In November of 2012, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies hired Christine Martin to head its new foundation and to increase philanthropic support for the institute. This came on the heels of a report by the Tampa Tribune revealing that the Tampa Bay Times, the institute’s traditional funding source, could no longer finance its parent organization. “These have been difficult times,” said Poynter president Karen Dunlap.
But until now, it was not clear just how difficult times are for Poynter.
According to the latest financial disclosures gleaned from Poynter’s Form 990 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, the Poynter Institute lost $3.815,144 during 2011, the last year for which information is available. This is a dramatic loss compared to the year before, when Poynter found itself in the red to the tune of just $109,206.
Poynter’s latest Form 990, for whatever reason, was not available online until just recently. In fact, it’s 2011 report was not available on GuideStar (an online repository for philanthropic and nonprofit financial reporting) until after inquiries were made by this blog as part of reporting related to the passing earlier this month of Times publisher Eugene Patterson.
This new report outlines the perilous position Poynter finds itself as it attempts to wean itself from the nourishing contribution provided by the Tampa Bay Times.
Poynter’s current annual budget includes revenue streams from tuition payments from the classes it offers, as well as grants from foundations and local fund-raising drives. A periodic “dividend” from the Times normally helps close the gap.
Reviewing Poynter’s 2011 Form 990, it would appear that periodic dividend from the Times did not materialize. Where Poynter’s investment income in 2010 amounted to over $4.5 million, in 2011 it totaled just $989,828. ***Update***As Poynter’s Julie Moos also notes, 2011 was likely the first year Poynter did not receive any moneys from proceeds or sales of previously held publications Congressional Quarterly or Governing.
Despite its current difficulties, the Poynter Institute certainly has the resources to see itself through this downturn. According to the financial disclosure, Poynter has over $45 million in net assets or fund balances.
Material from the Tampa Tribune was used in this post.