Thursday, June 2, 2011
Effective yesterday, the assets of the struggling Religion News Service (RNS) were transferred to a new section 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with the section 501(c)(3) Religion Newswriters Foundation, which in turn is affiliated with the section 501(c)(6) Religion Newswriters Association. RNS' mission statement is "RNS' first priority is to provide intelligent, objective coverage of all religions-Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Asian religions and private spirituality. RNS also provides commentary from a diverse array of all points of the political and theological spectrum."
According to an RNS press release, the Lilly Endowment facilitated the transfer by making a three year, nearly $3.5 million grant to help with the transition. The transfer was apparently delayed by a lengthy IRS application process of the new entity, showing the timeliness of calls as far back as 2009 for the IRS to provide guidance regarding nonprofit new sources. The eventual IRS approval also demonstrates, however, that such conversions are at least sometimes possible without new legislation. The for-profit company Advance Publications, Inc. had owned RNS since 1994, and was paid an undisclosed amount for transferring RNS' assets to the new owner, Religion News LLC. Professor Debra L. Mason (Missouri School of Journalism), who also serves as the Executive Director of RNF and RNA, will manage the new organization.