Michele's List
Building blocks in the emerging local news ecosystem

INN Index, a deep dive into nonprofit news

I recently co-authored INN Index: The state of nonprofit news, an indepth look at the field based on a survey of 88 member publications of the Institute for Nonprofit News. My co-author is Jesse Holcomb, formerly of Pew and now teaching at Calvin College in Michigan, with a big assist from INN CEO Sue Cross.

The study, funded primarily by the Democracy Fund, found nonprofit news is a growing field and nonprofit organizations are making a journalistic mark while their finances are stabilizing. 

Among the findings: 

  • Nonprofits focus on deep coverage of important civic issues
  • The revenue terrain is improving and stabilizing as publications develop multiple revenue streams.
  • Age matters. The field is young; typical site is 8 years old. Older organizations tend to have more revenue and greater reach.
  • These are lean operations that invest heavily in editorial.
  • Audience development is a significant challenge.

We recommended that publishers focus on developing large and small donations, including membership programs; invest more resources in revenue development; and adopt more sophisticated audience targeting strategies.

You can read the full report here.