Knight Foundation Plays The Challenge Grant Card

By Noah J. Nelson (@noahjnelson)

It always surprises me when people seem agog at the very concept of crowdfunding. It is as if that individual has never watched Sesame Street or heard of NPR.

At it's heart the crowdfunding model is a twist on the public media one. Heck, you might even wind up with a tote bag.

There's one component of the public media model that tends not to show up all that often: challenge and match grants. These are the parts of pledge drives where an donor--usually an institution--sets up a goal and promises to kick in a set amount of cash if that goal is reached.

This is what the Knight Foundation--one of the pillars of journalism--is now bringing to Kickstarter.

The organization has started a pilot program with with two new campaigns.

That's why we're excited to launch our curated page and matching support for our grantees who run successful campaigns. In many cases, finding backers is more valuable for projects than is raising more money; a loyal, energetic community can propel future work beyond the current project. To that end, our support is structured to encourage more backers-- we're giving small grants to these projects as their campaigns hit 100, 250, 500 and 1,000 backers, up to $10,000 (our contribution is to the project, not to the Kickstarter campaign). In the past, we've found that matching funds can help projects accelerate their work more quickly.

One of the campaigns is from the investigative journalism group ProPublica, who are looking to dig into the Intern Economy. For anyone who has blanched at how much free labor is being exploited by cash rich corporations this is a campaign to watch. If they get 250 backers then knight will kick in $2,500 dollars.

Originally published on, a digital information service surfacing emerging stories in news, entertainment, art and culture; powered by award-winning journalists.