“Other forms of income,” Pew says, “pale by comparison.” Sponsorships, ads, events, and other income sources were still supplemental at best:

Nearly half of the organizations with at least three streams generated 75% or more of their revenue from just one of those—almost always foundation grants.

Foundations and wealthy individuals are important revenue sources, and will continue to be, one hopes, for a long time. But philanthropy goes up, and it comes down. It is many things, comes in many forms, and has been described in many ways. But it cannot be fairly described as a model for growth.

And, as respondents reported, one of their biggest needs is the time to raise money and create a business model:

When one small nonprofit news organization discussed its ongoing struggle to raise money, the message was simple. “We don’t have time to do this,” it reported. “And we don’t know how.”

Fair enough. That’s not uncommon in nonprofit news, and we’re not strangers to the problem here.

But the question at this point is, nonprofits’ confidence notwithstanding, where does the growth come from?

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.

Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014). Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.