Omidyar Network: Grants for Journalism

OVERVIEW: The Omidyar Network is not a traditional foundation. It refers to itself as a "philanthropic investment firm" that models its funding on market-based approaches and makes investments in socially conscious for-profit companies as well as grants to nonprofit organizations.

IP TAKE: The Omidyar Network is unique in its approach to funding in that it takes a "market-based" approach to its grantmaking. It does not accept unsolicited proposals, so funding from here requires some serious networking for grantseekers.

PROFILE: Created in 2004, the Omidyar Network, the foundation of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, takes a market-based approach to its funding and invests in companies and organizations that "have the potential to embody innovation, scale, and sustainability or help bring them about within their industry." It seeks “solutions that enable people to access credible information and resources, connect with others over shared interests, and take constructive action on the issues that matter to them.” Omidyar invests in several areas: Digital Identity, Education, Emerging Tech, Financial Inclusion, Governance & Citizen Engagement, Impact Investing, Property Rights, and Tech & Society Solutions Lab. Each of these areas has a portfolio of companies and organizations that relate to journalism, from places like the Media Development Investment Fund and GlobalGiving, to Refugees United and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The most obvious area for journalists to pursue support is in Governance and Citizen Engagement. Though the Omidyar Network has not funded individual journalists, it has funded journalism start-ups and small organizations that routinely cover this subject. For example, in 2014 Omidyar Network committed $350,000 to Insight TWI: The World Investigates, an investigative journalism production team that equips journalist throughout the world with equipment, techniques and access to international broadcasters. It should be noted that Pierre Omidyar's own news venture and its holding company, First Look Media, will not be connected to the Omidyar Network in any way.

Omidyar’s initial investments are at least $1 million or more, so it has a solid interest in seeing their grantees succeed. To date the Network has invested over $976 million. Of that money, $468 million has supported for-profit investments and $508 million to nonprofit grants.

Since they do not accept any unsolicited proposals, becoming part of the Omidyar Network requires some creative networking, but the rewards can be very worthwhile. The best way to find who is connected to which area of investment is to peruse the Network's entire team here. Good luck and happy hunting.


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