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March 17, 2014, 10:57 a.m.
Business Models
LINK: www.dmlp.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   March 17, 2014

The financial crisis and the attendant collapse of the newspaper business model led to the formation of a lot of new nonprofit news organizations, from big guns like ProPublica to lots of smaller local investigative reporting outfits. But it didn’t take long to figure out that the IRS was having trouble figuring out what to do with all these new applications for 501(c)(3) status. Delays grew from months to years (in the most extreme cases), and some were rejected outright.

But there’s been another shift recently: The IRS is speeding up and letting more news nonprofits through in a timely fashion. Yay! That doesn’t mean it’s suddenly become an dead-simple process to navigate, though.

Which is where our friends down the street at the Digital Media Law Project come in: They’ve just released a new set of guides and tools to help news orgs figure out if nonprofit status is right for them and, if so, how best to go about obtaining it:

None of these resources is intended to allow a journalism non-profit to go it alone; with all that has happened at the IRS, the agency process is too tangled for a news venture to expect success without professional assistance. These resources will help journalism ventures to better understand what the agency is looking for, so that they can adjust their operations properly and be prepared to work with an attorney.

The guide includes this nifty video that explains the state of play today — important viewing for anyone thinking about going down this path:

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