Weekly news for nonprofit news leaders and supporters

Major Gifts Coaching: Modest investment builds major return

In 2018, individuals contributed nearly 70 percent of U.S. nonprofits’ charitable donations, according to GivingUSA — and most of that came from major gifts. However, the 2019 INN Index found that individuals contribute nearly 40 percent of all the revenue going to news nonprofits. With support from the Park Foundation, INN launched the Major Gifts Coaching Program pilot with 10 nonprofit newsrooms to test how to meaningfully increase the share of major donor revenue for nonprofit news. 

The results of the 2018 program, which trained the cohort on strategies for fundraising campaigns targeted at major donors — defined as those who give $5,000 or more — were significant. All participating organizations achieved increased major donor funding, with increases ranging from 9 percent to 367 percent, leading INN to create a second cohort this spring.

The Major Gifts Coaching Program pilot saw significant growth in major giving. The process and findings are detailed in the new major gifts case study.

Some key findings from the "Major Gifts Coaching: Modest Investments Generate Major Return," based on the major gifts pilot: 
  • Nonprofits should make major giving programs part of their start-up planning. Once launched, leaders need to allocate consistent time for weekly and monthly donor outreach.
  • With the right messaging and focus, nonprofits can transition existing small donors to major, sustaining long-term commitments.
  • Role-playing conversations between nonprofit leaders and potential donors are a surprisingly effective preparatory tool.
INN will launch another cohort in early 2020 as part of INN’s comprehensive strategic initiative to build a major gifts resource center for nonprofit news. Newsrooms can fill out this form to be considered for the next cohort.

NewsMatch 2019 will match up to $20,000 in donations

This year's NewsMatch fundraising cap is $20,000. This amount balances the growing number of NewsMatch participants with a meaningful match for everyone and additional bonuses for small and medium newsrooms. More updates on the upcoming giving season can be found in the NewsMatch email update.

Neiman Lab features Midwest collaboration on rural hospitals

"When multiple newspapers in Iowa write about this issue, all of a sudden it starts becoming an Iowan issue that Iowans have to solve. And if news organizations in seven states write about it, now it’s a Midwest problem that the Midwest has to solve. And by the time you’re talking about a major region of the nation like that, it becomes a national problem to be solved.” — Lyle Muller, former executive director and editor of Iowa Watch.

What started as a great idea from one journalist turned into a series from 12 outlets across seven states. Christine Schmidt of Nieman Lab wrote about the rural hospital collaboration, published last week, and captured the spirit of the project — higher visibility. “We view collaboration as a way to help our newsrooms increase the heft and power of their journalism,”said INN's Jonathan Kealing. 

Upcoming opportunities for INN members


From INN & members: 

Early-bird registration for gun violence reporting conference

The inaugural Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit will focus on coverage of community gun violence and take place at WHYY in Philadelphia on Nov. 8. Join leading experts from: The Trace, Guns & America, The National Network for Safe Communities, The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, The Coalition of Trauma Centers for Firearm Injury Prevention and WHYY News to inform best practices on gun violence reporting. Early-bird registration ends today, Oct. 8

Facebook webinar for News Page Index registration

For audience/digital folks: This on-demand webinar from Facebook will walk individuals through all the requirements for News Page Index registration. It also prompts viewers to complete Business Verification, which has been a hurdle for LION and INN members who found themselves unable to boost ads or access features they had before after registering. For folks experiencing problems, this webinar may help. Additional changes to Facebook's process to better accommodate INN members are still pending.

Patch webinar now available on-demand

We now have a chance for any INN member to publish their journalism on sites across Patch's local news network — and receive a small fee for each page view generated on the site. Learn more about the partnership through this webinar and email Jonathan Kealing, INN's chief network officer, to join. 

Upcoming webinar for ProPublica's Collaborate tool

Learn about Collaborate, ProPublica’s new tool for managing crowdsourced and collaborative data projects, which is based on an in-house tool they created for the Electionland and Documenting Hate projects. Find out how to use the tool and how it can be helpful to your newsroom on Oct. 16.

INN Labs Tech Support for NewsMatch 2019 Participants

Thanks to generous funding from the Knight Foundation, INN Labs will help participants improve their website donation flows, learn how to use existing tools to optimize campaigns and add important NewsMatch messaging and media to their sites.

> Interested in technical help from INN Labs? Sign up for a 1:1 meeting. 

From our friends outside of INN:


Online course for data journalists

The Knight Center's new online course, "Data Journalism and Visualization with Free Tools," starts Oct. 14. During this six-week course, which is powered by Google News Initiative, you'll learn about an array of free tools that can help improve your work in data journalism and visualization. By the end of the course, you will have learned how to find and get data, prepare data, find stories in data, visualize data and more. Register here.

Peer review opportunity for data journalism

OpenNews launched a peer-review program that connects people in smaller newsrooms with fellow journalists who can help them think through a data project. Participation is free and designed for data journalists on small teams, from local or regional newsrooms, and from underrepresented backgrounds in journalism. Applications will be open through Oct. 16


Have an opportunity to share with INN members? Email

In Case You Missed It

  • A new analysis finds that audience engagement and newsroom transparency tools and services, including Hearken, GroundSource, and the Coral Project’s “Talk," work — if newsrooms use them.
    Lensfest Institute
  • McClatchy is turning to issues-based reporting through their newly-established Education Lab, aided by community nonprofits.
  • News consumers who understand the journalistic process are better equipped to detect misinformation online, a new study shows.
    Columbia Journalism Review
  • Nearly 200 nonprofit newsrooms are participating in the NewsMatch fundraising campaign this year.
  • After the 2016 election, it's no secret that there's bias in polling. So how does the impeachment story affect public opinion polling? 

From INN Members

A sampling of the best nonprofit journalism from INN members each week:

Damned from the start: Many U.S. reservoirs could be rendered useless — and that was part of the plan
H20 Radio

How China’s high-tech ‘eyes’ monitor behavior and dissent
PBS NewsHour / Pulitzer Center

Congress expanding investigation into San Diego VA liver study

The students disappearing fastest from American campuses? Middle-class ones
The Hechinger Report

Trusting & Believing: Despite our divisive times, Mainers see trust, respect and community binding us together
Pine Tree Watch

Membership News

Celebrating member achievements — Congratulations:

To the Center for Public Integrity for launching a new inequality team.

To Texas Observer, which will add veteran investigative journalist Lise Olsen and former Texas Monthly and current FRONTLINE digital editor Abby Johnston to its growing editorial staff. Olsen is joining the Observer as senior writer and editor. Johnston will become the magazine’s first executive editor. 

To Block Club Chicago, Chicago Reporter, Better Government Association, ProPublica Illinois, Injustice Watch and City Bureau, which were all featured in Columbia Journalism Review's "Chicago is America’s news lab" article.

To David Armstrong, the executive editor of the Georgia News Lab and the new executive director of the Center for Sustainable Journalism. Georgia News Lab, Youth Today and Juvenile Justice Information Exchange will all be under the umbrella of the Center for Sustainable Journalism.

Member Impact:

  • Wausau, Wisconsin city officials will seek a new developer to transform a property on Wausau’s riverfront, after a Wausau Pilot and Review report revealed the food truck owner who sought city assistance to help fund a restaurant at the location was arrested for shoplifting vegetables and other items from a Rib Mountain store.
Do you have news to share or want to submit a profile of your nonprofit news organization? Tell us at

INN Events

Job Listings

Major Gifts Program Director  
Institute for Nonprofit News

Business Reporter
Bridge Magazine

PR & Marketing Associate
ProPublica Illinois

Digital Engagement Editor
PBS NewsHour

Social Media Fellowship

Investigative Reporter
Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

Have a job you want to promote?  Post it to our industry job board.

Contact INN

INN, Nonprofit News Strategies
Sue Cross | Email | @suecross

Mara Jezior | Email | @marajezior

Learning + Training
Fran Scarlett | Email

Services & Collaboration
Jonathan Kealing | Email | @JKealing
Fiscal Sponsorship, Business Services
Chip Potts | Email

Kay Lima | Email | @kayleen_lima

Larry Horne | Email

Copyright © 2019 Institute for Nonprofit News, All rights reserved.

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