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Foundation partnerships enable big experiments in Seattle

Partnerships with trusted community philanthropic bodies can boost foundation and donor fundraising, as The Seattle Times proves with its latest project-specific fund in partnership with the Seattle Community Fund. The structure and tactics they use are adaptable to funding other local reporting efforts.

The Seattle Times and The Seattle Foundation are flexing the power of aligned community priorities, experimental financial arrangements, and donor funds. The proof is in the $114,000 the family-run paper has secured for its new investigative fund through this innovative financial structure.

The Seattle Foundation has not donated money directly to The Seattle Times, which remains one of the shrinking number of family-owned major metro newspapers. But pro bono sponsorship and highly regarded word-of-mouth aren’t bad. The Seattleites’ almost-decade-long relationship has helped the Times take the lead in local fundraising, with the community foundation’s reputation by its side. And it helps that the Times’ solutions focus, honed through multiple prototype topical labs funded by philanthropy, makes supporting its journalism an easier sell.

This success required that the Times’ leaders learn how to build relationships with major donors, rather than slipping into transactional or “extractive” patterns, while setting up a new financial arrangement with the community foundation.