Mother Jones: Innovations and Lessons Learned

With its $35,000 award from the INNovation Fund, Mother Jones set out to develop best practices for how fellow nonprofit publishers may best utilize Facebook Instant Articles for editorial uses and membership growth and fundraising. Responses provided by Brian Hiatt have been edited and condensed. What was your organization trying to achieve? Facebook referrals accounted for 45 percent of Mother Jones’ total online traffic, and Facebook sharing had helped us reach many readers who previously would not have seen our content. But slow article load times, especially on mobile devices, presented a major problem.

Arizona State University/Cronkite News: Innovations and Lessons Learned

With its $10,000 award from the INNovation Fund, Arizona State University and Cronkite News set out to test and analyze which types of audiences are most likely to contribute to student media and state news services and whether crowdfunding is a viable ongoing revenue source for student-based media. Responses have been edited and condensed. What was your organization trying to achieve? First, we wanted to raise money to expand coverage of an undercovered and often misunderstood region — the U.S.-Mexico border — that was central to much of the political rhetoric this past election season. Second and perhaps equally important, we wanted to see whether crowdfunding could be a viable path for supporting journalism school projects in the Cronkite School’s teaching-hospital model.

The Lens: Innovations and Lessons Learned

With its $7,500 award from the INNovation Fund, The Lens developed The Speakers Bureau to connect the local community face-to-face with Lens reporters and editors, explaining how and why they report the news. Responses provided by Karen Gadbois. What was your organization trying to achieve? We wanted to monetize a service that we had been providing to the community for free. The Lens has been demonstrating its commitment to our audience by introducing our reporters to the public.

Carolina Public Press INNovation Success Story

With its $25,000 award from the INNovation Fund, Carolina Public Press set out to institute a series of face-to-face forums in 18 largely rural counties in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Responses provided by Angie Newsome. What was your organization trying to achieve? In 2014, Carolina Public Press embarked on a concentrated engagement program to meet with its readers, donors, and content-sharing partners across 18 counties of Western North Carolina. One of the largest challenges faced by Carolina Public Press since its inception is finding, growing and keeping its audience — and donors to support it.

NJ Spotlight INNovation Success Story

With its $35,000 award from the INNovation Fund, NJ Spotlight set out to stage a one-day multi-tracked event to convene leaders and citizens to tackle the needs of major New Jersey cities on a multitude of critical civic issues. 

Responses provided by NJ Spotlight CEO John Mooney. Organization Name: NJ Spotlight

Project Title: NJ Spotlight on Cities

Focus: A day-long conference on the challenges and opportunities facing New Jersey cities. What was your organization trying to achieve? We had multiple goals with NJ Spotlight On Cities. First, we wanted to bring more discussion, understanding and exposure to issues faced by New Jersey’s urban areas, especially at a time that cities are seeing an influx of new residents and businesses.

Bitch Media: Turning Readers Into Funders

Could a digital platform designed to deepen the relationship between readers and reporters help nonprofit news outlets solve their funding challenges? Bitch Media put Hearken to the test. Hearken, the audience-engagement tool that invites readers to help shape the news by inviting them to interact with journalists as stories are reported, has developed a reputation for helping media outlets generate higher traffic to their sites and attract younger, more diverse readers. But integrating the tool into existing digital fundraising strategies may also be a promising way for nonprofit media organizations to raise money from readers. That’s what Bitch Media, a nonprofit, independent, feminist media organization, discovered when it deployed the Hearken platform and then studied its readers for a year.

100Reporters INNovation Success Story

Success is often attributed to being being in the right place at the right time. For 100Reporters, capitalizing on its Washington, D.C., location was key to the success of the Investigative Film Festival — the first of its kind. It didn’t hurt that the festival secured the Washington, D.C., premiere of Spotlight, the movie portrayal of the Boston Globe’s investigation of child sex abuse by Catholic priests and 2015 Academy Award Best Picture winner. For 100Reporters, the INNovation Fund award of $35,000 served as seed funding and gave credibility to the project. This money opened doors to other foundations to fully fund a sustainable festival.

Seattle Globalist INNovation Success Story

The Seattle Globalist is an online daily whose purpose is to highlight the connection between global and local news in Greater Seattle. While there continues to be an outcry at the lack of diversity in newsrooms across the country, that cry has been muted at the Globalist whose mission is “To elevate diverse voices through media” — simple and powerful. It’s no surprise that the Globalist used its INNovation grant to build a pipeline of diverse journalists by developing and marketing a community journalism workshop series with two goals: to increase efficiency in the storytelling process and to develop an earned revenue stream. Here’s a quick look at the results: approximately 67 percent of its contributors are people of color; women make up 73 percent of site contributors; and 45 percent are immigrants or first-generation Americans. This type of mission-driven creativity is the purpose behind the the grant, which was funded by the Knight Foundation.

Connecticut Health Investigative Team INNovation Success Story

Connecticut Health Investigative Team chose to hold a health fair with their INNovation Fund grant from Knight Foundation and Democracy Fund. They leveraged a $20,000 grant into $52,000 in additional revenue from sponsors and donors. Additionally, C-HIT saw a 35 percent increase in website users and a 43 percent increase in pageviews during the project timeframe. One of many strategies you’ll find in their story is the use of  targeted marketing. C-HIT wanted to reach minority communities who traditionally under-utilize healthcare resources and were unlikely to become aware of the health fair event through mainstream media.