Newsletter: Looking back on the inaugural Lenfest News Philanthropy Summit

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we at The Lenfest Institute are taking a moment to pause and reflect on all we have to be grateful for this year, including the local journalists – here at home in Philadelphia and around the country — who have worked tirelessly to keep us informed about what’s happening in our communities. 

In this issue of the Institute newsletter, we’re also sharing a few other things for which we’re appreciative: The international community of fundraising professionals in the News Philanthropy Network, the collaborative journalism of Spotlight PA and its partners, and more. 

During this season of giving, we hope you’ll consider supporting local news organizations that make a difference in your life. You can find a list of news organizations participating in the year-end NewsMatch campaign here, and can make a tax-deductible donation to The Lenfest Institute, supporting our work on the behalf of local journalism here

We’re grateful for your partnership and support. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or feedback. 


How philanthropy is funding the future of news

At its heart, local journalism is about community. 

News organizations provide a platform that elevates community voices, holds power to account, and brings people together.

As publishers increasingly turn to their communities for financial support, these same principles must apply to their business operations as well — especially as news outlets look to philanthropy as a revenue stream.

“Knowing that the community is stepping up and supporting something that they love and believe in, but in ways that they never have before, building that from scratch is really empowering — whether you’re building a news organization or a development program, it’s really exciting,” said Annie McCain Madonia, The Lenfest Institute’s chief advancement officer.

Madonia was speaking at the Lenfest News Philanthropy Summit, a conference focused exclusively on fundraising to support journalism. It was a project of the Lenfest News Philanthropy Network, a community of practice supporting news and journalism fundraisers and development professionals with year-round workshops, in-depth courses, and networking opportunities. 

She joined Sharon Chan, New York Times deputy, newsroom careers and culture; Fraser Nelson, co-founder and managing director of the National Trust for Local News; and Terry Quinn, The Texas Tribune’s chief development officer, to discuss their journeys to becoming news fundraisers.

Throughout the three-day virtual gathering, which attracted a global audience, participants and presenters shared strategies for better understanding funders, collaborating with both external and internal partners, and how to better reflect communities in fundraising efforts. 

Highlights include: 

  • conversation on community-centric fundraising with Jill Kunishima, vice president of development at Cityside; Andrea Faye Hart, operations and organizational development specialist at MLK50 and board co-chair at Scalawag; and Andrew Herrera, director of growth strategy at City Bureau. 
  • A discussion on strategies for launching a fundraising program from scratch with Johanna Derlega, chief revenue officer of The 19th*, the nonprofit newsroom covering gender and politics, and Rebecca Forman, The Lenfest Institute’s director of advancement. 

We’ve collected additional highlights on our website, and we’ll continue to share lessons from the Summit in the weeks ahead.


Spotlight PA partners with NBC News

Last week, in partnership with NBC News, Spotlight PA published a special investigation on a fatal police shooting of a Pennsylvania teenager. 

In the special report, Spotlight PA and NBC News found that 19-year-old Christian Hall had his hands in the air when he was shot in December 2020. Spotlight PA and NBC News obtained the full, unredacted video for the report—a previous video released by authorities had blurred the final seconds before Hall’s death.

You can read the key findings on Spotlight PA’s website, and watch a video report produced by NBC News.

The newly revealed footage has not only prompted calls for an independent investigation into this specific incident, but also shed light on potential areas for police reform in the state, including mental health crisis response and investigation protocol for officer-involved shootings.

This essential public-service journalism is only made possible through Spotlight PA’s collaborative approach to reporting. Spotlight PA distributes its stories, free of charge, to more than 75 media organizations across Pennsylvania. It also partners nationally with organizations such as ProPublica.

Since launching in 2019, Spotlight PA has become one of the largest and most effective statewide news collaborations in the United States. Spotlight PA is supported by The Lenfest Institute, more than a dozen local and national foundations, and thousands of Pennsylvanians.

You can learn more about Spotlight PA and sign up for its newsletters here.


News and Notes:

• The Build Back Better Act, which the House of Representatives passed last week, includes a payroll tax credit for media outlets. The Lenfest Institute has been a strong supporter of this provision as a member of the Rebuild Local News Coalition. The bill would allow local news organizations to claim a tax credit of $25,000 in the first year and $15,000 for four more years for up to 1,500 employees.

“The payroll tax credit for local publishers included in the Build Back Better Act is a critical step to ensure that a strong local press informs and empowers all Americans to make informed decisions, participate in our democracy, and hold government to account,” said Lenfest Institute Executive Director & CEO Jim Friedlich.

“We join in thanking those in the House of Representatives who ensured that this provision was included in the bill, and the bipartisan coalition that has advocated for this approach, which respects First Amendment rights,” he said. “We urge the Senate to now pass the tax credit to ensure communities here in Pennsylvania and around the country can access high-quality local journalism.” 

• The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists gathered earlier this month for its annual Awards & Scholarship Gala. Lenfest Institute Program Director Shawn Mooring spoke at the event, and Executive Director & CEO Jim Friedlich was honored with the President’s Award. 

Other honorees included Philadelphia Inquirer Reporter Cassie Owens, Inquirer Video Editor/Producer Raishad Hardnett, WDAS radio personality Patty Jackson, and more. Check out a full report on the celebration from The Philadelphia Tribune

• The Lenfest News Philanthropy Network is hosting a four-part Fundraising Fundamentals Course beginning in January 2022. The course will provide participants with key skills and infrastructure best practices to begin to build their own fundraising programs. The deadline to apply is Dec. 6 at 11:59 p.m., and applicants will be notified about their participation in the course by Dec. 17. More details can be found here.

• The Tiny News Collective is looking for six news organizations to join its second cohort of founders launching news organizations in the United States. The collective, which is supported in part by the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund, aims to make journalism entrepreneurship easier for people nationwide through providing tools, resources and knowledge. Applications close Jan. 9, 2022, and more information about the program can be found here


This issue of The Lenfest Institute newsletter was written by Hayley Slusser and Joseph Lichterman

You can subscribe to this newsletter here. For more from the Institute, follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook, or LinkedIn

Please do not hesitate to reply to this email or reach out to [email protected] with any questions or feedback. 

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