Back to top

The Chronicle of Philanthropy Unveils Ambitious Growth Plan To Put National Spotlight On Social Sector, Become Nonprofit

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Press release

Nearly $6 million in new grant commitments will support innovation, growth, and impact

May 4, 2022 (Washington, DC) – To maximize its impact and better serve the growing and diverse social sector, The Chronicle of Philanthropy (CoP) today announced it plans to become an independent nonprofit organization. Since its founding in 1988, the publication has been owned by The Chronicle of Higher Education Inc., a private, for-profit company.

“The Chronicle of Philanthropy is taking a major leap forward in how we serve nonprofits and foundations,” said Stacy Palmer, who helped found CoP in 1988 and will become executive director of the new nonprofit organization. “We are boldly reimagining our mission to both amplify our role as a trusted source of information for social sector professionals but also to double down on our collaboration with other global news outlets to ensure the public better understands the trillion-dollar world of nonprofits and foundations.”

“We believe the nonprofit world must play an essential role in rebuilding our nation amid the pandemic, economic and racial inequality, spiking gun violence, and high inflation, threats to democracy, and hyper-partisanship across the political spectrum,” Palmer said. “By expanding our staff and lifting ambitions, we can help overcome the problems that have deprived nonprofits of the resources, tools, and talent they need to change the world.”

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, which reaches a loyal and influential audience of 338,000 monthly across print, online, and newsletter channels, is well positioned for accelerated growth and innovation. In addition to its partnerships with other news organizations, CoP will greatly expand its coverage and analysis of the social sector, offering indispensable information and practical advice to nonprofit professionals, foundation executives, board members, development staff, and other changemakers. CoP plans to:

  • Expand its explanatory journalism to shed light on the results of philanthropy’s biggest projects, taking readers inside major efforts by donors and foundations so they can understand what it takes to succeed – and why some innovations fail.
  • Ensure that philanthropic investments, trends, and results across diverse communities receive the attention and analysis they deserve.
  • Build a “public commons” for debate on essential issues in philanthropy, expanding the range of contributors and viewpoints shared in its opinion essays and live briefings with the goal of advancing pluralism at a time of polarization.
  • Organize more live events that connect readers with experts and peers and offer its storytelling in a range of formats designed to connect readers with news, insight, and advice in ways that are tailored to their preferences for learning and that put a priority on accessibility.
  • Develop new partnerships with news outlets and journalists to ensure that Americans have greater access to information about nonprofits in their communities and across the nation.
  • Expand its tools for professional development and learning for nonprofit professionals, building on the success of its much-praised webinars.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy took its first step in this expanded mission over the past year through a collaboration with the Associated Press and the Conversation, which added five AP and CoP journalists to cover the nonprofit world and created a new yearlong fellowship program for local and regional news organizations that want to learn how to better cover the social sector. This collaboration is supported by a grant from the Lilly Endowment.  

To support its expansion of content and services, CoP will add at least 13 new staff positions, including at least eight new editorial staff, and expand its technology and business teams. It plans to double revenue and subscribers within five years, significantly growing its reach and social impact.

“For more than three decades, The Chronicle of Higher Education has supported and collaborated with The Chronicle of Philanthropy, though the two serve distinct audiences with increasingly different missions and information needs,” said Pamela Gwaltney, Chair of the Board of Directors of The Chronicle of Higher Education Inc. “Both publications are in strong financial and editorial positions, so the time is right for CoP to chart its own future. Our Board is enthusiastic and optimistic about the path ahead for both organizations.”

CoP has already received grant commitments of nearly $6 million to support its new mission and growth from private philanthropies, including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation ($3 million), Ford Foundation ($2 million), Charles Stewart Mott Foundation ($500,000), Walton Family Foundation ($200,000), John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($100,000), Conrad N. Hilton Foundation ($75,000), and The Heinz Endowments ($50,000).

CoP will maintain a strict separation between its fundraising and its journalism to ensure integrity and objectivity for all news and analysis. It will continue to be transparent about the funding it receives. In consultation with experts in the field, CoP is expanding its existing gift-acceptance and ethics policies, in line with best practices in the field, to ensure total editorial independence and prevent conflicts of interest as it makes the transition from a for-profit business to a charitable organization. With the growth in nonprofit newsrooms over the past few years and the success of their journalism, it is more important than ever for CoP to play a leadership role in demonstrating transparency to readers around how coverage decisions are made.

The new nonprofit CoP, which awaits an official determination of 501(c)(3) status by the Internal Revenue Service, will be governed by an independent board of directors led by Trabian Shorters, CEO and founder of BMe Community. Shorters is a retired tech entrepreneur, former vice president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and a board member of the Solutions Journalism Network and DonorsChoose. Other founding board members include Ana Marie Argilagos, president and CEO, Hispanics in Philanthropy; Amanda Barrett, vice president and head of news audience, Associated Press; and Anna Nirmala, vice president of portfolio success, American Journalism Project. Also serving on the board are The Chronicle of Higher Education Inc.’s Chair of the Board of Directors Pamela Gwaltney and President and Editor in Chief Michael Riley.

“For our democracy to thrive, we need to spotlight the people of varied backgrounds, beliefs, and faiths who are solving problems, bridging divides, and advancing real change in their communities and across the nation,” said Shorters. “Yet today’s highly polarized media environment makes it increasingly difficult to find that productive content. That’s why it is so important and exciting that The Chronicle of Philanthropy is deeply committed to spotlighting the work of the social sector for the benefit of all.”

Find More By
Funding Area 
Areas of Focus