Ethics & Practices Policies

Nonprofit newsrooms that are members of the Institute for Nonprofit News pledge to be transparent about the funding of their news operations and maintain editorial independence from all revenue sources to ensure news judgments are made in the interest of the communities they serve as journalists.

This commitment is reflected in two policies below. INN also asks members to post an equity and inclusion policy. A sample is found below.

Donor Transparency policies typically are included with donor solicitations and on donor pages; Editorial Independence policies may appear in more general “About Us” or similar sections. INN encourages all members to use these policies in whatever way is most applicable to your publications.

INN recommends publicly stating an equity and inclusion policy such as: “This news organization aims to reflect the diversity of the communities it serves in its staff and contributors, its editorial choices and priorities.”

Discuss them regularly with staff so they are part of the news and business culture throughout your publication, publish and reference them in public discussions of your work and share them with all supporters.

INN also encourages use of privacy, advertising and conflict of interest statements. Samples are provided below.

DISCLAIMER: The Institute for Nonprofit News (“INN”) is not a legal organization, and does not provide legal advice. The use of these materials is not a substitute for legal advice, and an attorney should be consulted with your use of the below materials. No Attorney-Client relationship is created by use of these materials.

Editorial Independence Policy

We subscribe to standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News:

Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services or opinions.

We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities, but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support.

Our organization may consider donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but our organization maintains editorial control of the coverage. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.

Our organization will make public all donors who give a total of $5,000 or more per year. We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization and in compliance with INN's Membership Standards.

Donor & Financial Transparency

We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization.

Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions.

We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals, organizations and foundations to help with our general operations, coverage of specific topics and special projects. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that operates as a public trust, we do not pay certain taxes. We may receive funds from standard government programs offered to nonprofits or similar businesses.

Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors or any revenue source. We do not give supporters the rights to assign, review or edit content.

We make public all revenue sources and donors who give $5,000 or more per year. As a news nonprofit, we avoid accepting charitable donations from anonymous sources, government entities, political parties, elected officials or candidates seeking public office. We will not accept donations from sources who, deemed by our board of directors, present a conflict of interest with our work or compromise our independence.

Other sample policies recommended by INN:

Disclosure examples from members

Disclosure: The Institute for Nonprofit News received a Paycheck Protection Program loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration during the coronavirus crisis.

Reveal on federal funds:
This disclaimer is at the end of their recent PPP story and will be included in future stories:

Disclosure: Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting sought a Paycheck Protection Program loan, which has been approved and disbursed.


This water explainer has a sponsor (because all of their explainers are monetized for one quarter at a time) AND the reporting has a philanthropic grant funder:

This explainer was supported by a grant from The Water Desk, an independent journalism initiative based at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for Environmental Journalism.

Their higher ed coverage is supported by the College Futures Foundation and that line is at the bottom of every story.

All of their philanthropic and major gift donors are also listed on its Supporters page.

The Conversation

Every article on The Conversation comes with a disclosure about the author (either that they have reported nothing or their sources of funding). On the desktop, it's in the right-hand navigation.

Funding disclosed:

Sample: Anne Cafer receives funding from Carnegie Foundation, Walmart Giving Foundation. Meagen Rosenthal receives funding from Walmart Giving Foundation, Eshleman Institute for Innovation: Discovery Grants Program, Mississippi Department of Health, UNC TraCS Institute (pilot grant).

Story about a funder with disclosure at the end of the text:

Sample: Nicholas Tampio does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. 

365 Media Foundation

Madison Community Foundation has been a funder of theirs, so any story they write about any of the foundations' funds or activities, they add a line at the end, like this:

Sample: MCF is also a funder of Madison365.

Wisconsin Watch

Wisconsin Watch's Policy on Financial Support requires them to be transparent about their funding. In addition to naming all donors on their Funding page, they include disclosures in stories or taglines when they determine that the public should be informed of their acceptance of support from a specific source, or when the public should be informed of conditions attached to the funding. They do this to protect the integrity of our journalism.

A few examples:

Within a story: Nevertheless, the myth of widespread voter fraud persists, especially among Republicans, according to the June PRRI/The Atlantic survey funded by the Joyce Foundation, which also supports the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s coverage of democracy issues.

Tagline: This story was produced as part of an investigative reporting class in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication under the direction of Dee J. Hall, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s managing editor. The Center's collaborations with journalism students are funded in part by the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment at UW-Madison.

Tagline involving a freelance journalist who also is a donor: Reporter Riley Vetterkind contributed to this report. Sheila Cohen, one of the authors, is also a donor to the nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (

Series landing page: The project was made possible by support from INN, with additional support from the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rigorous and compelling reporting about responses to social problems.

Other types of disclosures:

Salt Lake Tribune

Editor’s noteClint Betts serves on The Salt Lake Tribune’s nonprofit board of directors.

The Conversation's additional, non-fund related disclosure samples 

Various disclosures:

Sample: Gabriel Filippelli receives funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation and the American Chemical Society-Petroleum Research Fund Joseph D. Ortiz receives funding from NASA, the HW Hoover Foundation and the National Geographic Society. He is a participant in the Cleveland Water Alliance, which includes Kent State University. His spouse owns an environmental consulting firm, which is not involved in this project or his research.

Nothing to disclose:

Sample: Nikolay Anguelov does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

NOWCastSA on donation of in-kind office space

Here's how NOWCastSA discloses its relationship with the San Antonio Public Library, which has for 10 years provided NOWCastSA with office space:

Disclosure: The San Antonio Public Library is an in-kind financial supporter of NOWCastSA. A list of funders and donors can be viewed here

Equity and Inclusion

This news organization aims to reflect the diversity of the communities it serves in its staff and contributors, its editorial choices and priorities.

Privacy Policy

It is important to remember that visitors to our site understand what information we gather about them, how we use it, and how we work to protect it.  By using our website, and/or signing up for services such as membership or our newsletter, you consent to information practices outlined in our Privacy Policy.

Information Collection

We track how our visitors use this site so that we can see what people like and don't like. We also analyze and aggregate information about use patterns and share the aggregated data with our advertisers (for example, we keep track of how many users see and click on particular advertisements). We may also collect personal information about you via registration for newsletters, commenting, donations, membership and other areas. Where you have an opportunity to supply information about yourself you may choose not to provide requested information but in such cases you may not be able to use certain functions on this website.

We will not release your name, email address or any other personal information to anyone outside MEMBER WEBSITE without your consent, unless we are under a legal order to do so, or there is an emergency involving danger to a person or property. We will not provide our advertisers or anyone else outside MEMBER WEBSITE with any information specific to you unless we have your consent.

If you chose to provide your personally identifiable information for the purposes of a third-party contest, survey or newsletter, your consent shall be deemed to be given for the release of your personally identifiable information with regard to that third party only, in addition to MEMBER WEBSITE. Only authorized MEMBER employees or consultants are allowed access to personal information about you. Any employee or consultant who violates our privacy and security policies is subject to disciplinary action.

We occasionally have service contractors, third party agents, subsidiaries, affiliates, and joint ventures that perform functions on our behalf, including but not limited to credit card processing and website hosting. They have access to personal information needed to perform their functions, and are contractually obligated to maintain the confidentiality and security of the data. They are restricted from using or altering this data in anyway other than to provide the requested services to MEMBER WEBSITE. In addition, we may always share, disclose, and transfer all information, postings, and any and all other personal and non-personal information we have collected to a successor-entity in the case of the sale of the assets of MEMBER, corporate reorganization, merger, change in control, or other similar transaction.

Remember that any information you share in public areas, such as the MEMBER WEBSITE comments area, becomes public and therefore this Privacy Policy does not apply to any information you choose to make public. We encourage visitors to MEMBER WEBSITE to be cautious about what they disclose and that they do not post any personal information that they expect to keep private. Personally Identifiable Information is information that can be used to contact you or determine your specific identity.  If other information is linked to this information, it also becomes Personally Identifiable Information.

Use and Disclosure of Anonymous Information

Anonymous Information is any information other than Personally Identifiable Information, including aggregate information derived from Personally Identifiable Information.

MEMBER WEBSITE may use this information:
To improve the MEMBER WEBSITE website and service, to monitor traffic and general usage patterns, and for other general business purposes.

To inform publishers as to what content is appealing to readers, to inform advertisers of the usage habits or characteristics of the interested audience, and to advise potential donors so that they may better understand MEMBER WEBSITE’S user base.


A cookie is a small amount of data, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier that is sent to your browser from a web site's servers and stored on your computer. Each web site can send its own cookies to your browser if your browser's preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) most browsers only permit a web site to access the cookies that the same web site has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites.

MEMBER WEBSITE may use cookies to identify you as a repeat visitor or customer of the website, to maintain session information for logged in users, and to track usage trends and patterns in order to better understand and improve areas of our website.

MEMBER WEBSITE has no control over whether and how our advertisers use cookies that originate from their website. You are always free to decline our cookies if your browser permits, but you may not be able to take full advantage of our site's features.

We may use third-party advertising companies to serve ads on our behalf.  These companies may employ cookies and action tags to measure advertising effectiveness. All computers and servers on the internet use IP addresses to recognize and communicate with each other. We collect IP addresses to administer and analyze our site and report aggregate, non-personal information (such as how many visitors we have). When you call up our site on your computer, our servers enter the IP address of that computer into a log. To maintain our users' anonymity, we do not associate IP addresses with records containing personal information.

We do not and cannot use cookies or IP address tracking to retrieve personal information from your computer.


MEMBER WEBSITE employs a number of security methods designed to prevent unauthorized access, maintain data accuracy, and ensure correct use of information. Your personal data will be stored within a database that is located behind a firewall for added security.

No data transmission over the Internet or any wireless network can be guaranteed to be secure.  As a result, while we try to protect your personal information, we cannot ensure or guarantee the security of any information you transmit to us, and you do so at your own risk. We are not liable for the illegal acts of any third party.

We do not encrypt normal web sessions, however any transmission to the MEMBER WEBSITE website or service of credit card information uses SSL encryption to help protect the data.

Links to Other Sites

MEMBER WEBSITE provides links and pointers to Web sites maintained by other organizations. MEMBER WEBSITE provides these links as a convenience to users, but it does not operate or control such sites. MEMBER WEBSITE also disclaims any responsibility for the information on those sites and any products or services offered there, and cannot vouch for the privacy policies of such sites. MEMBER WEBSITE does not make any warranties or representations that any linked sites, or this site, will function without error or interruption, that defects will be corrected, or that the sites and their servers are free of viruses and other problems that can harm your computer.

Opt Out

If at any time you would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.


MEMBER WEBSITE is not directed to children (persons under the age of 13), and we do not knowingly collect, either online or offline, Personally Identifiable Information from children. If you believe that we have received information from a person under 13, please contact us by email at EMAIL ADDRESS or in writing at MAILING ADDRESS and we will take appropriate action.

Changes to this Privacy Policy

MEMBER WEBSITE may change its privacy policy from time to time.  If we make any changes regarding disclosure of Personally Identifiable Information to third parties, we will post notice of the new policy on our home page.

Disclaimers and Limitations of Liability



If you have any questions regarding our Privacy Policy or our use of your information, please email EMAIL ADDRESS.

Advertising Acceptability Policy

MEMBER reserves the right to accept or decline any advertisement or sponsorship it is offered.

MEMBER will decline to accept advertising that it knows or believes to be misleading, inaccurate, fraudulent or illegal, or that fails to comply, in MEMBER’s sole discretion, with its standards of decency, taste or dignity.

MEMBER, like all quality publishers of original journalism, maintains a clear separation between news and advertising content.  Advertising that attempts to blur this distinction in a manner that, in MEMBER’s sole judgment, confuses readers will be rejected.

Note: Conflict of Interest policies such as this are usually internal documents for staff and board members, but in the interest of transparency, INN recommends news organizations consider posting their conflict policies for public review as it provides readers with further insights into the ethics and news practices of your organization.

Conflict of Interest Policy

The following Financial Conflict of Interest Policy (“Conflict of Interest Policy”) is an effort (i) to ensure that the deliberations and decisions of the MEMBER ORGANIZATION FULL NAME (“MEMBER”) are made solely in the interest of promoting the quality of journalism in the state of MEMBER STATE (if applicable), and (ii) to protect the interests of MEMBER when it considers any transaction, contract, or arrangement that might benefit or be perceived to benefit the private interest of a person affiliated with MEMBER (each, a “MEMBER Representative”). As used in this Conflict of Interest Policy, a MEMBER Representative includes any director, advisory board member, financial advisor, legal counsel or employee.

  1. Duty to MEMBER. Each MEMBER Representative owes a duty to MEMBER to advance MEMBER’s legitimate interests when the opportunity to do so arises. Each MEMBER Representative must give undivided allegiance when making decisions affecting the organization. Similarly, MEMBER Representatives must be faithful to MEMBER’s nonprofit mission and are not permitted to act in a way that is inconsistent with the central goals of the organization and its nonprofit status.
  2. Gifts. No MEMBER Representative shall personally accept gifts or favors that could compromise his or her loyalty to MEMBER. Any gifts or benefits personally accepted from a party having a material interest in the outcome of MEMBER or its employees by a MEMBER Representative individually should be merely incidental to his or her role as an MEMBER Representative and should not be of substantial value. Any gift with a value of $250 or more, or any gifts with a cumulative value in excess of $250 received by an MEMBER Representative in any twelve-month period from a single source, shall be considered substantial. Cash payments may not be accepted, and no gifts should be accepted if there are strings attached. For example, no MEMBER Representative may accept gifts if he or she knows that such gifts are being given to solicit his or her support of or opposition to the outcome or content of any MEMBER publication.
  3. Conflicts of Interest. The following are examples of conflicts of interest which must be promptly disclosed to the MEMBER Board of Directors pursuant to Section 4 below by any MEMBER Representative with knowledge of such conflict of interest:
    • (a) any real or apparent conflict of interest between a donor or the subject of an MEMBER publication or report and an MEMBER Representative;
    • (b) an MEMBER Representative’s ownership of an equity interest in a person or entity that is or will be the subject of an MEMBER publication or report; and
    • (c) failure to disclose to MEMBER all relationships between the subject of any MEMBER publication or report and any MEMBER Representative or close relatives of the MEMBER Representative.
  4. Conflict Procedure:
    (a) If an MEMBER Representative or party related to an MEMBER Representative has an interest in any contract, action or transaction to be entered into with MEMBER, a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest exists. Any MEMBER Representative having knowledge that such a conflict of interest exists or may exist (an “Interested MEMBER Representative”) will so advise the Board of Directors promptly. An Interested MEMBER Representative will include in the notice the material facts as to the relationship or interest of the Interested MEMBER Representative in the entity proposing to enter into a contract, action or transaction with MEMBER.

(b) Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, the Board of Directors may authorize any committee appointed pursuant to the MEMBER by-laws (a “Committee”) to act in lieu of the Board of Directors in determining whether an action, contract or transaction is fair to MEMBER as of the time it is authorized or approved by the Committee.

(c) At any time that a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest is identified, the President of the Board or a Chair of the applicable Committee will ensure that such conflict of interest is placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable. The notice of such meeting of the Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will include, to the extent available when the notice is sent, a description of the conflict of interest matter to be discussed. By notice before the meeting or at the meeting, the directors on the board or the Committee, as applicable, will be advised that a vote will be taken at the meeting and that, in order to authorize the relevant contract, action or transaction, an affirmative vote of a majority of disinterested directors present at the meeting at which a quorum is present will be required and will be sufficient, even though the disinterested directors constitute less than a quorum of the Board of Directors or the Committee.

(d) Reasonable effort will be made to cause the material facts concerning the relationships between the individuals and MEMBER which create the conflict to be delivered to and shared with the members of the Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, prior to the meeting to enable the directors to arrive at the meeting prepared to discuss the issue. In the event it is not practicable to deliver the information prior to the meeting, it will be delivered to the directors at the meeting, and the directors can act upon the matter with the same authority as if notice had been given prior to the meeting.

(e) The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will invite all parties to the conflict of interest to attend the meeting, to make presentations and to be prepared to answer questions, if necessary. The Board or Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will also invite outside experts if necessary.

(f) At the meeting, providing a quorum is present, the conflict will be discussed to ensure that the directors present are aware of the issues and the factors involved. The interested directors may be counted for purposes of a quorum, even though they may not take part in any vote on the issues.

(g) The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, must decide, in good faith, reasonably justified by the material facts, whether the action, contract or transaction would be in the best interest of MEMBER and fair to MEMBER as of the time it is authorized or approved.

(h) All interested directors must abstain from voting and, if necessary, leave the room when the vote is taken.

(i) The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will maintain a written account of all that transpires at the meeting and incorporate such account into the minutes of the meeting and disseminate it to the full Board of Directors. Such minutes will be presented for approval at the next meeting of the Board of Directors and maintained in the corporate record book.

(j) To the extent that the conflict of interest is continuing and the contract, action or transaction goes beyond one (1) year, the foregoing notice and discussion and vote will be repeated on an annual basis.

Personal Loans. MEMBER may not loan to, or guarantee the personal obligations of, any MEMBER Representative.