Funding Media, Strengthening Democracy

Grantmaking for the 21st Century

Mary Albon and Peter B. Kaufman

March 2010, 68 pages. Grantmakers in Film + Electronic Media, 2406 Fairmount Ave, Baltimore, MD, 21244, 410-675-4024,

In 2009, Grantmakers in Film + Electronic Media (GFEM) enlisted Intelligent Television (INT) to help it design a research agenda and survey instruments for capturing the types and amounts of funding the U.S.-based foundations, government agencies, and other charitable organizations put toward media content, infrastructure, and policy. INT prepared a detailed survey and invited over 900 executives and program officers at foundations and funding agencies to complete it. Additional phone and in-person interviews, including a roundtable discussion and a seminar, provided the data from which GFEM issued a list of recommended actions for funders in all fields:

  • Acknowledge the prevalence and impact of media.
  • Identify additional common traits across philanthropy.
  • Create and support new and flexible funding structures.
  • Support the development of new, networked media production and distribution systems.
  • Utilize and advocate for open technology.
  • Communicate and collaborate with colleagues within your foundation and across the philanthropic sector.
  • Collaborate to create a comprehensive platform for information sharing.
  • Acknowledge the pervasiveness of media funding. (INT found that public and private grantmakers put an estimated $3 billion toward the support of media in 2008.)
  • Undertake new efforts to measure the impact of media grantmaking.
  • Recognize that media reinforces philanthropic missions.

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