Chronicle of Philanthropy, a publication that reports on the American philanthropy sector, has announced plans to become an independent nonprofit organisation. The publication was founded in 1988, and since that time has been owned by The Chronicle of Higher Education Inc., a private, for-profit company.
The Chronicle has already received funding commitments totalling almost $6 million to support this new move – funders include the Hewlett Foundation, which has committed $3 million; the Ford Foundation, which has committed $2 million; the Mott Foundation, which has committed $550,000; the Walton Family Foundation ($200,000); the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($100,000); the Hilton Foundation ($75,000); and The Heinz Endowments ($50,000).
As a part of its new plan, the Chronicle will add at least 13 new staff positions – eight of which will be editorial, according to a statement. It hopes that this ‘major leap forward’, according to Chronicle of Philanthropy founder Stacy Palmer, will allow it to maximise its impact and better serve the growing and diverse social sector.
Palmer, who will become executive director of the new nonprofit, said: ‘We are boldly reimagining our mission to both amplify our role as a trusted source of information for social sector professionals but also to double down on our collaboration with other global news outlets to ensure the public better understands the trillion-dollar world of nonprofits and foundations.’
Chronicle has been working toward an expanded journalistic and professional development mission since last year, beginning with a collaboration with the Association Press and the Conversation funded by the Lilly Endowment to add five journalists to cover the nonprofit world, as well as create a fellowship programme for local and regional news organisations to learn how to better cover the social sector.
The growth of nonprofit newsrooms
According to a 2020 Index by the Institute for Nonprofit News, about a dozen or more nonprofit media organisations have launched each year since 2008. Some, like ProPublica and The Texas Tribute, have been household names for a while – and there are also more recent projects like The Beacon in Kansas City, the 19th*, and The Markup.
In many cases, nonprofit media organisations are launching to fill gaps in a hollowed-out sector. Local and explanatory reporting has been one of the major focus areas for these projects, seeking to cover the reporting holes left by the shuttering of some 1,800 local print outlets over the last two decades which has left at least 200 counties in America with no newspaper at all.
According to a statement, Chronicle will maintain a strict separation between its funding and its journalism to ensure integrity and objectivity for all news and analysis. It has also pledged to be transparent about the funding it receives.
‘For our democracy to thrive, we need to spotlight the people of varied backgrounds, beliefs, and faiths who are solving problems, bridging divides, and advancing real change in their communities and across the nation,’ said Trabian Shorters, CEO and founder of BMe Community, who will be the chair of the new organisation’s board of directors.
‘Yet today’s highly polarized media environment makes it increasingly difficult to find that productive content. That’s why it is so important and exciting that The Chronicle of Philanthropy is deeply committed to spotlighting the work of the social sector for the benefit of all’, Shorters said.