The Guardian sets up a nonprofit to support its journalism


The Guardian sets up a nonprofit to support its journalism - 29th August 2017

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Masthead of the The Guardian's UK newspaper. Photo: Supplied


by Amie Tsang

London: The Guardian, three years removed from a Pulitzer Prize that helped spur the British newspaper's international expansion, is fully embracing a new moneymaking strategy in the face of industry-wide revenue problems: philanthropy.

The company has established a nonprofit venture in the United States, theguardian.org, to focus on tapping philanthropic organisations - or even corporate foundations and think tanks - for financial help to report on issues including human rights and climate change.

Rachel White, president of theguardian.org, said the nonprofit's charitable status would make it easier for more organisations and private individuals, who might otherwise feel conflicted about contributing to a for-profit newsroom, to donate.

The unit, which received its tax-exempt status in October, has been setting up partnerships since December. Since then, theguardian.org has secured more than $US1 million in funding from the Skoll Foundation, which was set up by Jeff Skoll, the first president of eBay; Humanity United, part of the Omidyar Group founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar; and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the organisation set up by the hotel entrepreneur.

White pointed to the Skoll and Hilton foundations, in particular, as philanthropic organisations that "wanted to support quality discourse."

Fundraising efforts, at a time when the news business is in upheaval and has faced public attacks, have been helped by foundations' increasing worries about the future of the news industry, White said.

"There's an awakening to this concern that some of the issues that they hold dear are not getting coverage or there's not enough information in the public sphere," she said.

The Guardian's new nonprofit approach is in line with the pitch it makes to readers: Rather than establish a paywall on its website, the company includes a message at the bottom of its stories asking for visitors to subscribe or make a financial contribution.

The Guardian has already used contributions from nonprofits, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, to help fund its reporting. Philanthropic partnerships make up a relatively small portion - about 3.8 million pounds, or $6.2 million - of the company's approximately $347 million in revenues for the 12-month period that ended April 2. But over the past 12 months, it has received commitments of $7.5 million in multiyear funding.

The Guardian, which built on the success of its Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of leaks from Edward Snowden by expanding in the United States in 2014, has had to cut costs in order to stem its losses, which were 44.7 million pounds ($72.7 million) in the fiscal year ending April 2017, compared with 68.7 million pounds ($111.6) the year before.

(New York Times)