Between late 2019 and early 2021, newsroom partners of SJN worldwide generated over $2.7 million in connection with solutions journalism. That indicates an upward trend compared with the average amounts we’ve seen in the previous seven years since SJN was founded.

News organizations are finding more and more opportunities to leverage their solutions reporting to help bring in money. As you’ll see from examples cited here, this playbook will show you how different types of newsrooms from across the nation have leveraged their solutions reporting for financial support.


In our initial pilot project, which was designed to help us understand the link between solutions journalism and revenue, the vast majority of financial support the newsrooms received came from grants. But some newsrooms also received support through sponsorships and individual donors, which we think showed great potential going forward.

While tracking small-dollar donations and reader revenue has proved more difficult, studies and a few standout examples show the promising traction solutions journalism can have with audiences.

For newsrooms that want to raise money tied to their solutions reporting, the first step is to identify which revenue stream makes most sense to pursue as a priority. Here are some questions to ask when deciding which strategy to pursue:

Assessing organizational strengths:

  • What business development skills and experience do you have on your team?
  • How successful have previous attempts at generating revenue been? Are there lessons you can apply to refine your strategies?
  • Based on your capacity and experience, which revenue stream is most suited to your current operation?
  • Which specific revenue stream do you see as a priority that also aligns with fulfilling your missions?
  • What interest and expertise do your staff members have in growing specific revenue streams?
  • What needs to happen within your organization to align everyone’s roles to attain your revenue objectives?
  • Do you have the means to support a new role dedicated to developing your revenue strategy? If not, what steps could you take to achieve that?

Strength of relationships with financial stakeholders:

  • What does the market of potential financial backers look like for each possible revenue stream?
  • Is your audience large enough to attract a threshold of reader revenue that meets your needs? How loyal is your audience to your news organization? Do you have a sense of their interest in providing financial support?
  • Are there local foundations in your area? Do you know people there?
  • Do you know businesses that regularly donate to local causes or institutions and that you could also reach out to?
  • Is there a culture of philanthropy and individual giving in your community to help you develop relationships with major donors?

The following sections look at strategy ideas, case studies and resources that can help you understand what resources and capacity will be needed to answer these questions. They will showcase pathways to leverage your solutions journalism for revenue.


To track and quantify how much revenue was connected to solutions journalism, the Solutions Journalism Network used the criteria below:


Grants / UnderwritingReference to and commitment to producing solutions journalism in grant applications, negotiations and/or contracts
Major donor philanthropy    Donor made aware of intent to use money to support production of solutions journalism
SponsorshipReference to and commitment to producing solutions journalism in negotiations and/or contract
Reader revenue (subscriptions, membership, small donations)Financial support from readers after seeing a solutions story or a solutions-focused call to action in a newsletter or on social media