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The long game wins crowdfunding support

The Correspondent reveals how more than a year of relationship building and foundational work led to their successful $2.5 million crowdfunding campaign.

Crowdfunding is a powerful source of audience validation and financial independence, though the strategy for raising large chunks of operations cash in for-profit news is still in its early days.

The case studies are in. This skim-able rundown from The Engaged Journalism breaks down the strategy, execution, and retrospective in a brief set of bullet points by project phase. It pairs nicely with The Lenfest Institute’s Solution Set interview with Ernst-Jan Pfauth, which adds details direct from one of the news organization’s founders.

Dutch De Correspondent, “an antidote to the daily news grind,” had already blazed the trail for community-engaged, member-supported journalism in Europe. The founders set their sights on a global, English-language publication funded with an expanded version of the same strategy, with crowdfunding as the keystone. Now, The Correspondent‘s written the playbook after raising $2.5 million in less than 30 days.

In reality, the ramp-up lasted much longer.

“It looks like a 30-day crowdfunding campaign but it’s so much more than that. It was more than a year of preparation, and it’s very rarely luck,” Jessica Best, engagement editor, The Correspondent.

Note: since this campaign, The Correspondent has reduced its US footprint and as of November 2020 has laid off its only US-based reporter. The dissonance in messaging and execution has caused furor among backers, though the tactics are still useful.

Another note: since we added this resource, The Correspondent has shut down. Read more about the implications for consumer revenue strategies and reader trust here.