The struggle to fund local news was already well known. During the global pandemic, we have increasingly seen the need for quality reporting to inform communities. Aligning with the Ottawa Community Foundation’s commitment to positive, systemic, and sustainable change, we have launched the Journalism Endowment Matching Program.

This program aims to support those that play a critical role in creating healthy and resilient communities by providing capacity and matching funds to eligible organizations.

The program has three objectives to:

  • Strengthen philanthropic support for journalism activities and journalism organizations.
  • Spark donor interest and engagement in supporting journalism.
  • Sustain a mechanism for journalism organizations to support themselves in the long-term, by raising funds from community and donors into their own organizational fund.

Will Canadians Donate to the News Media?

The answer is: We don’t know yet. We have seen some crowdfunded models succeed. We have seen tech founders put their support behind new business models and innovators coming together to scale community news models. A charitable model—what some have called a catalyst for experimentation—could be one part of the funding basket. This pilot project will test Canadians’ interest in establishing and supporting such models.

What We’ve Seen Elsewhere

In Seattle, news readers can donate to The Seattle Times’ Investigative News Fund and receive a tax receipt from The Seattle Foundation. Through donations, citizens can support reporting that demands accountability and explores solutions meant to strengthen community and democracy in that city.

Broke in Philly is co-funded by a number of U.S. foundations. It’s focused on foregrounding community members’ voices with solutions-oriented reporting on economic justice as part of the Resolve Philly hub

Another U.S. fund to support journalists of colour launched in September of 2019 and has taken on more prominence in recent weeks. It aims to bolster a strong, diverse, and independent media sector.

Here in Canada, we’ve seen a number of funders coordinate to support a special report called First Nations Forward, highlighting sustainability and alternative energy solutions led by Indigenous communities. A national network of philanthropic funders came together to explore ideas and paths forward across sectors. Many of those organizations are evaluating what kind of involvement they might have in the future of shaping a better society, something that is of interest to both journalism and philanthropy.

Some are interested in helping revitalize and strengthen the core tenets of journalism: holding power to account and serving the public interest. Others see opportunity in this time of change to correct inequities in the makeup of newsrooms. 

As new business models and storytelling methods emerge, many are interested in giving a voice and a platform to those who have been underrepresented or to supporting shifts towards new funding models. When a group working at the intersection of public interest journalism and democracy met in 2019, it noted that changing times offer “an opportunity for a collective reimagining of the stories and futures that communities are already working towards.”

Learn more about the Journalism Endowment Matching Program.