Called the News Revenue Engine and launching early next year, the goal is to make it easier for mission-driven digital news outlets to convert casual readers into donors.
Among other features, the News Revenue Engine will integrate Stripe and Mailchimp, giving newsrooms tools to raise revenue and sync data with email marketing systems. It will provide more payment options through integrations with Google Pay, Apple Pay, Microsoft Pay and the ACH direct-debit process.
In addition, it delegates more control to membership managers so they can create fundraising pages, view reports against Hub client benchmarks and manage payments. It will also integrate with Salesforce, but this will not be required.
Organizations will receive free fundraising training, audience development consulting and support for these organizations’ crucial end-of-year fundraising efforts.
The Google News Initiative, which works with journalists, news organizations and entrepreneurs to drive innovation in the news industry, is a key partner in the effort.
Pilot participation will begin in mid-October with 11 digital newsrooms from across the United States, including Canopy Atlanta, Capital B, Detour Detroit, El Paso Matters, El Timpano, Fostering Media Connection, India Currents, Outlier Media, Southerly, The Current and The Objective.
One of the key reasons the Hub is building the News Revenue Engine is to cover more newsrooms, especially those serving communities of color and those in the early stages of development. The Hub’s most diverse class yet, the News Revenue Engine pilot includes 45% Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led organizations; 45% that serve BIPOC audiences; and 63% are startups that have been in business for five years or less.
“The news landscape is undergoing a constant state of change, resulting in closures and consolidations of existing players and the emergence of hundreds of mission-driven new enterprises,” said Daniel Craigmile, vice president of technology for News Revenue Hub, in a blog post. “Many of these early-stage digital newsrooms are resource-strapped, especially when it comes to technology and product development. With support from the Google News Initiative, the News Revenue Hub aims to correct this.”
The News Revenue Hub, based in San Diego, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization funded by individual donations, member fees, and foundation grants. It has helped more than 70 local, regional and national organizations crowdfund over $42 million since 2016.
Last year, Hub newsrooms averaged a 55% increase in member revenue and a 23% increase in email subscribers.
As part of its commitment to transparency, the News Revenue Engine technology is being developed publicly and released as open-source software, according to Craigmile. The process will chronicle pilot organizations, spotlight lessons learned and the impact made.