A resource for news innovators to learn, plan & do.
Complexity: Intermediate
Article Complexity Bar Graph

The Narwhal, a nonprofit news outlet in Canada, uses mini-campaigns to maximize donor support

The Narwhal found that fundraising can be as simple as a direct ask tucked into a email newsletter post-script. Accordingly, they trashed the usual non-profit campaign calendar in favor of timely, specific invitations for their readers to back their action.

The Narwhal, a nonprofit news outlet in Canada, struck fundraising gold with small-scale fundraising campaigns to finance essential components of their work.

It started with an offhand ask:

The Narwhal’s editor-in-chief Emma Gilchrist added a postscript to an email newsletter inviting readers to pitch in to help cover a $643.51 bill from the Alberta government for a freedom of information request. That single request brought in $5,000 and empowered the indie media outlet to create an entire fund to cover the cost of future Freedom of Information requests.

With that wild success, the team now ties post-script campaigns and more complex asks to specific, measurable milestones, rather than an inflexible major campaigns calendar.

After three years, the strategy has paid off in member recruitment and audience growth. That’s an admirable focus on performance, rather than fundraising-as-usual.