Key takeaways include:
Set business goals: News ventures that have been intentional about their growth, including developing clear business plans and financial targets, have scaled their operations at a faster pace. For organizations to transition from surviving to thriving, they must spend more time planning for the future, not simply accounting for the present.
Experiment with new services: Too few organizations have seriously piloted new earned income strategies, but the few that have tried have experienced initial successes attracting new forms of income, from native advertising to sponsorships for events and webinars. Lasting viability for nonprofit news ventures will only come with reduced reliability on fickle philanthropic funding.
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Invest in capacity, not just content: Most organizations continue to devote the lion’s share of their budgets to editorial expenses, the lifeblood of their day-to-day work. News ventures that have grown, though, have consciously invested in future-oriented competencies, such as full-time staff in development and technical innovation, to increase engagement with online content.
Transition from donor to membership model mentality: News ventures have sought to build more robust membership programs that reward small donors with exclusive access to content and events. This offers the promise of more sizeable and stable long-term funding from individual supporters and strengthens relationships with their audiences, making news ventures more keenly aware of community needs and more likely to engage audiences to have an impact.
Plan for impact: The reporting conducted by nonprofit news ventures has triggered meaningful actions and outcomes, though the manner in which most organizations discuss their impact is limited to simple Web metrics and occasional anecdotes. Nonprofits leading the way when it comes to capturing and communicating impact identify clear reporting objectives and ways they will measure those objectives from the outset.