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Poynter seeks to boost the money it makes from philanthropy

Poynter seeks to boost the money it makes from philanthropy

The Poynter Institute – the Florida-based journalism institution “dedicated to teaching and inspiring journalists and media leaders” – is suffering from a lack of cash, the Tampa Tribune reported on Saturday.

Poynter’s finances have been hit by a double whammy, the article suggests. Up until now, the Institute has been partially funded by dividends from the Tampa Bay Times, a for-profit paper that it owns. Now, however, due to sinking revenues in the news industry, Poynter says this model of funding is “no longer viable by itself.”

Secondly, the Tampa Tribune writes that, due to the same financial problems, Poynter has been making less money from its training programs. “Fewer news organizations can afford to send staff to Poynter for classes — eroding the tuition base,” states the article.

To counter these losses, Poynter is looking to massively boost the amount money that it receives from philanthropy. The Institute posted an advert last April for a new President of the Poynter Foundation, an entity created by the Poynter Institite in March to “identify and develop new resources.” The future president is expected to “create, design and implement a comprehensive development plan that will increase, diversify and sustain philanthropic giving.”

Up until this point, explains the job advert, Poynter has been funded by a "blended business model" that is "based on newspaper dividends, tuition, and a few charitable individuals and foundations to underwrite its programs." Now, however, “strategic thinking over the past couple of years indicates that this model will no longer provide the necessary resources that will enable Poynter to thrive and grow in the future.”

Poynter spells out its financial goals clearly. Currently, the advert says, Poynter makes $2 million of its $6 million annual budget from foundation donations and from a “locally-based annual campaign.” Now, according to the advert, Poynter is looking for someone to “double the amount raised within two years, expand the annual campaign, and prepare the Foundation and the Institute to launch an endowment campaign in the future.”

The Tampa Tribune quotes the President of Poynter Karen Dunlap, who admits “these have been difficult times.” She says that, as a result of the Institute’s expensive campus "a number of people think there's a huge pot of gold in a closet somewhere in Poynter. That's not true. I've looked." The Tribune writes that Poynter’s expenses were $8.5 million in 2010 and $9.6 million in 2008 – well in excess of its $6 million budget.

The Tribune also reports that Dunlap is hoping to raise money for the Poynter Institute by selling off some of its property. According to the article, the organisation owns $2.5 million of real estate, not including its own campus and car park. Dunlap was in meetings last week to finalise plans to sell it, the article says. 

Sources: Tampa Tribune,, Poynter (1) (2), Romenesko


Hannah Vinter


2012-06-04 14:35

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