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Cultivating support for nonprofit news organizations: commitment, trust and donating audiences

Elia Powers (Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)
Ronald A. Yaros (Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 3 May 2013

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the importance of relationship fundraising and cultivating committed donors for nonprofit news outlets seeking financial sustainability, particularly during a time of major changes in the journalism industry.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper examines four nonprofit news organizations and their audiences of financial contributors. Results from a survey of 465 donors and subsequent interviews with donors are discussed.

Findings

Nonprofit news organizations rely heavily upon individual supporters who typically give often but in small chunks. Donors tend to favor nonprofit journalism organizations that report quality, local news stories not usually found in other news sources. Donors place a premium on developing a relationship with journalists in their communities and are likely to support their local nonprofit news source once the news outlet has earned their trust.

Research limitations/implications

News organizations were allowed to choose which donors received invitations to take the survey, and donors to one news organization provided the vast majority of responses. Future research should explore how nonprofit journalism donors differ from donors to other types of nonprofit organizations.

Practical implications

This paper reveals new data about audiences of emerging media organizations. The interests and behaviors of donors help to provide new insights into audience engagement.

Originality/value

The paper profiles donors to four relatively new nonprofit organizations and investigates their motivations for providing financial support. Managers of communication organizations could benefit from new strategies for audience cultivation.

Keywords

Citation

Powers, E. and Yaros, R.A. (2013), "Cultivating support for nonprofit news organizations: commitment, trust and donating audiences", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 157-170. https://doi.org/10.1108/13632541311318756

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited