New Report Indicates Growth Of Philanthropy In The Media

According to a new report out of the Knight Foundation, media-related grantmaking grew at almost four times the rate of domestic giving between 2009 and 2011, with 1.86 billion being awarded. The report, Growth in Foundation Support for Media in the United States, is a collaboration between the Foundation Center, Media Impact Funders and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It is the most comprehensive view of philanthropy’s role in the media funding landscape in years.

The numbers are surprising at times. For instance, if treated as a single category, media-related grantmaking would have ranked seventh in domestic grantmaking in 2011 ($687.6 million), placing it just behind environment ($1.5 billion) and just ahead of science and technology ($535 million), religion ($471 million) and the social sciences ($234 million).

The report indicates that 1,012 foundations made 12,040 media-related grants between ’09-’11, totaling 1.86 billion. The funding is categorized under five areas: journalism, news and information; media applications and tools; media platforms; media access and policy; and telecommunications infrastructure.

Impressively, four out of the five areas studied experienced increases in growth, with media application and tools having the highest level of growth (107.8 percent) and telecommunications infrastructure having the only decrease (48.4 percent).

It’s clear that funders are reacting to the changing digital landscape and acting accordingly. The growth for support in ‘new media’ (a.k.a. web-based and mobile technology) vastly outpaced that of traditional media (print, TV and radio) by a factor of four (116.5 percent vs. 29.4 percent).

So what does this all mean? Well, according the study, it means that the state of the media is constantly evolving and so where the money goes changes too.  The report suggests that growth in grantmaking across the spectrum of media is inconsistent, with growth in public broadcasting falling behind the others.

With traditional media outlets experiencing a major decline in revenue, this can only come as good news. Our media institutions will be around to see another day. Just as long as those generous funders have a reason to keep giving.

What do you think? Does this report sound promising for the future of journalism? Sound off in the comments below.