While it didn’t find one magic solution, a new study did show that nonprofit media are most likely to remain strong if they use certain strategies: things like seeking funding from diverse sources, engaging in in-person networking, and training board leaders to fundraise better.
The study, stemming from a seven-year experiment by the Challenge Fund for Journalism, involved donating $3.6 million in matching grants and coaching services to 53 nonprofit media companies—including CJR—to see if the diverse group would discover new revenue streams.
Participants did find new streams, with help from the matching grant guarantee, and CFJ found that those new sources were most likely to continue if organizations kept their donor lists up to date and made fundraising a a daily task, rather than betting entirely on an annual gala. Funding also stayed stronger for companies producing a quality product with a well-organized business model. In other words, organizations that have their ducks in a row are best able to be, in a word used repeatedly in the report, “nimble,” in a fluctuating economy and shifting media environment.
CFJ’s funding was a collaboration with the Ford, Knight, McCormick, and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundations. Check out the whole report here [PDF].