NONPROFIT WOES DEMONSTRATE FUNDING FLAWS


An innovative and ambitious nonprofit news agency in Australia has had its funding abruptly pulled, leaving its future dangerously uncertain.

While nonprofit news agencies are nothing new in America, they are still a bit of an anomaly other places in the world. Yet one intrepid new news organization has recently attempted to bring nonprofit news to the people of Australia. Thanks to a generous donation from Wotif founder Graeme Wood, The Global Mail was able to deliver quality news from a nonprofit organization. Wood donated around $13 million USD to The Global Mail, and all he expected in return was high-quality news.

Now The Global Mail is in trouble. Wood announced recently that he would no longer fund the nonprofit endeavor, despite his 2011 promise. With their primary benefactor out, The Global Mail is desperately seeking an alternative support structure so that they might continue to deliver high-quality, ad-free news.

The Global Mail is not without its merits. It has won multiple awards as a platform for some of Oz’s best journalist and delivered a level of quality that is not often found in online news sources. At its height, The Global Mail was receiving around 258,000 unique visitors a month, but without ads, these visits were never converted into revenue.

Wood’s rescinded promise for backing came after he took a serious financial hit, estimated at around $48 million. He says that he will do all he can to ease the transition if another backer steps forward. The Global Mail’s situation demonstrates the potential drawbacks of a nonprofit relying solely on one large donor, as any set back in that donor’s contributions will have a massive impact on the stability of the organization.

Now that The Global Mail is no more, other innovative nonprofit news organizations are looking to take its place. The New Daily, launched in late 2013, is partially funded by the industry superfunds network, instead of solely funded by a private individual. The UK’s Daily Mail is also making inroads into Australia this year.

Nonprofits of all kinds can learn a lesson from the unfortunate demise of The Global Mail. While relying on one wealthy donor for support has its advantages – streamlined finances, reduced fundraising costs, etc. – it is not without its serious pitfalls. A more evenly distributed support network can help to reinforce the resiliency of a nonprofit, and will allow it weather economic ups and downs more effectively.

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