GFMD launched a new report on funding in the media development sector: “Transforming Media Development – Recommendations for Effective Funding and Collaboration “. This study is based on a body of desk research as well as a series of online interviews with GFMD members from Eastern Europe, Asia and South America. It documents the challenges that GFMD’s members face daily in their attempts to raise funds and live up to donor expectations on reporting and accountability.
This report builds on the findings of surveys conducted by GFMD in 2018 and 2022 to assess members’ perceptions of fundraising processes and donor priorities for the media and the media development sector. Over the past five years, research by the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) has revealed significant challenges in fundraising and business development for media support organisations, including:
- The short-term nature of funding and a marked lack of continuity in development programmes
- A tendency by donors to view news media as a tool for their communication strategies rather than a crucial requirement for democracy-building
- Top-down relationships between donors and implementing agencies.
- Opaque funding programmes and lengthy, overly complex application procedures
This has led to a fragmented sector with credibility issues. While some donors have made positive changes, many still use outdated practices, and the burden of reporting to multiple donors is seen as unsustainable. This report draws on the feedback of media development actors to present a set of recommendations for both donors and implementing agencies.
Recommendations for donors include:
- Offer core or institutional support to independent media outlets, recognising that, without core funding, many of these actors will cease to exist and the diversity of voices will be diminished.
- Take steps to improve dialogue with media development partners and engage in the co-creation of projects.
- Conduct or commission regular, structured assessments of media landscapes and use the findings to shape funding programmes.
- Invest in country-based audience research which can give proper insight into the themes and formats which are likely to resonate with different target groups.
- Simplify procedures and reduce lead times for applications.
- Harmonise procedures across the donor community, thereby enabling joint reporting and collaborative monitoring and evaluation.
- Give leadership roles to media support organisations from the Global South, acknowledging their in-depth knowledge of local media landscapes and their credibility among local actors.
Implementing agencies are advised to:
- Diversify the donor base and consider opportunities for commercial activity to supplement grant funding.
- Prioritise donors who offer their beneficiaries long-term partnerships based on a common vision and shared goals.
- Avoid pursuing funding opportunities that have limited chances of success or that are a poor fit for core activities.
- Engage in network- and coalition-building with a view to pooling resources with counterparts.
- Improve resource allocation within in-house teams and consider ways of streamlining business development work.
- Improve M&E systems in order to generate stronger evidence of impact and success.
- Enter into strategic partnerships with other implementing organisations that have complementary skills.
- Establish a clear and distinct position in the media development market.
The report’s findings complement GFMD’s current efforts to update media development principles, which are expected to be adopted by OECD’s Development Assistance Committee in 2024. This 2-year consultation process aims to increase overseas development assistance to the media sector, emphasising fair, transparent disbursement based on audience needs and professional priorities.