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This booklet is a starter guide for foundations interested in exploring how to make impactful journalism and community-information grants. Foundations do not need to have a formal journalism program to make grants that support healthy news and information flows. Nor does a foundation need large dollar investments to get started. Even a small grant may help citizens in a given community or demographic gain access to credible information that will help them participate in civic life.
This report offers an overview of Foundation Maps for Media Funding, a free, interactive mapping and research tool that shows the full scope of philanthropically-funded media projects worldwide since 2009. Developed by Foundation Center and available on the Media Impact Funders' website, this new tool enables users to see, understand, and dig deep into the numbers, networks, and trends surrounding media and philanthropy.
This report profiles nine organizations identified by grantmakers and independent research as adventurous in their use of digital media. They represent a mix of arts disciplines, geographies, organizational sizes and media purposes. Some are using digital tools to extend organizational capacities in new ways while others are creating, documenting and disseminating the art itself.Conversations with these nine organizations revealed common themes:Organizations describe the work as building capabilities, not "doingprojects." Digital tools and platforms are now essential building blocksin an organization's work and need to be created accordingly.Leading digital culture entrepreneurs want grantmakers to makebigger bets on organizations with strong track records. Building newcapabilities is expensive, particularly at the scale of large culturalinstitutions.There is a sense that, globally, U.S. organizations lag. The E.U. hassupported open culture, digital initiatives aggressively, making Europe,in particular, a hotbed of digital cultureOrganizations are looking for much greater risk-taking from thefunding community. "Grantmakers still expect only home runs," saidmore than one organization, and they point out that in for-profitindustry many tech projects failDigital culture projects are helping organizations reach massaudiences as well as niches. Both are important.Several of the organizations in our profiles had received no dedicatedfunding for their work. "Our funders are not ready to do this, so wehave to do it ourselves," said interviewees.The most important theme of this report, though, is the incredible creativity and energy of these digital culture entrepreneurs. Cultural organizations and artists are using digital media to invent new ways to create and distribute art and to reach and engage audiences.
Over the last decade, media -- the means by which we communicate -- has evolved significantly. Television, radio, and print newspapers and magazines were once the primary means to obtain news and information. However, the rapid evolution of the Internet and mobile technology has generated new media platforms and expanded the universe of information creators, producers, and distributors. Media information once flowed in one direction, but the expansion of the field has made the movement more diffuse.With this changing landscape as a backdrop, the Foundation Center, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Wyncote Foundation, and in collaboration with Media Impact Funders, GuideStar, and the Ford Foundation, sought to provide a fuller picture of media-related grantmaking by U.S. foundations. Tracking investments from 2009 to 2011, the data reveals that foundations are increasingly supporting media-related work across multiple areas. At the same time, they are tapping into larger trends, with investments in new media growing at a faster pace than traditional media investments. However, growth in grantmaking across the spectrum of media is inconsistent -- with growth in public broadcasting falling behind growth in investments in other areas.As demand for media funding continues to rise, these gaps are the most important ones to watch -- especially considering the 2011 Federal Communications Commission report, "The Information Needs of Communities", which called for philanthropy to play a bigger role in supporting media. Since this is a baseline assessment, it will be crucial to see how media grantmaking evolves.
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