The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization that is primarily funded through grants from foundations and donations from individuals and corporations. Additional revenue is obtained through sponsorships of its events and activities, and from earned income — payments for providing services such as fact-checking, collaborating with students or producing investigative journalism projects.
More than 350 individuals, foundations, news organizations and other groups have contributed financially to the Center since its launch in 2009.
As a matter of policy, funders exercise no control over the Center’s editorial decisions, and all funders are publicly identified.
The Center’s first major grant, a gift of $100,000 in general support, was awarded by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation in 2009.
The Oklahoma-based foundation continued to support the Center with grants of $100,000 in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015; $75,000 in 2016; $50,000 in 2017 and 2018.
In 2010, the Center received a two-year $75,000 matching grant from Challenge Fund for Journalism VI, a joint program of the Ford Foundation in New York, the McCormick Foundation in Illinois and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. The Center successfully completed a campaign to raise those matching funds in 2011.
The Foundation to Promote Open Society, which works in cooperation with the Open Society Foundations in New York City, awarded the Center general support totaling $50,000 in 2009, $100,000 in 2010 (to be spread over two years), $35,000 in 2011, $350,000 in 2012 (to be spread over two years), $350,000 in 2014 (over two years) and $200,000 in 2016.
In 2013, The Joyce Foundation became a major supporter of the Center. The Chicago-based foundation awarded a $100,000 grant that was split by the Center and MinnPost, a nonprofit news organization, to support in-depth coverage of key issues in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The grant funded coverage of political reform, environmental protection and gun violence issues in Wisconsin, as well as political reform in Minnesota. In 2014, Joyce awarded the Center $50,000 to support coverage of democracy, the environment and gun violence prevention. That was followed by a two-year grant in 2016, awarding $50,000 annually to support coverage of democracy, the environment and gun violence prevention. In 2018, The Joyce Foundation awarded the Center a two-year grant of $100,000 a year.
The Evjue Foundation, the charitable arm of The Capital Times in Madison, is a major supporter of the Center. The foundation made contributions to WCIJ in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, and in 2013, significantly increased its support to $20,000 — the largest single contribution received from a Wisconsin donor. Evjue repeated its $20,000 support in 2014 and 2015, and increased its giving to $30,000 in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, based in Miami, became a major donor in 2014 with a $75,000 general operating grant (spread over two years). In December 2016, the foundation designated the Center as one of 57 nonprofit news organizations eligible for up to $25,000 in matching funds through its News Match program. As 2017 began, the Center successfully completed the match, thanks to 168 donors. In 2018, the Center was awarded $27,000 from News Match, now funded by an expanded number of donors, for meeting the program’s fundraising goals.
In 2014, the Center and UW-Madison journalism school obtained a $35,000 grant that was among the inaugural awards at 12 universities under the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, created to encourage experimentation in ways to provide news and information. The competitive program is managed by the Online News Association and is funded by the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation.
In 2015, the Vital Projects Fund, based in New York City, became a major supporter, contributing $25,000 to support the Center’s coverage of criminal justice issues. It provided $20,000 in 2016 and $15,000 in 2017.
The Reva & David Logan Foundation, based in Chicago, became a major supporter of the Center in 2017 with a general support grant of $100,000. The foundation awarded the Center $125,000 grants in 2018 and 2019.
The Center also is grateful for support it received from the Peters Family Foundation in Utah in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018; the Wisconsin State Journal in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014; and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and its related foundation, which provided $10,000 in 2014 and 2015, $14,00 in 2016, and $20,000 in 2017.
In 2016, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication received a grant from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment to establish a class in fact-checking and to create The Observatory website to publish fact-checked reports and information about fact-checking. The Center, in turn, received a contract of $15,000 in the first year and $10,000 in the second to develop and launch the website and assist in fact-checking, editing and distribution of content. The Center is training students and raising the supply of high-quality verified journalism.
In 2017, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication received a three-year grant totaling $120,000 from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment to collaborate with the Center on production of investigative reports by students that will be published on the Center’s website and distributed to media partners across the state and nation. The Center is being paid through a contract.
In 2019, Houston philanthropists Laura and John Arnold, founders of Arnold Ventures, became major supporters of the Center, with a $100,000 gift of general operating support.
All members of the Center’s Board of Directors, who serve as volunteers, are financial supporters of the organization.
The Center has received revenue for producing reports and conducting interviews through arrangements with the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.; WBEZ Public Media in Chicago; American University’s J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism; Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting; Sarah Colt Productions in New York City; and HuffPost.
In 2011, the Center announced a partnership with MAPLight.org to investigate the influence of money in Wisconsin state politics and policymaking. The project was supported by the Open Society Institute. The Center received about $25,000 for this project in 2011 and a similar amount in the first half of 2012.
Our financial supporters
Abbotsford Tribune Phonograph
Rita Allen Foundation
Lynn and Tom Ansfield
Appleton Post-Crescent Community Fund
Beaver Dam Daily Citizen
Blue Valley Farms
Malcolm and Penny Brett
Peter and Marsha Cannon
The Capital Times
Denis and Carol Koby Carey
Ned Cochrane and Bonnie Cox
Marcus and Sheila Cohen
Betty and Corkey Custer
Dead Bird Brewing Co.
William and Gretchen Dresen
Jennifer and John Edmondson
El Grito Taqueria
Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation
Mark and Sara Eversden
Michael and Gloria Fauerbach
Robert and Marianne Fazen
Fund for Environmental Journalism
Fund for Investigative Journalism
Sharon and Warren Gaskill
James M. Grayson
Andy and Dee J. Hall
Larry Hands and Karen Kendrick-Hands
Sally Mead Hands Foundation
Philip and Janet Hasler
Kermit and Diana Hovey
Kathleen Lapp James
The Janesville Gazette
The Joyce Foundation
Karon Medical Writing, LLC
Rita and Tim Kehl
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund at The Miami Foundation
Robert Dreps and Betty Koehl
Scott and Donna Lewein
The Reva & David Logan Foundation
Willis F. Long
Patricia Kay Lucas
Susan and Steve Macejkovic
John K. MacIver Institute
Carol and Stuart Martell
Michael P. May
Robert R. McCormick Foundation
McGillivray Westerberg & Bender LLC
Oma Vic McMurray
Howard and Nancy Mead
Karen Lincoln Michel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Jack and Bonnie Mitchell
Doug Moe and Jeanan Yasiri Moe
Greg and Michaela Moy
Open Society Foundations (Foundation to Promote Open Society)
Tara and Carlos Pabellon
Peters Family Foundation
Franklynn and Judi Peterson and K-Turkel
Pines Bach LLP
Jonathan M. Rivin
The Robin Room
Brynn Bemis and Finn Ryan
Schott, Bublitz & Engel s.c.
Hemant and Elizabeth Shah
Carol and Michael Shank
Gail and Dan Shea
Norma and Elliott Sober
Richard Thomas Record Living Trust
Tribune Phonograph TP Printing
Lynn and Nancy Utesch
Vantage Point luncheon series
Vital Projects Fund
Thomas F. Warren
We The People
Roger and Kristi Williams
Wisconsin Broadcasters Association
Wisconsin Newspaper Association
Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation
Wisconsin Public Radio
Wisconsin State Journal
James and Susan Zerwick