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Understanding the role that philanthropy can play in supporting public interest journalism and how to enable it

Independent journalism Philanthropy Journalism Public interest News media Not for profit sector Australia

Despite repeated proposals to provide news media organisations with deductible gift recipient (DGR) status, there had been no study to interrogate the mechanical barriers for funders and news organisations, and the motivational factors that may affect the philanthropic sector’s appetite to fund public interest journalism.

This report draws on a series of interviews conducted with approximately forty stakeholders from news media organisations and philanthropy to provide insights into the motivations and mechanisms that impact philanthropic giving to public interest journalism.

Key findings:

  • There was a strong view that philanthropy does have a role to play in supporting the Australian news media industry, though participants did not anticipate that philanthropy would be likely to account for a substantial investment;
  • A small but growing market of philanthropists is supporting public interest journalism, motivated by its nature as a public good; by its potential to further another cause they care about; and its importance to community infrastructure;
  • Philanthropic funders lack awareness of the need for support;
  • Current charity and taxation laws are a key constraint;
  • Philanthropists and news media organisations may have only limited exposure to examples of what is being funded and the rationale for it, hindering development;
  • News media organisations do not have experience engaging with philanthropy and can struggle to articulate the social and civic impact of public interest journalism;
  • By addressing regulatory constraints and tapping into existing cause areas, there is potential to grow philanthropic support for the not-for-profit journalism sector.
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