Illustration by Leon Postma

The Correspondent raises $1.8M in runway funding and teams up with Blue State Digital

One year ago, we shared our big plans for a global edition of De Correspondent. Today we’re proud to announce two key partnerships for making The Correspondent in English a reality.

Omidyar Network is granting The Correspondent $950,000 in runway funding, bringing our total funding to $1.8 million. And Blue State Digital — the agency behind both of Obama’s digital campaigns for president — will team up with our creative partner Momkai to build our global campaign.

Just to be clear: The Correspondent will be funded by members

Like its Dutch counterpart, The Correspondent will be made possible by future members. But to find those members, we also need money up front.

Our Dutch publication, De Correspondent, launched in 2013 with a world record-breaking crowdfunding campaign, which raised $1.7 million from some 19,000 backers. We now have 60,000 paying members and we don’t take ad dollars of any kind.
Thanks to our membership model, 85% of our revenue comes directly from readers, and we like it that way. It puts our most important stakeholders — our readers — squarely at the heart of the operation.

This early funding will allow us to put together a top-notch campaign team from our US base in New York and run a worldwide membership campaign within the year.

And the Omidyar Network and Blue State Digital will help us do that.


Omidyar Network grants The Correspondent close to a million dollars in runway funding

Omidyar Network is helping bring our dream of The Correspondent one giant step closer!

We’re pleased to announce that the philanthropic investment firm has awarded us $950,000 in runway funding. This contribution will allow us to set up a global membership campaign and hit the ground running soon after.

Director Nishant Lalwani — photo: Omidyar Network

Omidyar Network works to advance a strong and independent media, and funds innovative organizations working to provide people with the tools they need to serve the public interest and hold leaders to account. We’re honored that the people from Omidyar Network back The Correspondent’s vision for journalism, and we’re grateful for the trust they’ve put in us to make this happen.

Here’s Nishant Lalwani, Director of Independent Media at Omidyar Network’s Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative, on why they’re investing in The Correspondent:

We believe that The Correspondent represents a pioneering and powerful model of independent journalism. Their membership-focused approach strives to deliver the things that really matter: reader trust, diversity in the newsroom, and data privacy for their users. De Correspondent, their Dutch counterpart, has shown that it’s possible to build deep trust and meaningful relationships with their audience through an ad-free, financially sustainable media platform. We are confident The Correspondent can do the same, and are thrilled to support them as they prepare for their membership campaign.

We’ve now raised a total of $1.8 million in runway funding for The Correspondent. Earlier, we shared news of support from the Democracy and Media Foundation and Craig Newmark Philanthropies. This money will go towards a range of things, including building our own membership tool, hiring the first editorial staff, setting up a US campaign office, and creating promotional videos and other campaign materials.

We still have a modest funding gap left to close before we have the total we need to launch an effective global campaign.

If you’re interested in helping out with this last piece of our funding puzzle, please ping me at ej@thecorrespondent.com.


Blue State Digital partners with The Correspondent for our global campaign

We’re excited to be joining forces with Blue State Digital, whose experience building grassroots movements and helping mission-driven organizations operate at scale will be of tremendous value as we develop our membership campaign.

Blue State Digital New York and London

We want anyone who’s fed up with the daily news grind — and looking beyond the outrage of the hour — to share insight into how this world of ours works. And how it could work better. Those principles will be basic to The Correspondent’s way of doing journalism. Writers work with readers who know things the writers don’t, or see things the writers can’t.

In addition to their work with campaigns, Blue State has done plenty of other things to get excited about.

They revamped Vogue, helping transform subscribers into advocates; designed a future-proof brand for The Engine, the MIT incubator taking on some of our toughest scientific challenges; turned one of the “oldest and boldest” civil rights organizations, the NAACP, into an online force to be reckoned with. And perhaps my favorite: the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities project, where BSD devised technologies to start conversations and forge connections across geographic divides, to connect cities facing similar issues across the globe.

With Blue State Digital on our team, we’re confident we can meet the enormous challenge ahead: finding and connecting future members of The Correspondent, wherever you may be.


Hometown partner Momkai completes the team

For the global campaign, Blue State Digital will team up with the Amsterdam design studio Momkai, who’s been with us from the start. In fact without Momkai, there would be no De Correspondent.

Creative director Harald Dunnink — photo: RVDA

Cofounders Harald Dunnink and Sebastian Kersten are the creative minds behind our successful Dutch crowdfunding campaign in 2013. And when we raised $1.7 million that year from nearly 19,000 backers, it was the Momkai team that designed and built our Dutch platform. We’ve counted on them to help refine it ever since, making De Correspondent the leading platform for member-supported journalism it is today.

Harald’s commitment to “cultivating calm” online has transformed the experience of reading the news. The Momkai team has ensured that members of our Dutch platform can focus on what they choose to read or listen to or talk about, without further demands on their attention. At De Correspondent, “only the content itself will drive you to distraction.”

Momkai’s principled approach to design — design that serves readers — dovetails with our mission to be a news outlet optimized for trust.

We’re proud to have our longstanding creative partner on board for the global campaign. This time around, Momkai will work side by side with Blue State Digital in an effort to bring our form of journalism to the US and beyond. Can’t wait to see what Momkai and Blue State Digital can create together!


Want to get in on this thing?

Great! Sign up for updates at thecorrespondent.com or drop me a line at ej@thecorrespondent.com and I’ll add you to our newsletter list. We’ll keep you posted on our progress and what you can do to help.

To find out more about our new partnerships and plans, head over to the Columbia Journalism Review for a report by Mathew Ingram.