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Sept. 8, 2021, 11:06 a.m.
LINK: inn.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   September 8, 2021

When Mukhtar Ibrahim launched the nonprofit Sahan Journal in 2019, he hoped for it to be “a one-stop shop for all things about immigrants in Minnesota,” for an “audience [of] all Minnesotans.”

It was still an unproven concept; in addition to being its founder, Ibrahim was the site’s only employee at launch. He saw Sahan Journal as filling an unmet need — of having “a diverse angle of coverage,” he told me at the time, “which is different from diversifying the actual staff. Minnesota Public Radio, Ibrahim’s former employer, saw enough promise to provide substantial funding and support at launch.

Two years later, Ibrahim’s vision is being recognized. Sahan Journal now has 11 employees, Katie Hawkins-Gaar reported in a case study about Sahan Journal for the Institute for Nonprofit News released on Wednesday, and had raised $1.24 million in revenue as of July 2021 with an increasing percentage of that revenue coming from individual donors. The case study focuses a lot on the value of NewsMatch, the program that helps U.S. nonprofit news outlets in the U.S. with fundraising support and resources. Here are some other interesting bits:

— Say why you are unique. An early Sahan Journal newsletter signup box included the text “Telling stories that matter.” The new version is “Telling stories about immigrants and refugees you won’t find anywhere else.” That type of specific language is repeated in fundraising appeals and across social media. “As much as I love living in Minnesota and working in different areas as a pediatrician, I have always noticed that there is a lack of representation of the immigrant experience,” said donor Nusheen Ameenuddin, who had never made a donation to a news organization before Sahan Journal. “I hadn’t seen one source say that they are going to tell the stories of Minnesota’s immigrant population.”

— Don’t aim too low. Sahan Journal looks at past audience giving data to set its fundraising goals and works to make sure “make sure we’re never asking for too little, which is a big mistake that has been made in many nonprofit organizations,” said public media funding strategist Valerie Arganbright, who works on Sahan Journal’s fundraising.

— Support the surrounding community, too. When readers make monthly donations to Sahan Journal, Sahan Journal contributes some of that money to a Minneapolis-St. Paul food bank. “If you give $10 a month, it’s 10 meals; $15 a month, it’s 15 meals; $20, 20 meals. It’s a very simple message and it’s very effective,” Arganbright said.

You can read the case study here.

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