Goodbye. Thanks For Everything.

Today is my last day at INN.

It's been a privilege to work this past 4+ years supporting a nationwide network of over 120 nonprofit news organizations.

Now, I'm excited to turn my attention to a single organization that I really admire. I start next week as a senior developer for Mother Jones.

I'm sad to leave but proud of all that we've accomplished.

In the time since I joined INN 4 or so years ago the team has grown from one (me) to six people. And we've done it in a way that has remained true to our values, even through some very tough times.

We helped dozens of organizations, become leaders in supporting remote work, started a killer newsletter and have done our best to promote nonprofit news as a cause that is well-worth supporting. We've also written extensively and shared as much as we could about what we've learned along the way.

Above all, I am grateful to have had an opportunity to work with such an incredible bunch of folks. First, thanks to Jessica Plautz for recruiting me in the first place and Kevin Davis for giving me the opportunity. A special thank you to Ryan Nagle and Kaeti Hinck who joined the team early on, when no one had really heard of INN and the team had yet to build any sort of reputation. They did a huge amount of work to lay the groundwork that has allowed INN to get to where it is today.

Also, of course, to Boss Of The Year (2015), Denise Malan, and our other team members, Nick Bennett, Jack Brighton, Jacki Keys and Meredith Melragon, who  all contributed along the way.

Thanks also to all of our incredible apprentices who have gone on to do great things at other organizations,Will Haynes, Dani Litovsky Alcala , David Ryan and Sinduja Rangarajan, as well as our current apprentice, Gabriel Hongdusit. It has been incredibly fulfilling to work with all of you and I'm excited to continue to follow your careers and cheer you along the way.

I leave the team in the capable hands of Julia Smith, who has taken over as acting director. She is incredible and I'm confident that she will carry on the important work we've really just started. The rest of the team, RC Lations, Kay Lima and Ben Keith are also some of the best in the business. Period. It's been a pleasure to work with all of you.

I'm excited to see what you do next. Keep in touch.

Building A WordPress Donation Form Using Gravity Forms, MailChimp and Stripe

Please note: The following article contains outdated information has since been updated. Please use the up-to-date guide here

Here at INN, we've built a lot of donation forms for our members. Over the last year, we've created a standard set of forms and integrations that you may find useful as a starting point for building your own donation forms.

Note that this is a loooooong post and if it seems overwhelming, we'd encourage you to stick with it and experiment with these tools.

If you get stuck or just want to hire us to help, we're also happy to work with you to get you up and running. Now that we've standardized a lot of this work, we're often able to get a site using our Largo WordPress platform up and running with a donation form that looks and works great in just a few hours!

Get in touch if you'd like to discuss that option.

Here we go!

We start with WordPress and Gravity Forms, and add the following plugins:

We typically use Stripe to process payments because the fees are lower and it offers more flexibility, but Gravity Forms has add-ons for PayPal and several other payment gateways if you'd prefer to use one of those.

Stripe charges 2.9% of the transaction total, plus a $0.30 flat fee per transaction (with no monthly or annual fee). We use the subtotal merge tag plugin to create a checkbox that gives users the option of paying the fees so that their entire donation amount goes to the organization they're choosing to support.

In addition to collecting money, donation forms are an excellent place to ask donors if they want to become newsletter subscribers. We add a checkbox to our default donation form and conditional logic and the Gravity Forms MailChimp Add-On to automatically add donors to an organization's mailing list.

Gravity Forms also allows you to automate the sending of receipts and donation acknowledgements and also to send notifications via email or Slack when a new donation is received.

For our sites, we've created some boilerplate code containing default styles and a clean WordPress template for use on these donation pages. We've also included importable form templates, if you'd like to use our form designs.

Does this sound like something you want to use? Read on - the full set of instructions are below.


First, get the following things:

  • Gravity Forms Developer license in order to download two of the plugins from Gravity Forms. A developer license costs $199/year and will allow you to use the plugin and any add-ons on as many sites as you would like. For INN members, we pay for a developer key for all sites we host. If you want to use our group license, just contact our support team and we'll help you get that set up.
  • Stripe API key for handling purchases. (Stripe charges a transaction fee for most accounts; following this instruction set will help you cover that transaction fee)
  • MailChimp API key for sending a newsletter to your subscribers. (MailChimp's pricing varies based on mail volume)
  • An SSL certificate (if you want to accept payments directly on your site). For sites we host, these are available for free through our hosting company (via Let's Encrypt). If you'd like us to request a certificate on your behalf, just open a support ticket and we can take care of this for you. For sites using other hosting you'll need to check with your hosting provider to see what options are available.
  • (optional) a reCaptcha site key, to help prevent spam submissions

Once you have your credentials in hand, install these plugins:

All of those must be installed manually, because they're not available in the official plugin repository. If you have FTP/SFTP access to your site, you can upload them to the plugins directory of your site using an SFTP client or similar program. has instructions on how to do this.

You can also install them from the WordPress dashboard by going to Plugins > Add New. Click on the Upload Plugin link next to the page title and you can upload the zip file of the plugin you'd like to add.

Once you've installed the plugins, you'll need to also activate them. To do this, go to the Plugins screen and find the newly uploaded plugin in the list. Then, click Activate to activate it.

For sites we host, we have to install and activate the plugins for you. If you'd like these plugins enabled on your site, just contact our support team and we'd be happy to assist.


Each add-on has a configuration section in the WordPress dashboard, at Forms > Settings.

Gravity Forms

You'll need to enter your Gravity Forms support license key in the Gravity Forms plugin settings.

Gravity Forms Stripe Add-On

The Stripe add-on has four keys that you'll need to enter:

  • Test Secret Key
  • Test Publishable Key
  • Live Secret Key
  • Live Publishable Key

You can create/access these from the API Keys tab of the Account Settings page in Stripe.

There's also a set of radio buttons for switching your site from using the Test API to the Live API. Note that you'll need to switch this both here on the settings page and in the Stripe dashboard itself. If you're using Stripe for the first time, note that you'll also need to have provided your bank information before Stripe will allow you to switch to Live mode.

Typically, when you're setting up a new form, you'll use the Test API to run some test transactions using their testing credit cards to make sure everything works before switching your form/site to Live mode.

Follow the instructions on the Stripe add-on settings page to add your site's Gravity Forms callback hook to your Stripe account. If you are testing the form on a staging site, note that the callback URL should be your live site or else the callbacks will not work properly (this is something to also double check on your site before making the new form live).

Gravity Forms MailChimp Add-On

If you're going to use your donation form to collect email addresses for your MailChimp newsletter, you need to add your MailChimp API key.

You can get a MailChimp API key by logging in to MailChimp and going to Account > Extras > API Keys. There, click on Create A Key and give it a name (something like "Gravity Forms" should suffice) and then copy the newly created key and add it to the Gravity Forms MailChimp Add-On settings in the field provided.

Create your donation form

We've created a couple of sample forms based on the forms we've developed for a few of our members/clients. We recommend importing one of these forms first so that you can examine how things are put together before attempting to create a form of your own. You might even find that one of the example forms will work well for you with very little modification!

Create form by importing

Gravity Forms allows you to import forms from JSON files, so we've provided two example donation forms that you can download and import to get started.

To import a form, save the importable .json file from either of the above links, then upload it following Gravity Forms' import instructions.

Once you've imported a form, find the form in the list of forms and click "Edit." From here you'll see the various form fields and how they're configured. Note that each of these examples uses conditional logic to show/hide certain form fields depending on the options a donor selects in the form. For more on how conditional logic works in Gravity Forms, see the relevant section of their documentation.

If you like how one of the example forms works, you can move on to setting up notifications, confirmations and the MailChimp and Stripe feeds to ensure they are set up correctly with your site's information.

Refer to the Gravity Forms documentation if you have specific questions.

Create a form from scratch

After you've imported one of the forms above and examined it to see how it's put together, you may want to try your hand at creating a form that's more tailored to the individual needs of your site.

A few general best practices for donation forms:

  • Include a default donation amount (we find that $20 is a good default for one-time donations and $10 is a better default for recurring donations) but make it easy for people to specific their own amount.
  • Provide the option to make the donation a recurring donation on a monthly or yearly basis. Both Gravity Forms and PayPal have options to set up recurring donations and this is a great way to save yourself a lot of time and effort in trying to get donors to renew their membership in the future.
  • If you're a nonprofit, you'll need a way to send a tax receipt to the donor: email addresses and postal mailing addresses both work. Personalized notes are best, particularly for first-time donors or those who have consistently supported you, but Gravity Forms also allows you to automate the sending of receipts (see the section below on setting up notifications).
  • Request as little information about a donor as possible. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to give you money and asking for too much information or having a very long form will cause many donors to give up and never complete their donation. Make sure you are only collecting information that you actually intend to use, and wherever possible, explain how that information will be used and why you're collecting it.
  • Collect the user's email address for confirmation and thank-you emails related to this transaction, but do not add them to your mailing list without their explicit permission. In most of our forms, we' do this by adding a checkbox (usually checked by default) to opt a donor into receiving further messages from the organization.
  • In general, single page donation forms are best unless the form is very long. With Stripe, you can add the necessary credit card fields at the bottom of the form directly before the submit button. With PayPal, you'll have to send a donor off to PayPal to complete the transaction. This is one of the reasons we prefer Stripe. Note that if you handle the credit card information directly on your site, you will need to have an SSL certificate that is configured correctly to serve your donation page over https.
Set up notifications

You'll probably want to receive notifications from your website when someone submits a response to the form. To do this, find your form in the list of forms, hover over it, and then click "Settings" when that text appears.

Under the "Settings" tab are at least three tabs: "Form Settings," "Confirmations," and "Notifications" are the default ones.

Under Confirmations you can set what happens when a donor submits the donation form. Gravity Forms gives you a couple options here but we typically prefer sending people to a thank you page after the form is successfully submitted. If you don't want to create a thank you page, you can also just choose to display some confirmation text.

If you want to send users to a thank you page, first you need to first create a WordPress page to send them to. Here's an example on INN's website. Once the page is created, go back to the settings for the form you're working on and click on "confirmations". Now, select the "Page" option, choose your page from the drop-down list of pages, and save the confirmation:

A screenshot of the Gravity Forms Confirmation settings, showing the choice of a "Page" confirmation with the "Thank you!" page chosen.

Under the Notifications tab, you can set which email notifications are sent when a form is submitted. Typically, you'll want to send an email to one or more members of your staff to let you know a new donation has been received and also send an email to the donor with the details of their donation.

In the INN example form, two notification emails are sent on submission:

The first one is sent to the site administrator, with a subject of {form_title} and message body of {all_fields}. These form fields surrounded by curly brackets are Gravity Forms' merge tags, and allow you to put information from the form into the email. Note that you can send notifications to multiple email addresses by adding each address separated by commas in the "send to email" field.

The second confirmation is sent to the email address provided by the donor in the form, thanking them for their donation and again using the {all_fields} merge tag so that the donor has a receipt for their donation. Note that you can use conditional logic here if you'd like to send different confirmation messages to different segments of donors based on the information they submitted. So, for example, you could send a different confirmation to one-time vs. recurring donors, or an automated response to low-dollar donors but send yourself a notification for large-dollar donors so you can send them a personalized note.

Set up the link to Stripe

The Stripe connection for each form is configured in the form's settings area, in a "Stripe" tab that appears underneath the "Notifications" tab. The Stripe settings area allows you to create different "Feeds" for this form.

A "Feed" is a type of transaction and a single form can have multiple types of transactions. In the INN example, there are three feeds: a monthly recurring donation, a yearly recurring donation, and a one-time transaction. These donation types are respectively categorized by Stripe as "subscription," "subscription," and "products and services."

You don't have to have multiple feeds. Sometimes all you want to do is create a one-time donation form. If that's the case, you can skip ahead to the "One Time Donation" example below, and ignore the "Conditional Logic" box.

When creating a donation form with multiple donation types, add a "Radio Buttons" element to let the donor choose between "Per Month," "Per Year," and "One Time".

A screenshot of a selection box for choosing between "Per Month", "Per Year", and "One Time"
An example form element with radio buttons.

Then, in the Settings area for this form, create three Stripe feeds, matching the donation types.

A screenshot of the settings page for a Monthly Recurring Stripe feed, showing the options as they are set when the INN form is imported.
A screenshot of the settings page for a Monthly Recurring Stripe feed, showing the options as they are set when the INN form is imported.
A screenshot of the settings page for a One Time Donation Stripe feed, showing the options as they are set when the INN form is imported.
A screenshot of the settings page for a One Time Donation Stripe feed, showing the options as they are set when the INN form is imported.

If you have multiple feeds set up (because you have multiple types of donation) make sure to check the "Conditional Logic" box and set it to only process that feed if the value of the "Donation Type" form element you chose is set to the radio button label that corresponds with this donation feed.

The payment amount should be "Form Total" so that you capture the processing fee, if that option is enabled.

You may also want to send over other information to Stripe so that you have other metadata associated with the "customer" record that will be created when a payment is processed. The "metadata" section here allows you to provide the name(s) of the fields as you want them to appear in Stripe and then map those to the form fields submitted on your site.

Once you have this set up, run some test transactions. Make sure that the Gravity Forms Stripe Add-On is in "Test" mode by going to Forms > Settings > Stripe and checking the "Test" option for the API. Make sure your API keys are entered. Press the "Update Settings" button to make sure. Then grab some testing credit card numbers from the Stripe website and test every option on the form, confirming with in the Stripe dashboard that the test transactions completed successfully.

Set up the link to MailChimp

Most of the sites we work with want to also give new donors the opportunity to sign up for one or more mailing lists. We use the Gravity Forms MailChimp add-on to enable this option.

Before you set up a MailChimp feed in Gravity Forms, you'll need to have already created the mailing list you want to add people to and also make sure the fields you want to send over are configured correctly in MailChimp.

Once you have the Gravity Forms MailChimp Add-On installed and enabled, a MailChimp tab will appear in the form's settings section. Here, you can configure which of the submitted form fields match up to MailChimp's fields in its database for subscribers.

There is a checkbox to enable double opt-in, so that the donor receives an email to confirm that they would like to sign up to receive your newsletter, but it's commonly assumed that by checking the "Sign me up" checkbox, your donor has consented to receiving your newsletter.

At the very bottom of the MailChimp settings tab for the form is a checkbox labeled "Conditional Logic." Check this box to show the conditional configuration options. We're going to change the conditions so that the MailChimp integration only sends the email address to MailChimp when a box is checked.

a gif showing how to change the conditional logic works
Choose the field name from the left box, the "is" equivalency option from the middle box, and the text of the checkbox from the right box.

Setting up styles for forms

The forms that you've set up above will work as-is, but they're not particularly pretty. Gravity Forms' form HTML is complex and contains some weird opinions. The stylesheets that Gravity Forms includes are similar: weirdly scoped, curiously specific, and often a bit perplexing.

There are several ways to dequeue Gravity Forms' default styles; Zack Katz has an excellent blog post detailing the ways to dequeue them.

However, because Gravity Forms' styles are at least partially useful, we keep them enqueued and modify them. Here's the modifications we make:

These example styles are scoped to the form IDs and they also depend on a wrapper class that can be added to your form settings but they may not be immediately applicable to your form if the form ID or CSS class is different. We hope that these are at least useful as a starting point.

Good luck!

We hope this was a helpful introduction on how to setup donation forms using WordPress, Gravity Forms, MailChimp and Stripe.

Again, if you found all of that overwhelming and would like to hire us to help, just reach out and we'd be happy to help get you up and running!

Welcome Kay Lima, Our New Support And Community Lead

kay-1This week we're excited to welcome Kay Lima to the team as our new support and community lead.

Kay comes to INN most recently from a marketing firm in New York City where she has supported clients and users through her roles as a client-facing project manager and digital marketing manager. She has worked on various WordPress, Drupal, and custom technology projects. She also holds a degree in Music from Salem State University, is certified in Inbound Marketing and Google Analytics, and is a graduate of a renowned full-stack coding bootcamp.

At INN, Kay will be leading front-line support for our member organizations and consulting clients and will also be responsible for creating documentation, training and other resources to assist publishers in the adoption and use of our Largo WordPress platform and the other tools we build and support.

Her first day is Wednesday, January 18th. We're thrilled to have her on board and I hope you'll join me in welcoming her to the team!

Busy Week

We've had a busy week here and wanted to share a bit more about some of the sites and projects we've launched this week.

Largo 0.5.5

largo-sqEarlier this week we announced the latest release of Largo, our WordPress framework for news websites. We've been hard at work on that release for about the last nine months and it has some significant improvements to things like photo galleries, byline formatting and social network integration as well as a number of bug fixes, smaller improvements and features for developers. You can read the full release notes for all the details.

We've also started the process of updating all of the member sites we host to this new version and making some important infrastructure changes that we hope will make your sites even more stable and easier to work on. More on that shortly and we'll be reaching out to you individually to set the timeline for updating your site to the latest version in the coming weeks.

As the launch release noted, this will be the last major release for the current Largo codebase. We've reached a point in the project (now four years in, believe it or not) where we feel like we need to step back, re-architect and redesign a lot of things in the project to make ensure we're able to keep up with the rapid growth and demand we've seen for the tools we build. We'll be sharing a lot more about that process as it unfolds and we're excited to share that work with you in the coming months!

Mississippi Today

mississippi-today-screenshotWe also launched a redesign (using Largo) for Mississippi Today. They had launched a very basic site using Largo a few months ago to get their new publication off the ground but then asked us if we could do some more custom design work for them.

The result was some illustration work by our very talented design apprentice, Gabriel Hongsdusit, and some other custom design work to polish up the typography and develop a more refined color palette and style patterns for use throughout the site.

Gabe wrote an excellent post about his process earlier this week.

In the process of building the new site, we also added a neat new feature to Largo that makes it easier for developers to add interstitial donation messages and signup widgets in rivers of stories (on the homepage, topic pages, etc.). Using this feature in conjunction with our Super Cool Ad Inserter Plugin now makes it easy to add these sorts of messages (or advertisements, if your site has them) directly in the flow of the content on your site where they're more likely to be noticed.

Kinsey Confidential

Earlier this week we also launched a new website for Kinsey Confidential, a project of the Kinsey Institute and School of Public Health at Indiana University. They run a podcast and blog providing research-based sexual health information to college-aged readers. We worked collaboratively with a designer at IU, Alan Milner, and then did some additional design work, content migration and development to migrate the site to Largo.

Here's the before/after:


The Observatory

wiscOne more Largo site launched this week, The Observatory. This is a project at the University of Wisconsin journalism school that it teaching students how to improve their fact-checking while also developing a statewide resource to hold those in power accountable. We built the site using Largo and then added some additional functionality to make it easy for students to rate fact-checks on a four point scale and display appropriate graphics for site visitors.

City Limits: ZoneIn

zoneinLast but certainly not least, launching today is the new project ZoneIn from City Limits, funded by the Ford Foundation, where they'll be covering a series of zoning proposals in New York City.

We worked with City Limits to develop a new section of their website (which was already using Largo). We extended the custom landing page functionality in Largo to provide a more focused experience for the project pages that almost feels like a site within a site.

They're also making use of Largo's optional series and post types taxonomies and an additional Neighborhoods custom taxonomy to create landing pages for each of the zoning proposals that include recent news, project status, a listing of public meetings and more. They're also accepting community commentary and hope to have a vibrant discussion about each project over time.

Work With Us

Want to join our team and work with us to build and support projects like this? We're hiring.

Want to hire us for an upcoming project? Get in touch.

Announcing Largo 0.5.5

We're excited to announce the latest release of Largo, our WordPress framework for news websites.

This is a big release that we've been working on for the past nine months or so and it includes a lot of great new features we think you'll love as well as a bunch of smaller improvements and bug fixes. You can see the complete list in the official release notes.

Here are a few highlights:

Redesigned photo galleries

The photo galleries in Largo were inherited from Project Argo and were looking pretty dated. We completely redesigned the galleries to make the design more minimal to focus more on your photos while also ensuring a better mobile experience for your readers. We also added support for full-screen viewing (a very common request we've heard from a number of sites). Here's what the galleries looked like Before:


and After:


We also added support for a grid view of photos to better support the "columns" attribute you see in the settings when you create a gallery in WordPress (thanks to Rivard Report's photo editor Scott Ball for this suggestion). So now when you set that option:


You're able to display your photos in a grid view (with the ability to click to view them as a full-screen slideshow):


Improved byline functionality and support for multiple authors

Previous iterations of Largo included some byline enhancements to support multiple authors (using the popular Co-Authors Plus plugin) and showing a "time since" dateline instead of an absolute date. In this version we've added a number of additional improvements, including the ability to display author avatar images directly in the byline:


We also included better support for the optional job title field available in Largo user profiles. Some sites use this for job titles and some have been using it to identify partner organizations:


Additionally, for posts that have been updated after they were originally published, we now show the date and time the post was last updated at the top of the body of your story. There are also a number of general improvements to Co-Authors Plus compatibility and support for guest authors.

Better social network integration

As you may have noticed in the byline example above, we've also added better support for additional social networks.

For non-developers, there are some additional social networks in the Appearance > Theme Options section of the dashboard (most notably, support for Instagram and Pinterest). Once you add the links to the relevant social networks you'll see the icons/links appear in the header/footer and also in any Largo Follow widgets you may have added to your site. On a related note we've also updated the Largo Follow, Facebook and Twitter widgets to support the latest and greatest from each of the social networks.

For developers there are some additional hooks and filters that allow you to easily add additional social networks to the sharing tools on article pages and also the theme options and related widgets. If you're not a developer but you'd like to add this support for your site, we're happy to help with that as part of our paid consulting services. Just get in touch with us and we can discuss how best to accomplish what you're trying to do.

Better admin user-experience for featured media

In a previous release we added some powerful new functionality that extended the default WordPress featured image functionality to support photo galleries, videos and other embedded media. Unfortunately, adding a new button for this above the Post window proved confusing to people, as did the option to override the automatic display of featured media at the top of the post.

We've moved this functionality back to the default location in WordPress (in the right column of the Post Edit screen) and also made it much easier to find the checkbox to override the default display of featured media on a per-post basis (useful if you want to just show the thumbnail image on the homepage but include the photo elsewhere in your story instead of at the very top).


We've also added support for featured media to the legacy two-column post template. We still recommend using the single-column template in almost every instance. To make this transition possible, we have released a number of recent plugins (mostly notable the Super Cool Ad Inserter) that should make it easy to insert advertising, donation messages and signup widgets without needing a sidebar or right rail on article pages. Your mobile users, particularly, will thank you for making this change. If you're not quite ready to make that leap, however, we're now pleased to at least give you the same featured media support that we incorporated into our new default article template in the last Largo release.

...and much more.


To everyone who contributed to this release, including community contributions from yayannabellejmusalntwbMsPseudolus and rclations (before he joined our team).

There are also some new features in this release that were originally built for a few of our recent clients which have now been open sourced so that all can benefit. So, a huge thanks to Rivard Report, Religion News Service, Mississippi Today and others who, in one way or another, contributed to some of this work.

Get The Latest

For INN member sites that we host, we'll be rolling out this update over the next couple of weeks. We're also making some infrastructure changes at the same time to improve reliability of your sites so we'll be reaching out individually over the coming weeks to coordinate scheduling for the updates.

For sites that we don't host, the update is available now to download from Github (zip file). We do strongly recommend that you apply updates to Largo as your time and resources allow. Keeping the Largo parent theme up to date will ensure you have, at times, critical bug fixes, the latest features and will also help us to provide better support when you come to us with questions. As with all major updates, we recommend testing the update on a staging site before updating your live site. If you require assistance with making the update, we're happy to help either through our weekly office hours or our paid consulting services. Get in touch if you need a hand.

What's Next?

This is the last planned release for the current Largo codebase. Over the next few months we'll be starting a process to take the work we've done over the first four years of the project and re-architect the core Largo framework to make it more modular, flexible and easier to use.

These planned improvements will make it easier for you to pick and choose the components you want to use for your site instead of having to sort through a bunch of options and configuration settings. We will also release a number of components as standalone WordPress plugins so you can take advantage of the work we've done without necessarily having to use the entire Largo theme in its present form.

Finally, we also plan to have a number of new WordPress themes built using this framework that will have incorporate much of the newer design work you may have seen on some of our more recent projects.

In short, we hope to keep the best of what has made Largo such a popular platform for newsrooms but make it easier for you to use and easier for us to maintain and improve.

You'll be hearing a lot more about that process soon and we're excited to share the work as it progresses!

Recent Staffing Changes + We’re Hiring!

Wanted to make a quick announcement of some recent staffing changes here at INN.

Jack BrightonLast week we said goodbye to our Support, Documentation and Training Manager, Jack Brighton. Jack has decided to move on and possibly go back to school so he has wrapped up his time here as of Friday, October 28. We're sad to see him go but grateful for all of the contributions he made in the year he was with us, particularly the work he did to get our support process better organized, some notable improvements to documentation for Largo and some of our other projects, and his assistance in putting together our tech and product training event in Chicago last month. Best of luck, Jack, in your next chapter!

We have posted a new position that encompasses some of the same responsibilities (but with a few tweaks here and there). It's a bit less focused on training and a bit more on building community around the products we build. If this sounds like a good fit for you, we'd love to chat. Check out the full posting and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or want to discuss before applying. We'll likely start interviewing for that in a couple weeks and you can read more about our interview/hiring process in this post.

Fran Scarlett

Finally, we're thrilled to welcome Fran Scarlett to INN as our new Director of Programs and Services. You can read more about her and this new role over on the main INN site, but in short, she comes to INN most recently from the University of North Carolina where she was regional director of the Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC). She'll be leading INN's business training, coaching and professional services. She starts on November 17th and we're really excited to have the opportunity to work with her to make a difference for INN member organizations. Welcome to the team, Fran!

December News Nerd Book Club Selection: Notes On The Synthesis Of Form

41po1bthfjl-_sx302_bo1204203200_First, a quick bit of housekeeping:

We've decided to make a change to the schedule for the News Nerd Book Club meetings and hold them every other month (instead of every month). They will still be on the second Wednesday of the month from 1 - 2 pm ET. We just felt that it would easier on everyone and also give us a little more flexibility in choosing longer books if we all had a little more time to read and prepare.

So, with that out of the way, the book we'll be discussing at our next meeting (on December 14) will be Christopher Alexander's Notes on the Synthesis of Form.

Here's a link for the video chat (using where you can join us on Dec. 14 at 1 ET.

Happy reading!

How We Turned Nonprofit News Leaders Into Budding Product Managers at #INNProduct

Last week we hosted #INNProduct, a workshop in Chicago for about 20 newsroom leaders from INN and LION member organizations.

The goal was to help them become more effective at managing technology at their organizations while also providing an introduction to design thinking and product management.

That's a lot to cover in two days, but fortunately we had a number of great speakers and mentors to help. Here's a rundown of the sessions and some resources speakers have shared for folks who weren't able to join us.

Congratulations, you’re a product manager! 

Rebekah Monson of WhereBy.Us introduced everyone to product management, helping them think not just about telling great stories but also how to distribute those stories, who they want to reach, what impact they want to have and, above all, how to turn that into a business. Congratulations, you’re a product manager! View her presentation.

Planning and budgeting for tech projects 

Amanda Krauss, now an independent consultant but most recently of the Texas Tribune, and Adam Schweigert of INN talked about planning and budgeting for tech projects, sharing lessons we've learned over our years of managing projects and tools and techniques to eliminate the guesswork, including INN's project definition template and our process documentation.

Beyond pageviews: Getting the most out of analytics and impact tracking 

Lauren Fuhrmann of Wisconsin Watch and Ryan Sholin of Chalkbeat presented an overview of the latest best practices around measurement and impact tracking. View their presentation.

10 Ways to Recruit & Manage Talent Without An HR Department

To kick off day two, Andrew Ramsammy of UnitedPublic Strategies shared tips for recruiting and managing talent at small organizations including how to build a world-class team that is as diverse and inclusive as the audiences and communities you serve. View his presentation.

Planning and executing successful data projects

Julia Smith of INN and Fernando Diaz of Reveal/CIR talked about how to plan and budget for data and editorial projects, work effectively with news technologists and create impactful stories that drive change. View their presentation.

User-centered design on a shoestring

To close out the event, Kyle Ellis of the Society for News Design talked about how to bring design thinking into your organization without breaking the bank and then led a workshop to introduce everyone the design thinking process. View his presentation.

Thanks so much to everyone who came and a special thanks to the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Knight-Mozilla OpenNews, the Society for News Design, Columbia College Chicago and LION Publishers for their support of the event!

We hope to repeat this workshop next year and we'd love to have you. Sign up for our newsletter to find out about future events we put on!

October Book Club Selection: Design For Real Life

Our October News Nerd Book Club selection is Design For Real Life by Sara Wachter-Boettcher and Eric Meyer.

From the description on the book's website:

Join Sara Wachter-Boettcher and Eric Meyer as they turn examples from more than a dozen sites and services into a set of principles you can apply right now. Whether you’re a designer, developer, content strategist, or anyone who creates user experiences, you’ll gain the practical knowledge to test where your designs might fail (before you ship!), vet new features or interactions against more realistic scenarios, and build a business case for making decisions through a lens of kindness. You can’t know every user, but you can develop inclusive practices that support a wider range of people. This book will show you how.

We'll be meeting via Zoom video call at 1 pm ET on Wednesday, October 12.

Here's the call link or you can join by phone at  (408) 638-0968; Meeting ID: 303 159 956.

Hope to see in a few weeks!

Nerd Alert 84: Robot Love


What we're reading this week

  Adam: As a firm believer that the design of digital products should learn from and extend the design of the physical world, a reminder that midcentury modern design has a lot to teach us.

  Ben: One Second Code is a neat interactive demonstrator of how fast computers can be.

  Gabe: Illustrator Elenor Kopka has a delightfully weird animation that is creepy, psychedelic and just plain adorable. Check out her spectacular, interactive portfolio here.

  Jack: The Vox Storytelling Studio is exploring some interesting new models for digital newsby putting the “product” team smack in the middle of the “news” team. Hey, maybe we’re all part of the same team.

  Julia: This Poynter piece about bots and bylines received some important feedback aboutnewsroom developers and editorial authority.

  RC: This compilation of resources on paid & sustainable open source development is worth thumbing through.

  Inndy: ???


This week's guest contributor

Our guest this week is Rachel Schallom (@rschallom), senior editor for interactives at Fusion.

It’s been really wonderful to shift the focus in the interactive world from politics to the Olympics. This is an awesome combination of well thought-out data visualizations and animations incomparing Michael Phelps to himself. Lately I’ve felt like the NYT’s color palette has been more focused, and the projects have better flow because of it.

Want to be a guest contributor for a future edition of this newsletter? Learn how and shoot us an email at if you're interested. We'd love to hear from you!


Work we admire by our journalism peers

In case you missed it: a really helpful step-by-step guide from McClatchy developer Greg Linch on how to get an instance of open-source data visualization tool Datawrapper running on your own server.


We love you back

Please consider supporting this newsletter with a donation to INN.

Or if you'd rather contribute content over cash, be a guest contributor! Read more about that here and shoot us an email at if you're interested. We'd love to hear from you.

Thanks much!


Come learn with us

September 14 - Join us at 1 ET for our monthly News Nerd Book Club discussion. This month we'll be reading Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture by Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green.

September 28-29 - INN is hosting a two-day event for news leaders to discuss everything you need to know about managing technology and product design in your news organization. Travel stipends for INN members are available and we just added some new speakers/mentors. Hope to see you there!


Good jobs with good people

INN is hiring a program director and an operations manager.

St. Louis Public Radio is hiring a digital and special projects editor.

Reveal...revealed a new investigative fellowship for emerging journalists of color.

Texas Tribune is looking for a front-end engineer.

And the Online News Association is hiring a new digital manager.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, the main INN newsletter had 26 JOB OPENINGS this week. Check it out and sign up here if you'd like to get that in your inbox every week. We'll pretend to not be jealous.


Gather ye rosebuds

READ: Women's gymnastics deserves better TV coverage.

WATCH: Peter Peterlini's greatest hits.

BUILD: A walking table. Because why not?

EAT: Help Eater collect the worst restaurant names in existence.

Come for the links, stay for the latest innovations in mass transit.