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Decoding Media Impact: Insights, Advice & Recommendations

January 23, 2020

This report provides an examination of the current state of the field of media impact assessment, which Media Impact Funders (MIF) has been tracking for seven years. It is meant to serve as a practical resource for funders who want to understand where to start. Informed by feedback from our network, it represents a synthesis of the past seven years of work we've done in the impact space, and includes examples of successful media impact evaluation, tools and frameworks for assessment, and the challenges of defining and measuring impact in a rapidly-shifting media landscape.Our years of research have led us to four key insights, and this report includes a deep dive into each of them, as well as companion guest essays from leaders in the field. We hope you will use this guide to inform your own practice, and to continue this critical conversation.

Radio and Audio Grantmaking: Reaching New Audiences Through Old Platforms

May 17, 2019

Both radio and audio are being used in exciting ways to reach new audiences, spark civic engagement and dialogue across diverse communities, examine science and advance disability education, and much more. Radio, in particular, is garnering significant support from philanthropy across a range of programming themes. While perhaps considered a less dynamic media format in recent years, compared to extraordinary growth in web- and mobile-based media grantmaking, funding data tell a different story. Radio receives a significant share of philanthropic funding, particularly when compared to television and film and video.

Global Media Philanthropy: What Funders Need to Know About Data, Trends and Pressing Issues Facing the Field

March 28, 2019

With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Media Impact Funders has been researching trends, challenges and opportunities for global media funding. The research in this report draws on a variety of sources: data from the media data map through 2015, results from a survey of leading organizations engaged in funding media-related projects around the world, analyses of existing literature and reports, and insights offered by experts across a range of media funding issues.

Funding Journalism, Finding Innovation: Success Stories and Ideas for Creative, Sustainable Partnerships

June 20, 2018

Produced by Media Impact Funders in collaboration with Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, this case study report surfaces pioneering funding practices in journalism. It highlights five foundations and their grantees, and describes the innovative ways in which philanthropic support can revive quality journalism.

Journalism and Media Grantmaking: Five Things You Need to Know and Five Ways to Get Started

February 14, 2018

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.

Foundation Maps for Media Funding

June 28, 2016

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.

Impact Assessment for Nonprofit News Projects and their Funders

September 1, 2015

This is a how-to guide for funders and nonprofit news organizations looking to develop media assessment strategies.

Funder Perspectives: Assessing Media Investments

January 23, 2015

How are funders evaluating the outcomes of the media productions and campaigns that they support? Over the past five years, this question has informed a growing array of convenings, reports and research initiatives within the philanthropic sector, driving the emergence of a small but increasingly visible field of analysts and producers seeking to both quantify and qualify the impact of public interest media.These examinations have stimulated debate among both funders and grantees. Calls for the creation of a single media impact metric or tool have been met with both curiosity and skepticism. Those in favor of impact analysis cite its strategic usefulness in this moment of myriad new and untested media platforms, the importance of concretely tying mission to outcomes, and the need to justify media investments rather than programmatic ones. Detractors raise concerns about how an excess of evaluation might stifle creativity, needlessly limit funding to those projects whose short-term impact can be conclusively proven, or simply bog grantees down in administrative tasks that require entirely different skills, as well as resources.However, these debates have taken place in somewhat of an information vacuum. To date, the conversation about media impact has been led by a limited group of foundations. Little substantive information is available about how a broader range of funders address questions of evaluation. This research project aims to help fill that gap.The report, Funder Perspectives: Assessing Media Investments explores the multiple and sometimes overlapping lenses through which grantmakers view media evaluation, and confirms that there are still many unanswered questions.

Communications Strategies That Fast Track Policy Change

September 5, 2014

Partnering with Media Impact Funders for Communications Strategies that Fast Track Policy Change, The California Endowment aims to identify and share examples that use media and communications grantmaking to create a more receptive environment for dialogue about potential solutions, build public momentum and generate political will for policy change.

Molto+Media: Digital Culture Funding

December 17, 2013

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.

Funding Media, Strengthening Democracy: Grantmaking for the 21st Century

March 10, 2010

Despite the pervasiveness of media, the amount of philanthropic dollars in support of public interest media remains minuscule and, therefore largely ineffective. The report, based on a survey of the the funding sector, calls on philanthropists to embrace a practice of transparency and information sharing via technology, to determine how existing funds are being used and how they can best be leveraged to increase philanthropic impact within the media field.

Media Access and Policy

Investing in Youth Media: A Guide for Grantmakers

December 6, 2006

Investing in Youth Media is a compilation of success stories, lessons, and guidance for grantmakers interested in being part of the vibrant and growing field of youth media. It is a tool to help funders consider the value of youth media in connection to program areas such as civic engagement, the arts, education, youth development, and journalism.Why are funders becoming interested in youth media? Youth media organizations offer a broad impact that belies their often small sizes and even smaller budgets. They bring together youth development and social justice in a way that is both energizing and authentic. They offer new models for educating young people who have lost interest in school, bring youth voices to public attention, and offer opportunities for artistic exploration and career experiences.Programs are built on the best practices of positive youth development, teaching young people new skills and empowering them to make smart decisions, explore new horizons, and work toward their goals. Program graduates leave with skills in interviewing, researching, and storytelling. They learn how to develop an idea and stick with it until they get the project done. These skills become important for their professional and personal lives.At the same time, youth media organizations can engage young people in social justice issues that are important to them. Whether it's inequity in education, foster care conditions, or the politics of immigration, young people explore the landscape, develop opinions, and share those opinions, along with their personal experiences, through film, radio, and the printed word. Although they are still too young to vote, these young people have found a way to impact the issues that affect their lives.While most funders do not have a defined youth media program, many find that youth media is an effective component of their grantmaking strategy. The case studies that follow introduce youth media programs supported by a variety of small local funders and large international philanthropies. They illustrate the links between youth media and six other program areas: youth development, social change, youth voice, education, journalism, media arts, and field building.The resource list at the end of this publication includes contact information for all of the youth media organizations listed here as well as intermediaries and others who can help you consider, develop, and launch a youth media philanthropy program.

Media Access and Policy

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