Guiding principles: useful, informative, responsive

Every day I make dozens of small decisions about what I think constitutes excellent nonprofit journalism. We all do. Editors, writers, readers, all of us. We decide what work we value with our time. What we ignore.

In that decision-making, we prioritize some principles over others. I prioritize journalism that is: useful, informative, and responsive. Luckily, this work can also create new fundraising opportunities.


  • Do journalism that gives readers information they need. The content is offered in the format that best suits readers' needs and best suits that type of information.
  • Offer information in a way that is easy to understand and use.
  • Connect readers directly with existing resources, scholarship, and reporting, rather than replicating that work.


  • Offer analysis, data, insight, and commentary that builds on and goes beyond what is available from other publications. A depth of knowledge allows us to offer context and explanation that may be missing from other reporting.
  • Cover issues that other publications do not cover. 
  • Prioritize reporting that is impactful within the communities we cover and in broader policy discussions.


  • Listen. Answer questions. Create ways to find out who our audience is, what they need and want, and how they use information. 
  • Give readers multiple ways and platforms to engage with us and each other, and share information.
  • Be nimble. Be able to respond quickly to suggestions and new information. 
These guiding principles can also create fundraising opportunities:
  • Events allow readers to engage with topics in a new way, and sponsorships are a possible funding stream. Repackaging archive content is another way to share content, and could be underwritten.
  • Depth of knowledge is a commodity. Traditional publishing activities are not the only way to share it. We could explore offering research, social media, and other expertise to other organizations.
  • As readers are more engaged, they have more opportunities to connect with the organization in new ways. And that engagement can grow to membership, donations, and other types of support and volunteering.


Feedback very welcome both on the principles themselves and how to guide excellent work in an industry with limited resources and, often, with a lack of clarity and vision.