Online news channel chosen to test YouTube’s ‘Fan Funding’

June 30, 2014
The dialog box for YouTube's new Fan Funding program. This one features Poynter fellow Ben Mullin.

The dialog box for YouTube’s new Fan Funding program. This one features Poynter fellow Ben Mullin.

The Young Turks, a YouTube-based network that generates about 68 million views monthly, has begun to try out a fundraising platform, called Fan Funding.

The program, which is currently in limited release, allows online video creators on YouTube to generate revenue from their viewers with a “support” button. After one week of using the feature, The Young Turks has generated about $400, said Steve Oh, the chief operating officer of the network.

Currently, the feature only allows viewers to contribute by using Google Wallet, an online payment service similar to PayPal, which may have limited the number of donations, Oh said.

Under the terms of the program, donations are limited to $500. YouTube collects five percent of the total donation, plus a 21 cent transaction fee.

Nonprofit investigative news organization ProPublica has applied to use YouTube’s Fan Funding, but hasn’t yet been admitted to the program, said Minhee Cho, ProPublica’s communications manager.

The feature comes at a time when some journalists are turning to their audiences to generate revenue for special projects. In April, Poynter reported that journalist Shane Bauer had raised $14,520 on crowdfunding website Beacon to cover U.S. prisons for a year. And in December, The Young Turks used crowdfunding website Indiegogo to generate $404,000 to finance the construction of a studio in Los Angeles.

Although the The Young Turks have had success with crowdfunding, the network tries not to rely too heavily on audience donations for fear that their readers might feel taken advantage of, Oh said.

“I don’t want even the appearance of exploitation or we’re taking them for granted or we’re looking for a handout,” he said.

Disclosure: Google, the company that funds my fellowship, owns YouTube.

Correction: The original version of this story identified ProPublica’s Minhee Cho as the organization’s communications director. She is the nonprofit’s communications manager.


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