Legendary Mother Jones Flips Publishing Model For Philanthropy
Legendary Mother Jones Flips Publishing Model For Philanthropy

Mother Jones, a publishing nonprofit that focuses on investigative journalism and commentary, has shifted its funding focuses from more traditional publishing practices with a combination of new hires and promotions. Emily Cozart Mohammed has rejoined the San Francisco-based organization as vice president of development, a newly created position.

Cozart Mohammed has taken on many of the duties previously performed by Publisher Steve Katz, who left the 46-year-old nonprofit journalism entity on April 1 to join the University of California — Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism as assistant dean, advancement.

“Steve was our fundraising leader,” CEO Monika Bauerlein told The NonProfit Times. “He had all the responsibilities typically associated with a VP for development.” Katz had been with Mother Jones for nearly 19 years. In addition to his development duties, at various times during his tenure he oversaw the organization’s public affairs team (which now reports to the chief operating officer) as well as the membership team, which focuses on subscription marketing.

Cozart Mohammed’s new position reflects the organization’s need for a senior leader primarily focused on major gifts and fundraising, as opposed to other revenue areas, Bauerlein added.

Mother Jones’ financial fortunes demonstrate the need for this focus. According to the organization’s federal Form 990s, between the financial years ending June 30, 2017 and June 30, 2021, its revenue from contributions and grants has fluctuated between $11.5 million and $12.5 million, ending June 30, 2021 at $12.2 million. For that year, which includes the height of the coronavirus pandemic, revenue from contributions, gifts and non-government grants stood at just more than $6.1 million, down from $8.4 million the previous year and $9.1 million two years prior.

The prior years’ totals also included receipts from a major fundraising capacity expansion campaign, Bauerlein said. “We had raised special one-time gifts that we knew all along were not going to be repeated,” she said. That campaign raised $25 million in gifts, as well as gift expectancies such as longer-term and legacy donations, Bauerlein added.

Against this background, Cozart Mohammed was a solid fit, according to Bauerlein. “In addition to being familiar with Mother Jones, she was a philanthropy leader at The Guardian, and so she has a really deep understanding of how to develop opportunities for philanthropic funding for journalism without compromising editorial integrity,” Bauerlein said. “That is a very high priority for Mother Jones. Translating that into funding proposals that respect editorial integrity — we receive less foundation funding than many other nonprofit newsrooms. We have a very strong and broad base of individual donors.”

Cozart Mohammed had been with Mother Jones as associate director of development between 2012 and 2018, before serving as director of philanthropy at Guardian News and Media and director of leadership gifts and director of philanthropy at Vote Solar, an energy justice nonprofit. 

In support of Cozart Mohammed, Beth Eisenstaedt, who has been with Mother Jones in two fundraising positions since 2018, was promoted to deputy director of development and Lisa Schachter was hired to serve as a funder advancement officer. In that role, she is charged with growing mid-level donors to the major gift level.