How-to guides on fundraising
It’s not enough to simply have a great idea or great reporting. You need a team, you need travel, and you need support -- and, increasingly, that means you need fundraising. Whether you run a nonprofit, produce documentaries and podcasts, or are a freelancer, knowing how to fundraise is a survival skill for investigative journalists. In this video, the Global Investigative Journalism Network has brought together groundbreaking media donors from Australia, Europe, India, and the US to tell you what they’re looking for and how to navigate the sometimes arcane world of grants and donations.
The unexpected onset of the pandemic in early 2020 sent nonprofit organizations everywhere into crisis mode. Economic challenges forced fundraisers to press pause on many of their campaigns and launch new ones to adjust to their new realities and meet the needs of the moment.
At the Lenfest News Philanthropy Summit, Theresa Leinker, senior consultant at Schultz and Williams and director of ElevateNP, discussed the fundraising lessons learned during the pandemic and how organizations that rely on philanthropic giving can better prepare for and navigate crises. Here are some of the main takeaways:
- Messaging is critical during crisis. For more on messaging, check out the recording of the Summit session on ethical storytelling for strategies on how to successfully tell your story while respecting the autonomy of your community.
- Donors fluctuate — and that’s okay. “It’s a good reality check for us as fundraisers to understand that despite our absolute best efforts, the fact is that new donors who came to our organizations for the first time in 2020 may not stay with the organization,” Leinker said. “That doesn’t mean all is lost… but it is indicative that this is a very unusual time for philanthropy.”`
- Deepening engagement can help retain donors. There are key values organizations can highlight to better attract and retain donors, including mission, impact, personal connection, and trust in the organization. During the pandemic, donors recognized the heightened need for philanthropy in alignment with these values, but it is important to note that this need has not gone away even as people begin to return to some pre-pandemic normalcy.
- Organizations should do more to better prepare for future disruptions. Organizations can start by building a cross-functional team to manage fundraising efforts during times of crisis and identifying different audiences, such as existing donors, board members, or the broader community. The team should consist of people who can speak to these stakeholders best in order to increase communication.
Crafting a successful funding proposal is a challenge for journalists around the world. Competition can be tough, so it’s important to find ways to make your pitch stand out.
The International Journalists' Network (IJnet) offers to talk about crafting a winning pitch across two webinars, offering valuable insights into how journalists can secure financial support for their reporting projects and discussing the topic from the perspective of grantmaking organizations. Here are some key takeaways for developing a strong funding proposal: - Showcase your recent work - Demonstrate the thought you put into your reporting plan - Identify your intended audience Research past successful grants and the reporting that has resulted from them
In these webinars, IJnet gathered together journalists who have developed successful funding proposals in the past provided insight on what worked for them when applying for grants, and are proposing tips to consider when crafting a winning pitch :
- Do your research
- Identify your target audience
- Highlight your past reporting on the issues(s)
- Collaborate with other journalists especially if the funders say this is important
- Follow the timeframe identified by the funders
- Demonstrate the intended impact of your reporting
- Develop a clear reporting plan
At Splice Beta Online, MDIF’s Kevin Brockland, who has vast experience in investment banking and private equity before becoming a media investor, offers tips on what entrepreneurs should think and do at every step of the way.
- Start early with fundraising, as it may be more difficult and take longer than you think. “It’s a time-consuming process that requires attention from the founder and from the senior management,” Brockland says. “So it’s important to be prepared and be organized.”
- While seeking connections to investors, create a “forwardable email” so it’s easier for your network to send introductions
- Know your market, your critical KPIs, and prepare a monthly cash flow statement.
- Know your cash needs.
The GIJN resource centre features information on:
Media viability is a broad concept. On Free Press Unlimited’s resource website, you can find an explanation of the definition and framework of media viability that is used for this resource guide. This is followed by an exploration of digital transformation and how this transformation has impacted the viability of media around the world in many different ways.
Finally, this section includes a summary of the viability of media today, differentiating between media in challenging environments (economically and/or politically) and media operating in relatively free and developed contexts. On the further reading page, you can find abstracts of and links to key resources on media viability.
Moreover, Free Press Unlimited focuses on practical support for media outlets to improve their viability providing .
- information about Free Press Unlimited’s programme called ‘Roadmap for Media Growth‘ (in this programme, media are encouraged to explore opportunities and innovate within the limitations provided by the contexts in which they operate).
Melanie Hui leads Luminate’s portfolio in Southeast Asia was previously Vice President of the Chandler Foundation, where she managed the organisation from its inception, devised its grant-making strategy, identified high-impact development grantees, and led its strategic engagements with other funders and partners.
FundsforNGOs is a social enterprise established with the purpose of increasing the sustainability of NGOs across the world. The organisation accomplishes this by providing online resources for NGOs to increase their awareness and access to donors, resources, and skills. They use technology to spread knowledge from experienced fundraising experts to NGOs around the world and increase their capacity.
For the past two decades, Bridget Gallagher, founder of Gallagher Group, has worked as a fundraiser helping profits and not-for-profit funds. Bridget launched Gallagher Group in 2010 in response to a need among growing non-profit media organizations to navigate the donor universe, articulate their theories of change, and measure their impact.
The resource page also gives tips on :
Civitates regularly organises such sessions where grantees and funders sit together and exchange freely. The goal is to challenge the feeling of the power dynamic that often exists in a funder-grantee relationship.
"There is nothing a grantee can’t ask a funder. We should come back to the practice of open discussions. Also, the ‘Ask me Anything’ format works only if both sides are very open."
Maribel Königer, Director Communications, Journalism, and Media, ERSTE Foundation
Mohamed Nanabhay, Deputy CEO of the Media Development Investment Fund talks about, among other things, how the MDIF decides which businesses to invest in, and why he thinks the pandemic has provided an opportunity for independent media to thrive.