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Methodology for our survey of media and funders

The surveys of foundations and media organizations do not represent of all media-funding foundations, nonprofit media organizations or commercial news outlets in the United States. The precise size and scope of that universe is difficult to determine, but efforts were made to have as comprehensive and representative sample as possible.

Although the surveys are not based on probability samples (and therefore no margin of sampling error can be calculated), we believe they offer a useful contribution to the understanding of this community. Rather than the precise size of each perspective, the surveys can reveal the range of views of people who are dealing with the same concerns.

For the sample, we identified as many foundations and media as possible, using lists compiled by several professional groups, including Local Independent Online Publishers, Newspaper Association of America, Institute for Nonprofit News, Investigative Reporting Workshop and Media Impact Funders. The sample was augmented with original research by API and a list of nonprofit news publishers assembled by the Pew Research Center in 2013.

Email invitations containing links to the appropriate on-line survey were sent, with reminder follow-up emails close to the deadline.  The surveys were conducted using Survey Monkey, an online research software system.

Survey invitations were sent to representatives of 102 foundations and other grant making institutions.  A total of 76 funding organizations responded, a 75 percent response rate.  The results in this report are based on the 63 funders who said yes to the screening question, “Does your foundation make grants to news or media organizations?”

For nonprofit media organizations, 119 emails were sent, and representatives from 94 outlets responded to the survey for a response rate of 79 percent.  Emails were sent to top editors and managers at 662 commercial news companies and 146 responded, giving the survey a 22 percent response rate.  Of those organizations, 76 said they ever had partnered with nonprofit media or accepted nonprofit funding.

While the response rate for commercial news survey is not as high as the other two polls, it is much better than the response rate for a typical survey of the general public.  In addition, it is certainly possible that many of the media outlets chose not to respond because they have had no relationships with any nonprofit group.

The surveys were executed in stages from May to November 2015.  Surveys were completed by nonprofit media organizations in two phases, May 20 to  July 5 and Oct. 16 to  Nov. 2.  Commercial news outlets were surveyed Oct. 6 to Nov. 5. And the surveys of funders were conducted May 21 to July 6.

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