Kip Dooley
Oct 1 · 5 min read

In 2016, 54 news organizations participated in the first NewsMatch campaign, a swiftly organized matching gift campaign created by Knight Foundation in response to a burst of grassroots support for nonprofit news.

ProPublica’s Electionland is a collaboration between newsrooms from across the country that covers voter access and election security (Erin Lefevre)

That burst of support has become an upswell. On Nov. 1, NewsMatch 2019 will kickoff with nearly 200 participants, representing nearly every state in the country. As the number of participants and the number of partners — including new donors to the national match fund and even more local funders — continues to grow, the impact of the campaign gets even bigger.

Funders in 2019 include Knight Foundation, Democracy Fund, Facebook Journalism Project, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, and Present Progressive Fund at Schwab Charitable. They are joined by first-time supporters Natasha and Dirk Ziff and REI Co-op, while the Gates Family Foundation is partnering with NewsMatch to support newsrooms through the Colorado Media Project.

In three years, NewsMatch has helped newsrooms in nearly every state in the U.S. to raise $14.8 million and attract nearly 100,000 new donors to nonprofit news.

Along the way, it has helped to strengthen long-standing organizations and jumpstart small, emerging newsrooms. This year, 49 newsrooms will be participating in NewsMatch for the first time. The support and coaching they receive from the NewsMatch team, from our partners at INN and News Revenue Hub, and from their peers plays a big role in their ability to make their first campaign a success.


“I’m learning on the job, so seeing how much help NewsMatch has already built out for members was very reassuring to me,” said Russ Walker, executive editor at first-time NewsMatch participant PA Post.

As a longtime journalist, Walker has no problem producing news stories. But in his new role as executive editor, he has had to learn a whole new skillset: fundraising.

Reporter Laurel Rosenhall of CalMatters, which has filled gaps in California statehouse coverage in the wake of commercial media closings (Robbie Short, Priyanka Sharma)

Along with dozens of other news leaders, he’s getting up to speed through NewsMatch. A few weeks ago at the Online News Association conference in New Orleans, Walker and other newsroom leaders learned how NewsMatch 2019 helps nonprofit newsrooms build fundraising capacity and access a pool of matching funds to bring in even more dollars. Leading up to the campaign, NewsMatch offers participating newsrooms digital campaign assets, weekly webinars with fundraising experts at the News Revenue Hub, and on-demand technical support through INN Labs.

Knight Foundation Vice President of Journalism Jennifer Preston welcomed the participating newsrooms at the ONA lunch, before the NewsMatch communications team introduced this year’s campaign theme, “This News Can’t Wait,” along with samples of digital ad materials and messaging that participants will customize for their own communities.

The new theme — the first update of the core campaign message in two years — was developed through in-depth interviews and message testing with dozens of newsrooms and funding partners. What participants wanted to see was a message that felt urgent and reflected the impact that local news and investigative journalism can have on a community.

The resulting campaign toolkit that every NewsMatch newsroom can use includes example slogans for different kinds of newsrooms, such as “The globe is heating up, but who’s putting heat on the problem? This news can’t wait,” for environmental outlets, and “A major election is months away. Who will get the truth behind the talking points? This news can’t wait,” for local newsrooms that cover politics and government.

“Every American needs to know that supporting their local, regional, state, and vertical nonprofit news outlets is an opportunity and an investment in informed communities,” said Marcia Parker, publisher of CalMatters, now entering its third NewsMatch.

Being part of NewsMatch’s national campaign helps individual newsrooms communicate their mission as part of a wider movement. At the same time, the campaign toolkit is designed to be flexible enough to meet specific needs and goals of a wide range of organizations, from small newsrooms with little experience fundraising, to large ones with with sophisticated operations. For example, CalMatters plans to target new donors this year with off-shoot campaigns to garner support for individual verticals that focus on specific topics.

Following the presentation at ONA, first-time and returning NewsMatch participants huddled in small groups. At one table, Russ Walker of PA Post talked with Kate Gannon from Borderzine, an outlet from El Paso, Texas, heading into its second NewsMatch. PA Post is housed within WITF public radio, but reports on statewide issues that go well beyond the station’s reach.

“As PA Post enters its second year, it’s time for us to define what we offer that’s unique,” said Walker.

Gannon explained how Borderzine, which covers borderland issues and trains student journalists at the University of Texas, El Paso, used NewsMatch materials to build a customized campaign that brought in many first-time donors last year. In addition to sharing spreadsheets and sample emails with Walker, she also emphasized the need to devote time and energy to the campaign.

“I needed to hear it,” said Walker. “She was very emphatic that this was not something you can devote only a little time to. To make it effective, you have to do your homework in advance, and commit the time in the two months to push out a message to your potential donors.”


NewsMatch 2019 starts on November 1 and runs through December 31. Give to a participating newsroom during the campaign, and up to $1,000 of your donation will be matched by our funders.

Donors can easily find and support trusted reporting in their community and on issues they care about at NewsMatch.org.

NewsMatch

This news can’t wait.

Kip Dooley

Written by

NewsMatch

NewsMatch

NewsMatch

This news can’t wait.

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