Donate to: The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting





Any new donations, or donations from lapsed donors, count toward a $20,000 match from the Maine Center’s largest funder, the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

Donate now to support this campaign. Every penny build capacity and sustainability for accountability journalism in the Pine Tree State.

Newsfunders summary for the prospective donor

We at Newsfunders had the chance to visit the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting a few years ago in their small office in the basement of the Maine statehouse in Augusta. Naomi Schalit, one of the Maine Center’s founders, conducted the tour, and recalled a time when there were 20 full-time reporters in the statehouse press wing, representing a wide variety of newspapers and news agencies.

Today there are just five full-time reporters left, and the Maine Center has become a critical bastion for statewide accountability reporting. Investigative journalism is hard, but the Pine Tree Watchdog is the real thing, working out of a tiny office with a minimal staff, and piles of talent and commitment.

See below for details on their reporting achievements, their media partners, and their guiding philosophy.

Coverage examples:

Media Partners:

Your support of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting doesn’t just benefit one single nonprofit news agency. Their reporting is shared with more than two dozen media partners statewide, including:

  • Sun Journal
  • Bangor Daily News
  • Times Record
  • Journal Tribune
  • Portsmouth Herald
  • The Ellsworth American
  • Mt. Desert Islander
  • The Forecaster
  • American Journal
  • Lakes Region Weekly
  • Sun Chronicle
  • The Reporter
  • Lincoln County News
  • York Weekly
  • York County Coast Star
  • St. John Valley Times
  • Boothbay Register
  • Fiddlehead Focus
  • Courier-Gazette
  • Camden Herald
  • The Republican Journal
  • Portland Press Herald
  • Morning Sentinel
  • Kennebec Journal
  • PenBay Pilot

Links to Donate and About pages:

Follow or subscribe to the Pine Tree Watchdog, publication of the Maine Center for Investigative Reporting:

Nonprofit & financial status:

      • 501c3 organization, Tax ID 27-2623867
      • 2014 Budget: $194,265


Vision: The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting will fulfill the responsibility of a free press in the American democracy by looking beneath the surface of Maine government and writing clearly and without fear or favor about what it discovers.

Mission: The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting will keep citizens informed about their government and their public servants through high-quality, independent investigative reporting that is published by media outlets across the state.

In recent years, most newspaper and broadcast news outlets in Maine have reduced newsroom staffs through layoffs, early retirements and attrition. One of the first victims is in-depth journalism — stories which often take one or more reporters “off the street” for weeks or even months.

Serious coverage of the electoral and legislative process has also suffered. In Maine, statehouse coverage has declined from about 20 year-round reporters in 1989 to 10 in 1999 to the current five.



Reportback: Making Contact’s “Immigrant Voices” campaign, October 2015

Newsfunders microphilanthropy experiment #2

(1) Summary

In October, Newsfunders ran its second public-awareness campaign, this time to drum up support a crowdfunded team of six immigrant journalists to cover how immigrants are participating in the 2016 election.

The benefitting news organization was Making Contact, a nationally syndicated public-interest radio program produced in Oakland, California.

The fund drive was part of a matching-gift program through the Beacon crowdfunding platform that doubled every dollar raised — with the catch being that the match would only apply if  Making Contact could hit a $20,000 minimum, thus netting $40K for their immigrant-voices program.

Making Contact succeeded in their crowdfunding campaign by a small margin, and promoted it heavily through its own networks, which produced the vast majority of the donations.

Newsfunders succeeded in generating a small number of donations, and also produced data about the number of people its outreach efforts accessed, and the actions they took.

The campaign used two strategies: personal referrals (via email) and social-media advertising (on Facebook).

(2) Strategy: Personal referrals (via email)

Personal referrals (via email) went to 21 individuals known by Newsfunders staff, and selected for their potential interest in both public-interest issues and immigration in particular.

A more general announcement of Making Contact’s fund drive went to the SF Bay Area’s Young Nonprofit Professionals Network email list, which is comprised of individuals interested in a variety of social issues, with a subset specifically interested in immigration and international issues.


  • Donations. Two individuals responded to the outreach email affirming that they donated to the campaign.

(3) Strategy: Social-media advertising (on Facebook)

Social-media advertising (on Facebook) included four boosted posts on the Newsfunders Facebook page, and one advertisement propagated in Facebook user feeds according to topic keywords such as “immigration,” “issues,” “elections,” etc.


  • Clicks. The combined Facebook ad campaigns sent 311 people to the Making Contact donor page on the Beacon crowdfunding site.
  • Reach/Impressions. 16,825 people total saw the Making Contact posts and ads on their feeds. These are branding opportunities; it should be noted that the Newsfunders logo (appearing since the ads were posted by Newsfunders) got as much exposure as the Making Contact content of each ad.
  • Whether the “dual branding” on Facebook produced confusion or curatorial leverage can’t at present be measured. It would be hoped that Newsfunders could be perceived as a reputable referrer for quality journalism. But since neither referrer nor beneficiary have particularly visible public brands, it seems likely that some confusion arose. Communicating the opportunity and building the respective brands of Newsfunders and its beneficiaries is a complex task that needs greater sophistication and more resources.
  • Conversions/Donations. Improper URL generation means we cannot identify how many conversions resulted from the 311 referrals Newsfunders sent to Making Contact’s Beacon crowdfunding page. Assuming a conversion rate of between 2 percent and 4 percent, and people giving either $10 or $25, it’s possible the Newsfunders Facebook campaign raised as little as $60 and as much as $300 for Making Contact.


  • The ads cost $113.22, which was provided for by a grant from the Harnisch Foundation.

(4) More about Making Contact

Making Contact is an Oakland, California-based public-interest radio program. It’s broadcast nationwide on more than 100 radio stations, and specializes in long-form coverage. Learn more about Making Contact and their October 2015 campaign.

(5) Major lessons

  • Be sure to properly implement UTM tagging in referral URLs, in order to track the number of people (we can’t tell who came, just how many) sent to nonprofit donor pages and identify any conversions.
  • Communicating the opportunity and building the respective brands of Newsfunders and its beneficiaries is a complex task that needs greater sophistication and more resources.

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Newsfunders is looking for more news nonprofits to showcase and promote! Do you have a nonprofit, public-interest news project that you think needs greater exposure to potential supporters and donors? Tell us all about it!