Collaborative Sustainability Guide

A toolkit from The Center for Cooperative Media, The Lenfest Institute, and Solutions Journalism Network

The field of collaborative journalism is growing not just in size, but also in scope. An increasing number of local news organizations are collaborating with one another to produce stories, test new technology, host events, and better serve their communities’ information needs. Many of these collaborative efforts are short-term, meant to cover a single topic or serve a specific need, and often are funded by participating organizations.

However, like many organizations, collaboratives that hope to continue long-term discover they must transition and diversify revenue streams. This means clearly understanding what audience or audiences a given collaborative serves. What jobs does it do for its audience, and how? What revenue streams align with that value proposition?

As this field matures, we wanted to know: What’s working to generate revenue and sustain journalism collaborations, beyond philanthropy?

To answer this question, the Center for Cooperative Media, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Solutions Journalism Network conducted a survey, interviewed collaborative project managers, funders and ecosystem support staff from around the country, and ultimately identified eight innovative examples of collaborative revenue experiments in progress to share with you. These experiments range from new reader revenue streams to newsletter sponsorships, monetizing events and sharing back-office services.

In this guide, we curate some of the top resources available to project managers and newsrooms today to help you put these ideas into action.

Case Studies + Resources

The Collaborative Sustainability Guide: How journalism collaboratives earn the revenue they need to grow and thrive
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How Word In Black leads a national collaboration that generates value for partners
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How Resolve Philly is diversifying its revenue streams to power its growth
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How the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative is experimenting with events revenue
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How New Jersey newsrooms banded together to sell ads
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How sharing back-office services helps sustain collaborative journalism — and Alaska radio stations 
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The basics of philanthropic fundraising for collaboratives
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Experiments in progress: Promising revenue models to watch
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Useful tools and resources to generate revenue for your journalism collaboration
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Local News Solutions

The Lenfest Institute provides free tools and resources for local journalism leaders to develop sustainable strategies to serve their communities.

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