As we embark upon the sixth year of the program in 2021, INN is taking a moment to reflect on the program’s challenges and opportunities. How might we evolve NewsMatch to strengthen long-term fundraising capabilities in the nonprofit news field?

Each survey entry, focus group, personal email, and one-on-one conversation with INN members about this topic have been invaluable to us — helping to identify the existing impact of NewsMatch and ways the program design can be strengthened. 

As a result, here is a summary of key changes happening in 2021:

  • The distribution of national dollar-for-dollar match funds will be concentrated amongst newsrooms with operating expenses below $1M in their prior calendar year (January 1 to December 31).

  • All INN members of any size remain eligible to receive goal-based bonus awards and partner funds 

  • INN is working to develop and integrate resources to help newsrooms build their local match funds.

  • Time-saving resources and messaging materials like the NewsMatch Campaign Toolkit will remain available to all NewsMatch participants

  • NewsMatch will be sunsetting the use of GiveGab after 2021 and supporting organizations with resources to adopt or improve donor processing tools and platforms this year


To discuss how this may impact the value of your INN membership, please contact our membership team at membership@inn.org.




What is NewsMatch?

NewsMatch is a collective fundraising campaign that is designed to transform how communities support the journalism that serves them. Since 2016, nonprofit news organizations have raised more than $150 million from 2.3 million individual donors during the NewsMatch matching-gift campaign. This initiative is one of the most ambitious collaborative fundraising campaigns in the field of journalism, raising more than $21 million in pooled matching funds from 17 national and more than 300 local funders. 

What are the goals of NewsMatch?

Our long-term vision is to ensure relevant and reliable news for every community across the U.S. by strengthening the financial sustainability of nonprofit news outlets that serve them. NewsMatch has four intersecting strategic priorities to achieve this goal:

  1. Dramatically increase the number of people that support nonprofit journalism

  2. Grow local and regional investments from large donors and philanthropic institutions

  3. Develop and strengthen sustainable fundraising capabilities within newsrooms

  4. Increase awareness and public support for nonprofit journalism.

By adopting these strategies and iterating solutions to achieve them, we aim to transform how communities view and sustain journalism. If successful, NewsMatch will serve as an accelerator to establish nonprofit journalism as a legitimate and necessary cause for philanthropic support. By building and strengthening the pipeline of supporters, the program seeks to establish sustained and recurring investments by individuals, foundations, and businesses in nonprofit journalism for years to come.

How does NewsMatch work?

NewsMatch is a national matching-gift campaign designed to strengthen the fundraising capacity of nonprofit newsrooms and promote giving to journalism in the U.S. The program centers on a collaborative fundraising model that leverages the support of multiple community stakeholders to increase dollars raised by nonprofit newsrooms year over year.

This effort is powered by three core elements:

  1. A matching gift program that sparks giving to nonprofit newsrooms and ultimately increase community impact

  2. Learning resources and experiences that help newsrooms strengthen their fundraising capacities, expand their giving pipeline, and increase the dollars coming into their organization

  3. A public awareness campaign that engages new supporters and highlights the impact of quality journalism in their community to ultimately generate increased financial support

Which newsrooms can participate in NewsMatch?

NewsMatch is open to nonprofit news organizations that are active members of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN). The deadline to apply for INN membership in time to apply for NewsMatch 2021 is July 7, 2021. Explore INN membership →

When is the deadline to apply for NewsMatch 2021?

Both active, prospective, and pending INN members must apply to participate in NewsMatch 2021 by the application deadline. The NewsMatch application window will open in June 2021. Please subscribe to INN’s INNovation newsletter to receive notification of the NewsMatch application process and deadline when it is announced.

Which newsrooms will be eligible for NewsMatch’s dollar-for-dollar match in 2021?

In 2021, NewsMatch will concentrate the distribution of dollar-for-dollar match funds amongst newsrooms that have operating expenses below $1 million in the prior calendar year (January 1 to December 31, 2020).

Why did NewsMatch decide to change how it would distribute match funds? 

While growth in individual giving has been a central marker of success for the program, we also noticed something bigger was happening. NewsMatch has also provided pathways for major donors, local and regional foundations, and small businesses to invest in independent news outlets in the form of local or additional match funds.

Local or additional matches are matching gifts that are awarded in addition to the funds given by national NewsMatch funders. Oftentimes, newsrooms leverage the national NewsMatch campaign model and messages to independently secure these gifts. In 2020, newsrooms secured nearly $3.1 million in additional local matches — more than double the amount from the year prior and nearly equivalent to match funds issued formally through NewsMatch.

A sustainable future for independent news will rely on increasing the number of people that support journalism as well as growing investments made by larger donors and local funders. NewsMatch’s collective fundraising model has seen success in building both.

In 2021, we are distributing national match dollars to have the greatest impact in the field while supporting all INN participating members with resources, knowledge, and messaging to optimize their year-end campaign and secure local match funds.

Learn more about why we made these changes, please view the recording of our past webinar below.

What are local (or additional) match funds?

Additional match funds or "local" matches are donations or pledges that newsrooms secure on your own to increase the total amount of dollars matched by individuals during your NewsMatch campaign. Additional match contributions can come from your board members, major donors, local businesses, and foundations interested in your work. These gifts are made outside of the formal NewsMatch structure to increase your pool of match funds.

What is going on with GiveGab? Will I be required to use it to participate in NewsMatch?

GiveGab is set to process new donations through December 2021. However, we are exploring alternative ways to help people discover INN members participating in NewsMatch and make donations through your existing donor systems.

If your newsroom is solely reliant on GiveGab as a donor processing tool, we are encouraging you to establish a donor processing tool and platform that is internal to your organization. Starting in July 2021, INN will provide technical consulting and services for members to adopt or improve donor technologies and systems.

How did you determine which changes would be made to the NewsMatch program? 

Throughout last year's campaign, we listened to INN member feedback about NewsMatch. Many expressed pain points about the GiveGab platform, some shared disappointment about the lower match cap, and a few offered ideas about how the program could be improved. This valuable feedback kickstarted a strategic planning effort to strengthen the program design.

Our team applied a design thinking approach to identify the value INN members saw in the program and incorporate their ideas into how the program could be strengthened. The process involved a post-campaign survey, focus group discussions, and one-on-one interviews that engaged nearly 100 INN member contacts.

We continue to maintain an open door for member feedback and direction about the program. Please send your additional thoughts and ideas to NewsMatch’s Program Manager, Courtney Hurtt, at courtney@inn.org

Can I still participate in NewsMatch if my organization has operating expenses above $1 million? (Yes, you can). What is the benefit for my organization?

Yes, all active INN members (regardless of size) are eligible to participate in NewsMatch 2021. All INN members that apply to participate are still eligible for partner funds and goal-based bonus awards.

You will still receive full access to NewsMatch’s learning offerings like our webinars and peer-to-peer info exchanges. You’ll also continue to receive access to time-saving resources like the Campaign Toolkit  — our library of emails, banner ads, and social media assets that can be customized to run your campaign.

What are partner funds?

Partner funds (or “side funds”) are additional matching grants awarded to a selection of newsrooms working in specific geographic regions or issue areas. The offering has proven to be an effective pathway to engage regional funders, interest-based funders, and funders that are new journalism to support INN members through NewsMatch. For example, in the past, partner funds have been awarded to select organizations led by people of color or investigative new outlets in the American South.

View NewsMatch’s Year-over-Year Key Results to view the past distribution of partner funds through the program.

What can I do to make sure my organization is eligible for partner funds?

As part of this year’s application process, we are asking INN members to provide additional background information about their newsroom. We’ll ask you to more specifically identify your topic areas, geographic scope, and diversity initiatives. This provides NewsMatch with valuable information to target and build partner funds.

If you are interested in working with INN members to build your own collaborative partner fund, we are happy to help. Please contact our team at hello@newsmatch.org to start a conversation on how we can most helpful in your fundraising efforts.

What are goal-based bonus awards?

Bonus awards are issued to newsrooms that hit certain target growth metrics. These goals are designed to create opportunities to build sustainable fundraising practices for newsroom participants. Details about the bonuses for 2021 will be shared with participants before the campaign launch. For example, in the past, bonus funds were awarded to all participants that raised at least $11,500 and additional funds to startups that secured 100 new donors.

View NewsMatch’s Year-over-Year Key Results to view the past distribution of goal-based bonus awards through the program.

Am I still required to complete the INN Index survey to participate in NewsMatch?

The INN Index is the most comprehensive study of the state of nonprofit news. By asking all NewsMatch participants to complete this annual survey, we are able to measure the impact of NewsMatch which is an essential part of our fundraising case for support. It alerts program staff and funders to challenges, needs, and opportunities in the field and informs the program strategy from year to year. By requiring the completion of the INN Index, we are also minimizing redundancy in the questions we would include as part of the NewsMatch reporting process.