Emergency & crisis funding
Evaluation and impact reports on emergency and crisis funding.
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European Journalism Centre (p7-8)

Takeaways and recommendations for running a crisis fund
  1. 1.
    The COVID-19 crisis and the various emergency funds set up in the last year have proven that it is possible for funders to provide unrestricted core funding to news organisations to sustain day-to-day operations. While project-specific funding has its own benefits and is not to be disregarded, funders should identify ways to make and keep core funding as part of their regular offering, and not just when a crisis strikes.
  2. 2.
    Providing core funding not only allows news organisations to keep the lights on and continue to inform their communities. It also gives organisations the time and breathing space to brainstorm and start developing new community engagement initiatives, or test additional revenue streams at their own pace, as we learned from some Fund grantees.
  3. 3.
    Well-defined eligibility and judging criteria, and a well-designed application and shortlisting process are key in ensuring that core funding goes to the applicants that need it most, and who have clear ideas for how the grant can benefit both their community and their organisation. This approach also provides reassurance to grantees that they are trusted to make their own decisions about their activities and solve their own problems, without having to overstretch to fit their work into specific project requirements.
  4. 4.
    Prompted by the pandemic and by the disappearance of advertising incomes, many grantees have been or are currently reviewing their business models and developing new income streams. However, it takes a longer time to implement these new initiatives strategically, and for them to start bringing in revenue – grantees expressed some concern that these pivots, while beneficial, will take too long to fill the current financial gaps, and said they still require grant funding support to tide them over while new revenue streams take hold.
  5. 5.
    Some grantees highlighted a lack of business strategy expertise (in areas such as leadership, product, revenue) among their staff, and even difficulties in finding suitable external consultants with the right mix of skills and understanding of newsrooms (especially in some CEE countries). Several Endurance Fund grantees reported that having timelines and clearly defined intermediate goals (defined internally and/or with support of external mentors) enabled them to spend the funds effectively and to accomplish their chosen initiatives. This shows that grants provided for pivots should provide, where possible, a complementary package of coaching and business development support for staff members (at least at the start of the grant period).
  6. 6.
    Low morale and mental health struggles were frequently expressed by grantees. Although funding can often provide temporary relief from the stress caused by uncertain financial circumstances, there is a wider issue around mental health to be addressed in the industry, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the pressure journalists and news organisations face to meet informational and reporting demands, combined with dwindling incomes, ongoing uncertainty of job stability and juggling work and personal life while working from home.
  7. 7.
    Feedback from some of the organisations that received Emergency Fund and Endurance Fund support in Wave 2 indicated that the funding period was too short, and it also included the winter holidays (where taking time off slowed down some activities and expenditure). In some cases, grantees were also challenged in implementing activities or spending the funding because of sickness, unforeseen technical issues or equipment delivery problems. In the future, we will ensure the funding period is the same across the different waves of funding (i.e five to six months in the case of this Fund) to maximise the potential for organisations to develop their initiatives.
  8. 8.
    Feedback from freelance journalists shows that concerns regarding the sustainability of the profession remain, as significant grant funding is not available to freelancers and the newsrooms that usually commission them are continuing to lose income. Going forward, there will be a need for additional funding for freelancers, as well as training and support mechanisms such as peer networks and resources to improve mental health. Some of this support is already available through initiatives like the Freelance Journalism Assembly run by the EJC, and the Society of Freelance Journalists global community.
EJC also published a blog post about the findings:
How funding journalism in a crisis has impacted journalists and their communities
Medium

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