News and analysis
April 08, 2015

Nonprofit News Outlets Remain Dependent on Grant Makers, Study Says

Nonprofit news organizations still rely on foundation grants for the bulk of their support years after they published their first stories, according to a study released Wednesday by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The median revenue at 20 nonprofit news outlets was slightly more than $518,000 in 2013, a 7-percent increase over the previous year, according to the study.

The 20 news sites, many of which received support from the Knight foundation, relied on grant makers for 58 percent of their revenue, the study found. So-called earned income from advertising, events, sponsorships, training and subscriptions made up 23 percent of the news organizations’ revenue in 2013, an increase of five percentage points over 2011.

Sites that began operations in 2009 or later received 75 percent of their revenue from grant makers. Foundation support dropped to 41 percent of revenue for news sites that had been around more than seven years but still represented the highest category of revenue — more than individual donations, membership fees, and earned income.

"These sites are beholden to philanthropic revenue now, but they’re showing incremental progress," said Jon Sotsky, director of strategy and assessment at the Knight Foundation.

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