Report: Informing the Initial Priorities of IFPIM
Informing the Initial Priorities of the International Fund for Public Interest Media IFPIM

Background

In November 2021, IFPIM approached the GFMD to conduct a survey of its members, partners, and other interested stakeholders to help inform the Fund’s priorities during its initial phase. This request followed a similar survey conducted by GFMD in 2019, which helped to shape the Fund’s establishment.
Since that time, much has changed, including the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a continuing rise in authoritarianism, and ever-increasing pressures on newsrooms. This updated survey aimed to reflect these changes, gathering additional input towards shaping discussions on the allocation, distribution, and management of funding during IFPIM’s first two years (more information can be found in the sections below). The survey was successful gathered 173 responses in the course of three weeks.
Report was prepared for GFMD by Cara Stern.

Main findings and recommendations

An underlying theme running through responses is how can the Fund make a unique contribution to the media community, by:
  • Supporting media with limited opportunities to receive funding from other sources.
  • Providing support in ways that other funders cannot or do not.
  • Expanding access to quality information for underserved audiences.
  • Prioritising countries and themes where other funders are less active.
  • Providing a buffer between funding and any one particular funder.
  • Leveraging the collective power of the Fund’s own contributors.
In maintaining neutrality in the face of often complicated and conflicting perspectives, the report does not intend to sway the difficult decisions the Fund must make in moving forward. However, based on survey responses and respondent comments, it does make a number of additional recommendations towards the Fund’s next steps:
Engage in targeted follow-up consultations: Nearly half of all respondents represented only two geograph- ic categories: organisations operating internationally and organisations operating in Sub-Saharan Africa. With the exception of organisations from Eastern Europe/Southeast Europe/Caucasus, all other regions represented less than 10% each. This may indicate a need for specific outreach to other regions and likely in local languages. Given the low response rate among donors, direct engagement may be necessary as well.
Explore a theory of change: Many additional comments by respondents indicated some lack of understanding about the goals of the Fund and what it will and will not do to achieve them. Articulating a theory of change and outlining the Fund’s vision of impact, along with a discussion of how success will be captured and communicated, may help strengthen understanding of the Fund’s scope and placate concerns about its parameters.
Ensure contextualisation: Throughout the survey, re- spondents repeatedly emphasised the importance of context. Many underscored that rigid frameworks are difficult to apply to the complex environments in which media often operate and that localised knowledge of ecosystems is key to identifying and selecting part- ners. Gap analyses may also be necessary to ensure that the Fund supports those most in need. Any even- tual parameters should maintain sufficient flexibility to provide for possibilities that don’t neatly fit into specific categories. This includes space for funding organisa- tions outside a traditional definition of media.
Continue to cultivate trust: The Fund’s credibility will be crucial to its success. At numerous points in the survey, respondents raised key principles that they believe should underpin its approach. These include transparency in decision-making, regular consultation and information sharing, an explicit do-no-harm policy, and dedicated security practises to protect contacts and partners at risk.
Develop contingency plans: As the last two years have demonstrated, the world continues to change and evolve in unprecedented and unimagined ways. New needs and opportunities will emerge, and current openings may close. The Fund should pursue an adaptive management approach that ensures ongoing monitoring of trends and developments, iterative learning, continuous feedback, and responsive adjustments.
Keep it simple: Amid the complexities in which the Fund will operate, responses from this survey, as well as previous GFMD studies, underscore a desire for the simplification of bureaucracy, particularly around application and reporting requirements. In the longer term, IFPIM may be in the position to lead a standardisation of such requirements across funders so that recipients can focus on their work rather than paperwork.

IMPACT of the survey:

Feb. 9 2022 - GFMD's Chair, Zoe Titus, presented the main findings of the IFPIM survey during the at the Global Conference for Media Freedom session "Scaling up Support to Independent Media".
8 April 2022 - GFMD's Chair, Zoe Titus, presented the main findings of the IFPIM survey during the at at a session at the Perugia International Journalism Festival: “The International Fund for Public Interest Media: where to from here?
Q1 & Q2 2022 - In the first half of 2022, leading up to IFPIM announcing its funding model and priorities at Unesco's World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2022, the GFMD IMPACT team held a number of briefing meetings and discussions with the IFPIM team.

Executive summary

For more information read the report executive summary here.