A free-floating freelance incubator like BINJ is sustainable because it is infinitely flexible, able to transform into whatever it needs to be for whichever partners need us at a given time.
We run a lean operation with significant barter deals for everything from event and office space to merchandise, and our team produces and disseminate as much media as our resources allow us.
With the roughly $100,000 we raised in each of our first two years, we have been able to produce nearly two dozen investigative features, in excess of 100 columns, and multiple community engagement events. In Boston we raise money with the tagline, “When you give to nonprofit journalism, you help all of your favorite causes at the same time.”
Such messaging, as well as some of our specific programs and tactics, appears to also be working for some other incubator models leveraging the BINJ approach, leading us to increasingly believe that small nomadic shops like ours can sprout up almost anywhere and live long and prosper.
It's important to remember that you are a media maker, as are the people in your orbit. We use every chance we get to remind people about BINJ—from including graphics like the one above with donate links on every article that BINJ produces, and by writing notes to readers like the following letter we published through our partners at DigBoston. Note how it also includes an invite to a public engagement event:
I may be writing this column on Giving Tuesday, but that’s really just a neat coincidence, since I already had some news on the nonprofit front to share with you. As regular DigBoston readers know, a little more than three years ago some of us long-suffering independent media types started the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism (BINJ) to boost reporting in the region. Our basic mission was to raise funds to do the kind of reporting that is rarely being done these days, particularly at the local level. In 2018 in Mass, a lot of small and community newspapers, including the Dig, are able to survive and even thrive, but more than ever we can use some extra gas in our tanks.
As one of the people who has learned how to ask people for money for journalism, I am proud to say that we’ve succeeded beyond anything we initially dreamed. BINJ has raised in excess of $200,000 since 2015, and with that we have produced more than 100 features, several hundred columns, and multiple public engagement events each year. Whether you’re familiar with our work or not, I ask that you check out our new clearinghouse website, binjonline.org, which packs in almost everything that we have published through several partner outlets, from El Planeta, to the Shoestring and the Valley Advocate in Western Mass, to Worcester Magazine and, yes, DigBoston.
I won’t overexplain why BINJ hasn’t had its own site until now. Basically, the reporting we do through the nonprofit isn’t a direct-to-consumer product; we’re trying to help publications, not draw traffic away from them. At the same time, in the process of loading content onto the BINJ site and rereading old features and columns it became clear that our supporters, as well as the general public, will only stand to benefit from having our output stockpiled safely in one place. When you’re perusing the critical work we have done—stories on everything from healthcare to immigration to sports—imagine for a second that we hadn’t had the opportunity to do that journalism. What if those stories, and the impact and exposure they led to, never existed?
Moving forward, we hope to do much more, and we’ll need you to please consider us in this season of giving. When you help independent media, it’s like helping all your favorite causes at once. And finally, whether you can help financially or not, we can use a hand researching our latest project. Check the details below.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
WHAT: Are you interested in doing serious journalism? Want to work with our team? Come join BINJ, MuckRock, and the Emerson Engagement Lab at this open newsroom to help us dig through public records related to police militarization and gun sales in Mass.
WHEN: Monday, Dec 10, 5-8pm
WHERE: encuentro 5, 9 Hamilton Place, Boston
*Laptop or smartphone not required but could come in handy. Session will feature introduction and instruction plus hands-on research in which attendees can contribute to our ongoing investigation into firearm sales in the Commonwealth.