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Donors ask, 'do your members give?'.

Like any good editorial writer, let me make just two major points in my first column as Foundation president.

The NCEW Foundation exists solely to raise money to pay for professional development programs and publications that will improve opinion pages everywhere. The Foundation cajoles, entreats, and I hope charms supporters into giving generously to make opinion pages better. It has no other purpose but to provide NCEW the money to help editors and their pages get better.

When my Foundation colleagues and I go out to seek money from charitable foundations and other sources who have an interest in journalism, they'll ask, "What percentage of your members contribute to the NCEW Foundation?" If the answer is that the percentage of donors is low, the foundations will be much less inclined to approve grants to us. The principle is simple: If NCEW members don't care enough about the organization's work to give to their own Foundation, why should other foundations or even individual newspapers respond?

This is no idle threat. The NCEW Foundation needs the active, annual support of a huge portion of its members each year in order to be able to raise a lot more money outside the organization.

The NCEW Foundation, working closely with President Lynnell Burkett and David Holwerk, head of the Development Committee of NCEW, has a number of concrete ideas for attracting money. We even have the temerity to think that we can raise enough to endow the Minority Writers Seminar or to create a growing pool of money to hold an ambitious schedule of regional seminars throughout the country. Or to find sources for foreign travel opportunities. Or to get sponsors for publications of The Masthead, which costs about $6,000 a pop. We are serious about an organized, ongoing, and well-defined fundraising program that will make NCEW even more successful than it is. We are setting priorities now and conjuring up ways to meet goals that will improve NCEW. By offering more and better opportunities to NCEW members, we think we can strengthen the organization immeasurably.

NCEW already is a great organization for professional development. But we can make it better.

To do so, we need to raise more money. This is not crass talk, I assure you. We have been limping along the past few years because of a poor economy. Every nonprofit organization I know has been hit hard, and we are no different. At one precipitous decline in 2002, the Foundation's investment fund had lost more than $100,000 because of a poor market. Today, we have about $347,228 in hand The idea is to build these funds so that we can endow specific programs. Then we don't have to scramble each year just to meet annual costs.

In order to persuade organizations with the ability to give us large grants, NCEW Foundation requires your support.

Many convention participants contribute through the Foundation Celebration, in which donors compete for prizes donated by other members. Journalists attending the convention have been generous. But we need to reach deeply into the organization to make sure that each year we can say that an overwhelming percentage of our members contributed.

We began regional conferences to help those editors who could not attend national conventions. Similarly, we need to reach out to potential Foundation donors in our own organization who don't attend the convention and, hence, don't contribute to the Foundation through the Celebration events.

In terms of our ability to raise money from outside sources, the size of individual contributions by NCEW members isn't tremendously important. What is critical is the percentage of participation. We need to raise the number of people giving each year to the Foundation.

I hope you'll take the time to consider annual donation--at whatever level you can afford--to the NCEW Foundation. We're dedicated to helping you improve your opinion pages and be a better editor and writer.

My check's in the mail. What about yours?

Morgan McGinley is editorial page editor of The Day in New London, Connecticut. E-mail
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Title Annotation:NCEW Foundation: projects and programs for journalism education
Author:McGinley, Morgan
Publication:The Masthead
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 22, 2004
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