Membership Standards

Updated June 11, 2013

To be considered for INN membership an organization must first complete the application form available at the INN website. Every organization admitted into the Investigative News Network must meet the requirements listed below:

1. Nonprofit status

  • Members must be organized as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and have tax-exempt status or a 501(c)(3) nonprofit fiscal sponsor.

2.  Donor Transparency

  • Members must post online policies regarding fundraising and donations.
  • Members must disclose names of all donors who have contributed $1,000* or more. INN encourages the disclosure of all donors.
  • Members must post online the IRS form 990, or the 990 of the 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor, or the equivalent budget and salary information.

INN recognizes each applicant may have different fundraising and donations policies, but encourages as much transparency as possible to ensure that each organization’s journalism does not support the views, interests or policies of any single political party or political viewpoint, or that of any single religion or religious viewpoint.

The applicant or an existing member shall discuss with INN's Membership and Standards Committee any of the following circumstances:

  • Potential or existing donors who have requested anonymity and have contributed a total of $1,000 or more.
  • Any donor organization that does not disclose the source of its funding.

After that discussion, the committee will advise the board on whether the applicant qualifies for membership or an existing member still qualifies for membership.

3. Nonpartisan journalism

The member project must:

  • Create, publish and produce nonpartisan information and news. Nonpartisan means the member is engaged in investigative and/or public interest news reporting that is not based upon, influenced by or supportive of the interests or policies of any single political party or political viewpoint or any single religion or religious viewpoint.
  • Lobby only for freedom of information and freedom of press issues.

4. Apply high journalistic standards for accuracy and fairness and which prevent conflicts of interest that compromise the integrity of the work.

The membership and standards committee will review each member organization periodically, and investigate, at its discretion, any complaints or any evidence that it discovers on its own accord that would suggest that a member organization has violated any membership standards and/or the binding membership agreement.


* Exceptions may be considered when an organization can demonstrate the need, and how the organization actively prevents any donor from influencing editorial.