LION Sustainability Audits and Funding

The LION Sustainability Audits and Funding program offers a comprehensive process for LION members to identify and respond constructively to roadblocks to sustainability within their organizations. 

The program includes a thorough assessment of your news business, with recommendations and resources to help enhance organizational sustainability. The Audit process consists of: 

  • A questionnaire to define the current state of your organization in terms of operational, financial, and journalism metrics
  • An interview with an expert analyst to dive deeper into your business
  • An Audit report compiled by the analyst and LION staff summarizing organizational strengths and recommendations for action to enhance organizational sustainability

Audit applications for 2024 are now open!

Open to all U.S.-based LION members, the program also offers up to $20,000 in funding to participants who implement at least two recommendations. You must be a LION member to be eligible; you can apply to become a LION member here.

Sustainability Audit applications for 2024 are open through September 9, 2024. Apply by July 8 to be considered for Cycle 3 (July-September). If you have questions about the LION Sustainability Audits and Funding program, please email Andrew Rockway at [email protected].

The LION Sustainability Audits and Funding program is made possible with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Google News Initiative.


175 LION members participated in the Sustainability Audit program in 2022 and 2023. 93% of participating organizations said the Audit had or will have a positive impact in making their news business more sustainable.

Here’s what some of the participating organizations have said:

"Stepping back to look at the health of our organization is important for telling funders about our strengths and potential, building trust with our audience, and working with our team to do effective strategic planning for the future. We appreciate the thoughtful questions and thorough interview to document our pain points, successes, and opportunities now that they are spelled out. We'll be sharing this resource with staff and stakeholders."

"I was scared when I first signed up for the Audit, but it turned out to be a truly nurturing process. The questionnaire takes time and a lot of self-compassion, but it's SO WORTH IT when you get the list of recommendations. I left the experience feeling grateful to have experts in the field help me on the path to sustainability with a practical guide."

Camille Padilla Dalmau
9 Millones

"Some of the analysis is hard to swallow because it makes one confront shortcomings or the true cost of lack of resources, but overall, it's like going to therapy or having an honest annual health check-up. It doesn't mean you have to take the doctor's advice, but in your heart, you know that if you want to live long or, in this case, grow sustainably and prosper, there are best practices. Asking for help is the hardest step, and I appreciate LION reaching out to me to make this happen."

Carol Robidoux
Manchester Ink Link

“This was a phenomenal process. It's a wonderful way to gauge my progress and prepare for my future.”

Travers Johnson

“This was a unique opportunity for us to get an objective look at our organizational sustainability, and benchmark us with our peers. What a gift!”

Kelsey Ryan
The Beacon

“I found it to be very helpful and gave me great ideas to strengthen our community engagement. I look forward to exploring the ideas and advice I received.”

Shannon Shaw Duty
Osage News

"This Audit was spot on. I feel more confident in growing my business. My toolbox is full, and I can't wait to implement these changes. I'm also looking forward to sleeping well and not working a bazillion hours a day wondering why I thought it was a good idea to start my business."

Denise Lockwood
Racine County Eye