and tested the design of the program and its intended outcomes.
The following key findings were supportive of the program design and outcomes:
- Participants were extremely successful in securing local matches this year. Participants raised $1,443,894 from local matches, representing a 113% increase from 2018, and the largest amount raised from local matches since the program began.
- Returning NewsMatch organizations secured statistically significantly more donors and donations in the 2019 campaign than they did in the 2018 campaign.
- 61% of participants experimented or tried new fundraising strategies and tactics in their end-of-year fundraising, several of which aligned to tactics promoted by the NewsMatch program such as Giving Tuesday/Newsday, local matches, and match multipliers.
- Participants are using the materials NewsMatch provides. 87% reported they used the Campaign Toolkit, and 75% used the Promotional Toolkit. 90% found the Campaign Toolkit somewhat or very helpful, and 79% the same of the Promotional Toolkit.
- Within an unrepresentative sample of participants, overall financial health between 2013 and 2017 looked to be for the most part, strong, and trending upward.