Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Newsonomics: On end games and end times
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.
Newsonomics: On end games and end times
Can publishers find a sustainable business model this new age of Facebook/Apple/Snapchat/Twitter/Google distributed content? And is local news destined to be left behind?
What Scribd’s growing pains mean for the future of digital content subscription models
It turns out that ebook subscription models don’t work very well when people read too much. So what happens next?
How research (and PowerPoints) became the backbone of National Journal’s membership program
“We no longer look at National Journal simply as a news source, but as a collection of resources, as well as a collection of experts we can turn to on occasion.”
What to read next
2843
tweets
A blow for mobile advertising: The next version of Safari will let users block ads on iPhones and iPads
Think making money on mobile advertising is hard now? Think how much more difficult it will be with a significant share of your audience is blocking all your ads — all with a simple download from the App Store.
1763For news organizations, this was the most important set of Apple announcements in years
A new Flipboard-clone with massive potential reach, R.I.P. Newsstand, and news stories embedded deeper inside iOS — it was a big day for news on iPhones and iPads.
762Newsonomics: 10 numbers that define the news business today
From video to social, from mobile to paywalls — these data points help define where we are in the “future of news” today, like it or not.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
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 ➚
West Seattle Blog
Connecticut Mirror
Grist
NBCNews.com
Vox Media
Politico
Lens
InvestigateWest
Examiner.com
Ann Arbor News
Seattle PostGlobe
MSNBC