During Thursday’s “Funding Journalism Projects with Spark” session, attendees learned key strategies for funding their passion projects.
Support for survivors and victims of tragedies. Mental health and suicide prevention for veterans. Fellowship programs for multimedia reporters. And more.
Spark, a program under communications nonprofit, Wildfire Media, trains journalists and creatives and provides them with the tools they need to research, develop, and pitch their own fundraising campaigns. Unlike other programs that award funding, Spark helps people and organizations apply for funding.
Jamie Rose, chief operating officer of Momenta Group, which owns Wildfire Media, presented attendees with some of the fundraising strategies Spark provides.
“When you’re asking for this much money, it’s got to be a part of a larger plan,” she said. “You can’t just expect this to happen.”
Those who enroll in the Spark program can take several different classes in grant and budget training. While the program is designed to take 12 weeks, it is entirely self-paced. Some of the strategies Spark explored included assessing whether or not a project is logical, feasible, and timely; how to develop a project statement, artist statement, and letter of intent; and where to go for public, private, and personal funding sources.
She stressed that journalists don’t have to work on these projects alone. They should take more advantage of the opportunities they have working collaboratively. “We all team up together,” she said. “But whenever we talk about projects, we’re like, ‘What can I do by myself?’ Project funding is a marathon … it’s not a value judgment if you say, ‘I don’t have the time right now.’”
The advice was helpful for media professional, David Guarino, a session attendee.
“I’ve got four pages of notes I have to digest,” he said.
As founder and president of the Boston-based nonprofit, Survivors Say, Guarino has worked directly with survivors and victims of tragic events to help them navigate the media landscapes they face in the aftermath. While he’s already started his dream project, he says the presentation gave him aha moments that reflected parts of his journey.
“There was a long period where I wanted to do this and didn’t have the bandwidth,” Guarino said. “That kind of feedback [from Rose] was really helpful and resonated with me … it wasn’t surprising so much as affirming.”
Still, he said that Survivors Say will benefit from Spark’s strategies.
“We’ve proven the concept,” he said. “Now we take that funding to the next level.”
Rose said that Spark was never even meant to be an extensive training program, but rather, a small-scale client service.
“Our goal, with Spark, was only to do the [training] cohorts,” she said. “We had to expand that. We realized we had to fulfill our mission of public education.”
As for what’s most challenging, Rose told The SPJ News that, besides getting organized, journalists need to unlearn what they’ve been taught about funding.
“We’ve framed journalists and universities to think of funding through publications and not think, ‘How can I find funding myself?’” she said. “You don’t have to rely on publications.”
More information on Spark, including its blog series’, Funding Alerts and Funding Dictionary, can be found on Wildfire Media’s website.