Gift Acceptance Policy

Purpose: To provide guidance to prospective funders and their advisers when making gifts to the Center for Public Integrity.

Responsibility for the Policy: Development department, in partnership with the chief executive officer and the Board of the Center for Public Integrity.

Background: The Center for Public Integrity has created this policy, which combines best practices in fundraising, governance and journalism, to define how we accept and recognize donations and how we conduct ourselves with funders.

Protecting the editorial direction: Any funding sought and accepted by the Center for Public Integrity is driven by editorial priorities determined through a strategic planning process. Funders do not drive editorial decision making. Public Integrity does not take assignments or commissions from any funder.

Protecting Public Integrity’s reputation as a nonpartisan newsroom: Public Integrity carefully designs its relationships with funders to ensure that these relationships do not influence editorial work and to avoid creating any contrary impression. We seek to maintain a firewall between editorial staff and funders while providing good stewardship of the gift.

  • Communication between Public Integrity and a funder is managed by the development department and the chief executive officer. Funder representatives should not contact reporters or editors directly. Reporters and editors should take reasonable measures to include promptly the development staff in any contact with funders.
  • When there are meetings or phone calls with funders to discuss the use of their contribution, a development officer will participate unless other arrangements have been made by the chief development officer.
  • The chief development officer or his/her designate is responsible for any discussions between Public Integrity and the funder about publicity and press releases related to Public Integrity’s work. The final decision on these matters rests with the Center for Public Integrity.

Funding accepted by the Center for Public Integrity: The Center for Public Integrity takes contributions primarily from individuals and foundations. In some instances, such as employee designations, matching gift programs or special event sponsorships, Public Integrity may accept contributions from corporations and unions. These contributions will be fully disclosed.

Updated policy due to the coronavirus pandemic: Because a significant amount of Public Integrity work focuses on the intersection of government and money, historically we have not taken contributions from governments. We are making an exception because of the COVID­-19 pandemic. Public Integrity applied for and received $657,600 under the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan for small businesses to pay employees during this crisis, which was forgiven in early 2021, and has received a second-year PPP loan of $566,669, which can also be forgiven if certain spending restrictions and payroll provisions are met. This is an exceptional decision in an unprecedented moment, when the pandemic has crippled economic activity and caused major funders, as well as the public, to reassess or pull back their support.

Thousands of news organizations have taken the drastic and unusual step of applying for this loan. The PPP loan is different from taking program funds from a government agency. It is open to small businesses, and gives the government no right to review or interfere with our journalism.

The PPP loan does not compromise our mission or limit our journalism. To the contrary, by allowing us to maintain staff it helps us continue our essential work of holding the government and other powerful institutions accountable. That has included a series of investigative stories about the PPP loan program itself, and our successful lawsuit against the Trump administration last year demanding full transparency on PPP loan recipients.

Listing our donors: Just as we expect transparency from others, we will be transparent in disclosing our funding sources (see our list of funders). As befits Public Integrity adherence to professional fundraising standards, we also will strive to treat funders with the utmost integrity. In balancing these interests, we adhere to the following standards:

  • We disclose the funding relationship when a funder is mentioned in a story.
  • We list our donors of $250 and higher on our website and in our annual report.
  • We list the number of donors below $250 on our website and in our annual report
  • We list donors of $5,000 and above on the IRS 990 as required by law.
  • When contributions to the Center for Public Integrity from a donor-advised fund (a charitable giving vehicle administered by a third-party to manage the charitable contribution of an organization, family or individual), it is our practice whenever possible, to list both the name of the donor (technically the donor-advised fund itself) as well as the individual(s) who make the contribution.
  • If a donor at any level requests not to be listed, we follow the guidelines given for handling exceptional situations (see below).

Exceptional Situations: From time to time, the chief development officer and the chief executive officer may enlist the executive committee of the board to evaluate gifts given under non-standard circumstances. The executive committee will consult, as it deems appropriate, with the chief financial officer, the chief development officer, or legal counsel, to determine the suitability of accepting a particular gift. In evaluating these gifts, Public Integrity will respect the aims and honor the guidelines expressed in this policy. Each year, Public Integrity will disclose the number of gifts it has accepted through this process, in its annual report.