Last month, the Knight Foundation announced the launch of a $1 million fund to support innovation in nonprofit and public media organizations in collaboration with the Investigative News Network. It's called the INNovation Fund and is designed to encourage experimentation, collaboration, and lesson sharing for various media organizations and help them try out new approaches with business models, technology ideas, or in operations.
The $1 million will go to somewhere around 30 projects over the next couple of years, with most grants falling into the range of $25,000 to $35,000. The INNovations Fund is open to any online news nonprofit or public media organization in the U.S. and all grants will be administered by INN and its board.
As Marie Gilot, a media innovation associate with Knight, explained, "This is not about funding content. This is about funding sustainability."
These grants are specifically aimed at helping established journalism organizations "diversify their revenue streams, develop new technology, and find new ways to reach out to audiences." They're looking to help nonprofits secure some degree of long-term security by allowing them to experiment with new ideas and approaches to what they're doing and help cement sustainability in the local news sector.
This is also part of Knight's larger strategy of how they are trying to more effectively fund innovation, especially in the area of news gathering and reporting. Sustainability is the name of the game and though these grants may seem small compared to some of the money Knight tends to disburse, the smaller amounts are designed to let these organizations take a less risky shot at an idea they may not have previously had the funds for.
As the nonprofit news sector grows, Knight is poised to be a prime supporter and this is only one of many strategies they're trying out. As Knight's vice president for journalism and media innovation, Michael Maness said, "This is still such a nascent space, but we're starting to see areas that are really important."