6. Strategic objectives

GFMD's strategic objectives for 2021-2025.

Overarching goal

GFMD recognises that collective efforts are the most effective way of driving system-level change and overcoming key challenges within this sector.

It has an exceptional experience of bringing the needs and priorities of journalism and news media to the attention of a range of stakeholders including policymakers, donors, and funders.

GFMD has also played a vital role in identifying the key drivers for success and failure in journalism support and media development worldwide.


Address political, economic, social, and structural constraints to journalism sustainability and media freedom through targeted, peer-led advocacy and to ensure that the voices, needs, and priorities of journalism organisations, news media, and journalism support and media development organisations are properly reflected in relevant policy processes.

GFMD has shown its ability to work effectively to bring grassroots voices and concerns to the regional and international level and provide essential input to development policies during the formation period of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Advocacy initiatives will mainstream the voices of journalism and media actors – small and big ones, NGOs and private sector, in the Global South and Global North, ensuring that they carry as much weight as many of their corporate counterparts in the North.

  1. ODA - Foreign Policy and Assistance (SDGs/UN, Anti-Corruption/WB/IFI, Governance (media development as part of governance efforts), Media Assistance as part of Human Rights/support - more money and a more efficient and effective approach

  2. Enabling environment (governance) - Digital regulation, IGF, Platforms, Content moderation, Business models (philanthropy), legal and business environment

  3. Other ad hoc media freedom advocacy initiatives

GFMD provides a structure that allows local, regional and global journalism support and media development NGOs to participate in global policy and decision-making processes on an even playing field. This makes for more coherent journalism support and media development sector in which GFMD relays the structured policy arguments of civil society in policy discussions with government and private sector actors.

GFMD shares the belief that collaboration is critical to solving the biggest crisis for journalism and democracy as we know it. Our response to new challenges requires innovative and improved mechanisms of connecting different stakeholders to efficiently match the information needs of local communities with committed donors, philanthropists, and their peers.

We aim to help facilitate policies and processes that reduce monopoly power, remove commercial pressures, install public interest protections, and build efficient and sustainable funding alternatives for future journalism and media.

GFMD will, on behalf of its members and the wider community, engage with decision-makers and funders to better formulate the needs within the sector and to have a two-way conversation with policymakers and funders.

GFMD will continue to advocate for increased understanding and recognition of journalism support and media development within the international donor community. This will also entail regular engagement with the representatives of key donor and philanthropy organisations to better articulate existing needs and priorities within the sector.

GFMD will actively encourage increased cooperation and exchange in order to strengthen industry impact, efficiency and professionalism and will provide platforms to facilitate this objective.

In addition, GFMD will continue to support core themes identified by its members (e.g. Internet Governance, SDGs, women in media, journalists safety), channelling their views into international policy debates. GFMD’s newly conferred Special Consultative Status at the UN will assist and galvanise these efforts, particularly in terms of developing policy and practice around SDG 16.10.

GFMD is implementing its policy and advocacy activities through:

  • Policy and learning committee and groups

  • Joint policy and advocacy

  • Advocacy campaigns


Build skills and know-how in journalism support and media development community through peer-to-peer learning, networking, and knowledge-sharing.

Providing small and medium-sized members with a fundraising resource centre containing a sector-specific fundraising guide, an extensive list of media development donor profiles, and tips and tools to help them achieve their fundraising goals.

Providing other relevant resource centres dedicated to internet governance issues, gender equality, journalism safety, etc. Access to and information about events taking place, facilitate the exchange of knowledge and know-how across national and regional borders.

Establish an affiliate member base from the network of GFMD’s international members, giving small, local grass-roots organisations access to the network’s services and providing them with a seat at the policy table in exchange for access to their data and experiences with the aim of improving research and knowledge about the effects of media development efforts.

Gather data and info from members that help inform both policy and advocacy formulation and produce knowledge and content for GFMD’s IMPACT initiative.

Capacity building & learning

We champion the idea that journalists, media and media development organisations have a great deal of expertise to share with one another, and as such will facilitate peer-to-peer learning and exchanges.

We will actively contribute to building capacities of local organisations and professionals in their interaction with international implementers and donors.

This objective will be pursued through sharing and showcasing best practices that demonstrate impact and ensuring the dissemination of industry-relevant knowledge among its members.

Workshops, consultancy clinics, training sessions and webinars will be aimed at equipping media, journalists and media development staff with the ability to successfully apply for grants from international donors, foundations and philanthropists.

Through the learning programmes, local organisations will gain a better understanding of the basic building blocks of non-profit management.

GFMD experts will also provide more general strategic advice enabling beneficiaries to better navigate the international donor landscape and negotiate effective partnerships contributing to the overall professional level of the sector.

Members – particularly those in the Global South – are eager to gain the skills necessary to successfully apply for grants in their own right and to manage donor funding in an effective way. As part of this cycle, they also need to be able to monitor and evaluate impact, thereby demonstrating the value of their work and ensuring that media development remains high on the donor agenda.

Working groups

During the previous four years, GFMD has engaged members within working groups such as Women in Media, Internet Governance, and Research and Impact based on the reported needs and interests of our members and the challenges they face.

Although some of the working groups have been highly successful, we feel that they have plateaued in terms of impact on their own, and would like to invite the whole membership, including their partners, to join our major policy and learning discussions.

We plan to continue convening these groups and sharing their knowledge and lessons learned through regular Policy and Learning membership meetings, working meetings, dedicated mailing lists, and resource centre pages.

Resource centres

The members of the working groups will also be invited to help expand and grow the GFMD resource centres that were originally established as a sharing centre for these working groups.

The resource centres have developed into a dynamic group of information and knowledge spaces focusing on fundraising, internet governance, gender, journalism safety, investigative journalism, and SDGs.

While the resource centres are primarily managed by the GFMD secretariat, moving forward the centres will be populated and updated by guest editors comprised of the afore-mentioned working group members and key experts from the sector.

Funding, viability and sustainability

Although the current global pandemic has exacerbated the situation, funding problems in the media development sector are not new. Falling advertising revenues and subscriptions, a clickbait-driven financial model, lack of trust and reliance on internet traffic driven by big tech have left figures in the red on the bottom line of most members.

Media viability and sustainability are therefore top of the agenda for most of GFMD’s members.

Under the umbrella of the new Bottom Line concept, GFMD has launched a new fundraising resource centre that will complement our efforts to provide members access to the latest funding opportunities.

A recurring theme for the small and medium-sized members of GFMD is the difficulty that they face when applying for grants. With this in mind, GFMD has created a media development-specific Fundraising Guide. The guide, curated by one of the sector’s most successful fundraising consultants, peer-reviewed, and tested by GFMD members will provide members with the tips and tools needed to improve their skills, and, ultimately, their success rate.

The resource centre also provides an extensive lexicon of fundraising terms and the sector’s most comprehensive media-development specific list of donor profiles.

The resource centre is hosted on Github’s GitBook application, an interactive, dynamic site that will allow users to comment, update, and provide feedback on the resources listed and will allow members and experts to function as guest editors for up to one month at a time.

Objective 3 - ESTABLISHING The International Media Policy and Advisory Centre (IMPACT)

The International Media Policy and Advisory Centre (IMPACT) is an initiative by the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) that aims to assist donors, funders, policy-makers, practitioners, and other stakeholders in making informed, evidence-based decisions on strategies, programming, funding, and advocacy for media development and journalism support. ‌

The initiative responds to the global crises facing media across the world, including the collapse of traditional business models, increasing attacks on journalists, and the rise of dis/misinformation, seeking to leverage expertise and maximize the effectiveness of funding to address these challenges.

‌The foundational concept for IMPACT is based on two studies conducted in 2019 (Recipient perceptions of media development assistance: A GFMD study and Donor feedback on GFMD's concept for a Media Development Policy Hub), which indicated particular interest in a dedicated help desk, an online resource centre, with a convening and coordinating capacity. ‌

IMPACT will also incorporate GFMD's research, impact, and learning working group, which mobilises conversations towards tracking best practices in the media development sector.

Thus far, the group has explored benchmarking theories of change, donor assistance policies, and common standards for efficient journalism support.

‌The group has secured the commitment of academics in the field along with media development organisations including la Fondation Hirondelle, Free Press Unlimited, International Media Support, BBC Media Action and IREX. ‌

The aims of the group include deliberating the available research, data, and evidence related to issues of impact, standards, and learning in journalism and media development as well as driving dialogue on the topics of funding, sustainability, and impact assessment and learning. ‌

With the group, we strive to build bridges between scholars and practitioners and to support collaborative approaches to researching media and development issues.

In 2021 the International Media Policy and Advisory Centre will host three IMPACT learning meetings:

The goal of these meetings is to facilitate regular communication, knowledge sharing and experience exchange between donors and practitioners.

The meetings may have various formats: coordination meetings, policy and learning meetings, small group meetings depending on the specific purpose and issue they address.

In preparation for each learning meeting, GFMD will create an overview of relevant research documents and an analysis of the theme of the meeting.

See this example from the GFMD IMPACT meeting on disinformation:

Each IMPACT learning meeting will form the basis of a briefing or paper, which will be published by GFMD within four weeks.

The reports from the two previous meetings are available here:


Enhance and expand the resources offered to members, donors and the overall sector, including knowledge management and communications platforms.

Governance, Structure, Funding

The Strategic Plan proposes placing increased emphasis on providing members, donors and the overall sector access to the latest research, studies and analysis which can help shape their own implementation strategies.

Over recent years, GFMD’s online presence has been enhanced by a revamped website with the resource centre, a range of newsletters/email lists and dynamic Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn channels.

These platforms have served to increase the organisation’s outreach and energise its communications activities. Enhanced communications will also ensure that GFMD is more reactive to upcoming challenges and can facilitate a constructive exchange of views across its global community.

This drive will continue throughout the period covered by the Strategic Plan, thereby improving GFMD’s visibility and building its reputation for driving knowledge management processes.

The primary strategic objective of GFMD’s communications team remains to facilitate the hosting, exchange, and promotion of knowledge, resources, and opportunities, within the GFMD network and with other target beneficiaries on a global level including media development and journalism support organisations, independent journalism and media organisations, the donor community, research institutions and think tanks, and other members of civil society.

Doing so not only serves the purpose of sharing valuable knowledge throughout the community but also offers an opportunity to promote and platform the work of GFMD members.

The following tools and platforms are used to increase engagement with and visibility among these communities:

The GFMD website

The GFMD website should be the hub of GFMD’s communications activities, from which most content is disseminated and to which social media and newsletter content should link back.

Social media channels

Maintaining and developing GFMD’s social media presence is vital to establishing GFMD as a core player in media development and journalism support communities and achieving the core strategic aims.

Additionally, social media channels should be used as a means of redirecting audiences to the GFMD website.

Currently, the GFMD communications team uses Twitter and LinkedIn as its core social media platforms.

MediaDev Insider Newsletter

GFMD’s monthly MediaDev Insider newsletter must remain central to achieving the organisational communications strategy.

The newsletter serves as a monthly roundup of the main activities taking place within the media development community, while also highlighting the work carried out by GFMD’s secretariat, and promoting resources, opportunities, and events that are of significant value to the network and our target beneficiaries.

The communications team regularly monitors Mailchimp analytics to assess how the newsletter’s readership and impact can be maximised.

Series of online events

GFMD has established itself as a key player in the organisation and hosting of online events (including webinars, working meetings, and town halls) related to journalism and development.

The organisation will continue to harness the wealth of diverse knowledge within the network of members and partners to provide informative and interactive online discussions on a range of topics relevant to our target beneficiaries.

Global reach

GFMD values knowledge-based expertise and strives to help build a stronger media development sector based on its dissemination.

Many of the incoming affiliate members are from non-English speaking communities and are unfairly disadvantaged due to a long-standing bias in favour of English speakers that pervades the larger media development organisations.

GFMD wants to address this imbalance and is therefore also considering expanding its geographical and linguistic reach by creating scaled-down versions of the website in Arabic, French, Spanish and Russian.

This would include:

  1. About sections

  2. Blogs

  3. Press releases

  4. Research summaries

  5. The GFMD fundraising resource centre (including the guide, lexicon and mapping of media development donors)

This objective would be pursued by contacting organisations that provide pro-bono translation services and through establishing content partnerships with organisations to have research available in other languages, as well as subscribing to digital translation apps that can translate meetings and webinars in real-time.

Long-term sustainability for the sector

GFMD’s curated funding information, tools, and resources help our members and their partners who want to increase their ability to successfully generate revenues from donors and international and local funders by resolving lack of capacity and access to opportunities, knowledge, and funders.

By enabling long-term, sustained engagement; visibility and access to policymakers; long-term benefits and added value for organisations, their partners and the overall sector, GFMD helps our members participate in the shaping of international media policy.

The whole media development sector benefits from the improved sustainability of its individual members.

For this reason, the Bottom Line project and the combined advocacy efforts that GFMD does on the behalf of its members all contribute to the overall lifting of the sector’s visibility and resilience.

Organisations that are constantly struggling to pay salaries, office rent and equipment do not have the organisational and financial resources to participate in sector-wide efforts to lift the industry’s profile.

By helping them to become financially stable organisations, they will be able to focus their efforts on improving outreach and lobbying efforts by having the extra resources to share their results, skills, experience, knowledge and expertise.

By becoming paying members or affiliate members of the network, all organisations are guaranteed equal representation and a seat at the policy table.

Function and objectives of GFMD as outlined in the new constitution

In the new GFMD Constitution (which members are voting on ahead of the 2021 General Assembly) GFMD's functions and objectives are defined as follows:


2.1 An international forum

To provide an international forum for the discussion of ideas, information and strategies in the field of media development and journalism support.

To strengthen approaches to international cooperation focused on the support to journalism and media support sector, including through new, enhanced and innovative funding streams and strategies.

To address political, economic, social, and structural constraints to journalism sustainability and media freedom through targeted, peer-led policy and advocacy and to ensure that the voices, needs, and priorities of journalism and media sector actors are properly reflected in relevant discussions and processes.

To amplify the voices of the journalism, media sector (and journalism and media support actors) from the Global South in global policy debates.

2.2 Knowledge sharing

To support, develop and disseminate relevant research and analysis relating to the work of the journalism and media support sector.

To enhance the effectiveness of the work of the journalism and media support sector by making it more evidence-based and responsive to needs by further improving the availability of information and knowledge sharing mechanisms and practices.

To enhance and expand the resources available to members, donors and other interested stakeholders, including through knowledge management and communications platforms.

2.3 Ethics and standards

To promote agreement on common professional and ethical standards for the work of the journalism and media support sector, including with a view to encouraging cross-sector cooperation and collaboration, as well as fair and healthy competition.

To advance best practice methods in the work of the journalism and media support sector through the dissemination and implementation of the standards noted above.

To promote quality, ethical journalism as a public good.

2.4 Human rights

To promote freedom of expression, media freedom, digital rights and the right to information.

To promote a rights-respecting legal and policy environment for journalism and the media, including by supporting robust public service media, community and local media, and investigative journalism.

2.5 Policy and advocacy

To educate members, policymakers, donors, businesses, civil society and other relevant stakeholders about the importance of free, independent, pluralistic and viable media to democracy, human rights and sustainable development.

To enhance opportunities for journalism and media support organisations and practitioners to interact with donors, governments, opinion leaders and the wider public.

To assist donors and relevant policy-makers to make informed, evidence-based decisions on strategies, programming and funding for the journalism and media support sector.

To identify and engage in relevant donor processes and to support members and partners to take advantage of those opportunities, including by producing and disseminating relevant, high-quality research and analysis.

To serve our members and partners in the areas of policy and advocacy, including by building their capacity, representing them on the international stage, serving as a convenor for them and facilitating their access to advocacy opportunities.

2.6 Diversity

To seek to embody the diversity and variety of society worldwide, by ensuring a broad geographical and topical spread within its membership, by promoting broad diversity in its Steering Committee, Secretariat and other structures, and by gaining a better understanding of the challenges faced by the journalism and media sector in different environments.

To promote diversity and gender-inclusivity within both the journalism and media support sector and journalism and media sector itself.

If your organisation is a general member of GFMD and has not yet voted on the new constitution please contact us. The deadline for voting is 28 September.


This draft strategic plan will be presented for discussion at a special session of the GFMD General Assembly on 1 October 2021. For more details and to find out how to participate see:

page1 October 2021

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