Membership in News Fund for Newsrooms Worldwide ($400,000 in grant)

Application Deadline:November 6, 2020 5 p.m. ET

Membership Puzzle Project and Media Development Investment Fund are excited to announce the reopening of the Membership in News Fund, a global fund to catalyze membership design in newsrooms around the world.

The Membership in News Fund provides financial and venture support to help news organizations build strong and flexible relationships with their audience members that can drive greater sustainability and impact – and help expand the journalism field’s understanding of what works. 

Membership Puzzle Project first launched the Membership in News Fund in 2018. The $700,000 fund supported 23 membership experiments in 13 countries with grants between $10,000 and $60,000 each. Grant recipients received funding, targeted coaching, and an opportunity to join a global community of practice built around membership

The 2020 fund totals $400,000, and we will give a maximum award of $40,000 per proposal. Applicants will be asked to propose a grant amount that is commensurate with the cost of implementing their proposal. Based on the size of our fund and the level of venture support that MPP and MDIF intend to provide to selected proposals, we anticipate selecting no more than 15 proposals.


  • Applications from sites that publish coverage that is local/place-based; national (and with further reach); and subject matter/topical.
  • We’ll consider relevant projects from non-profit, for-profit, and cooperatively owned news organizations.
  • There is a strong preference for proposals from the following countries where Luminate already supports independent media: Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, India, and Myanmar. However, strong applications from other countries where MDIF works in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe are also eligible.
  • Eligibility is determined based on what you cover, where your primary audiences live, and/or where the majority of your staff is based, rather than the country your entity is officially registered in. (This is because MPP and MDIF understand that it can be challenging for news organizations to register in the countries they cover.)
  • If you have additional questions about eligibility after reviewing the full list of eligible countries, contact fund director Ariel Zirulnick at [email protected].

To be eligible for consideration for the Membership in News Fund, a media organization must also meet these Media Development Investment Fund criteria: 

  • have a reputation for providing unique, credible, independent news, information or debate in the public interest; 
  • produce a significant amount of content that (a) is news and information and/or (b) provides a range of political opinions and promotes informed societal debate. The applicant must be independent from the government or of any other interest group;
  • have a record consistent with fostering democratic practices and institutions, political pluralism, transparency, human rights, and dignity and equal rights for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion and other subjects of discrimination; 
  • be legally registered according to all applicable laws;
  • have no part owned by a government or state agency, a foreign legal entity or any political or economic interest. This restriction may be waived where the applicant’s editorial independence is not in question.

Your proposal could be a good fit for the Membership in News Fund if:

  • Membership is part of your organization’s sustainability and engagement strategy. You may ask community members for money, but you also encourage supporters to participate meaningfully in making the site work and making its journalism better. In other words, even if revenue generation is a key component of your proposal, applications that are a pure fundraising play are not a good fit.
  • Your organization is operationally ready to pursue a membership strategy. If your proposal is selected, you should be prepared to begin work in early 2021. MPP sunsets in August 2021, and we are looking to support projects that can make meaningful progress in a six-month time window. In other words, you should be able to say “yes” – or see a pathway to being able to say “yes” – to MPP’s nine questions to ask yourself before pursuing a membership strategy
  • Your organization has experience working alongside community members –
    or you are enthusiastic about bringing this way of working to your organization. 
  • You are excited about the prospect of joining a global community of practice and research effort. You should understand that doing so requires a high level of transparency about what’s working and what isn’t, plus a willingness to share that with the journalism industry. (See our Membership Guide to better understand our practical research style.)

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the Membership in News Fund



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