HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Take two steps back from journalism: What are the editorial products we’re not building?
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Nov. 1, 2012, 1:30 p.m.

Nonprofit, for-profit, and all the shades in between: How to choose what kind of civic-minded news organization to start

A scholar at Harvard’s Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations runs through the options and how to evaluate them.

How to structure the organizations that produce journalism used to be a pretty simple question. Phase 1: Start a for-profit corporation. Phase 2: ? Phase 3: Profit!.

But as business models shift — and as nonprofit journalism continues to take up a larger (and more valuable) piece of the media pie — aspiring media moguls have an array of business entities available to choose from. A not-for-profit 501(c)3? A for-profit S corp or an LLC? A socially conscious B Corp? An L3C? A nonprofit that spawns a for-profit? In Delaware or in your home state? A 501(c)3 that starts its own 501(c)4? The options are dizzying; each comes with its own set of obligations and drawbacks, and many live at awkward intersections of state and federal law.

That’s why I’m glad our friends at Harvard’s Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations asked Marion Fremont-Smith to speak about:

the advantages and disadvantages of seeking tax exempt status and alternative forms for new enterprises. She will summarize both state and federal requirements for tax exempt organizations, and considerations when undertaking to seek such status, including governance requirements and considerations when choosing fiduciaries.

We’ve spoken with her before about these questions, but here she runs through the issues someone planning a new organization should be considering — and there are some interesting questions from the audience, starting 44 minutes in.

Her focus here isn’t limited to news organizations, but the lessons are highly applicable. The issues may be a little arcane to someone who isn’t in startup mode — but if you are, but it’s worth a listen. It might even save you a billable hour or two.

Note: Not much happens in the video, visually speaking, so if you just want the audio, here’s an MP3.

POSTED     Nov. 1, 2012, 1:30 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Take two steps back from journalism: What are the editorial products we’re not building?
“Imagine all the wildly different services you could deliver with a building full of writers and developers.”
Newsonomics: The Financial Times triples its profits and swaps champagne flutes for martini glasses
The FT is a leader in crossing over from print — digital subscribers now make up 70 percent of its paying audience, a number that keeps growing.
A farewell to #content: Optimism, worries, and a belief in great work
A few thoughts on the state of media (and meta-media) from our departing staff writer.
What to read next
750
tweets
Snapchat stories: Here’s how 6 news orgs are thinking about the chat app
From live events to behind-the-scenes tours, The Huffington Post, Fusion, Mashable, NPR, Philly.com, and The Verge tell us how they’re approaching Snapchat.
611New rules governing drone journalism are on the way — and there’s reason to be optimistic
They’re more permissive than some had expected: “Under this regulatory framework, every newsroom will have drones and people certified to fly them. They’ll just be part of the equipment.”
483Internet birthed the radio star: Local newspapers are hoping online radio can be a growth area
Despite slow audience and revenue growth, a handful of newspapers are optimistic about the future of Internet radio.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
PolitiFact
Seattle PostGlobe
Los Angeles Times
The Daily Beast
Center for Public Integrity
Ushahidi
The Huffington Post
Amazon
Craigslist
Neighborlogs
Wired
CBS News