Africa Check is a registered non-profit organisation with offices, today, in Johannesburg, Dakar, Lagos, Nairobi and London. We are registered in South Africa as a non-profit Trust, and in the UK in the form of a Community Interest Company or CIC.
Fact-checking of the sort that we do takes time and money. Our initial funding came from a news innovation contest organised by Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) – with funding from Google. Since then the majority of our income has come in the form of grants from a wide variety of philanthropic organisations.
The initiative received crucial initial support-in-kind from the non-profit foundation of the AFP news agency and the Journalism Department of the University of the Witwatersrand. We today share offices with the journalism department at WITS in Johannesburg, the EJICOM journalism in Dakar, AFP in Lagos, and the UK fact-checking organisation Full Fact in London.
We take our independence very seriously at Africa Check and have taken a strategy of diversifying our sources of income since we launched. Today, we have funding from more than half a dozen major philanthropic organisations, supplemented by donations from individual members of the public who support our work and, since 2015, income earned by our commercial division, TRi Facts, which provides paid training and research services to media houses, businesses and non-profit organisations in South Africa and elsewhere.
Income since 2012
Since we were set up, we have managed to increase income, enabling us to extend our work in South Africa and to expand our operations to Senegal, Kenya and Nigeria, as well as operating awards and training programmes to promote fact-checking more widely.
From an initial start-up grant worth £45,648 in 2012, to £81,868 in 2013, £131,459 in 2014, £150,517 in 2015, and an estimated £572,847 in 2016. The 2016 figure will be updated after our audit in April/May.
How we spend it
Fact-checking is a time-consuming, and for now at least, labour-intensive business. More than 75% of our costs go directly to researching and publishing our reports or providing fact-checking training services. Our accounts are audited each year by independent auditors Knox Cropper, a London-based accountancy firm, specialised in the non-profit area.
Our funders and other partners
Africa Check is grateful to the following journalism and fact-checking organisations for support received since we were founded in 2012: the AFP Foundation, the Journalism Department of the University of the Witwatersrand, EJICOM, a journalism school in Dakar, Senegal and FullFact.
For the financial year, 2016, the breakdown of our income by source is as follows.
Putting Africa Check on track for the future
We want Africa Check to be around for a long time to ensure we can play our part in scrutinising the claims that public figures, institutions and the media make.
To do that, we need to put our finances on a sound long-term footing and, as a first step, we launched in 2015 TRi Facts, our Training, Research & Information services unit. At the same time, we have started to reach out to our readers and supporters for their support too. And together, we hope to build up this support to account for more than 20% of our total revenue in 2017 and 30% in the following year.
Doing this as we expand our operations to new parts of the continent is ambitious. But doing it should indeed help to put the organisation on track to a long-term future.