Still struggling to put its American operations on a firm financial footing, the Guardian is taking a page from its UK playbook and launching a nonprofit, theguardian.org, with the mission of supporting its independent (generally left-leaning) journalism.
The new U.S. nonprofit organization was created by the Scott Trust, the British nonprofit that controls the large charitable endowment that supports the Guardian’s home operations in Britain.
According to the publisher, theguardian.org will raise funds from individuals and organizations to fund journalism on key issues, such as climate change, global development and human rights.
Theguardian.org has already raised $1 million from a number of sources, the newspaper boasted, including the Skoll Foundation, which is supporting a series on climate change in America; Humanity United, which supported an ongoing series on modern slavery; and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, in support of a range of journalism on early childhood development.
The nonprofit, which is overseen by an independent board of directors, will also partner with other organizations such as universities and think-tanks to explore these issues and advance the causes of press freedom and civic participation.
The Guardian has relationships with a number of philanthropic donors, including big names like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which supports the Guardian’s site devoted to Global Development. The Ford Foundation supports reporting on women’s rights and inequality, and the Rockefeller Foundation supports the Guardian’s site devoted to Cities.
The nonprofit launch comes amid the publication’s well-publicized financial troubles, which have prompted a far-ranging cost-cutting strategy combined with a new focus on paid memberships for readers.
For the financial year ending April 2, 2017, Guardian Media Group’s revenues increased by 2% to £214.5 million, or $280 million at current exchange rates. The company slashed total costs by 7% to £259.2 million, or $338 million.
However, GMG appears to be gaining traction with its “paid memberships,” which differ from subscriptions, in that they are strictly voluntary. The Guardian has made a point of not erecting a paywall or metered access system for its Web site, leaving it free for all visitors.