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BY LISA BALLARD
As President of OWAA, I feel our organization’s financial matters are among the most important things for me to monitor. While OWAA is not yet clear of its financial challenges, I’m pleased to write we’re no longer dangling over a precipice by a slim thread. We’ve now got at least a sturdy climbing rope.
There are a number of reasons why I’m breathing a little easier:
OWAA balanced its budget last year. It’s a tight one, but it’s not in the red, thanks to Executive Director Tom Sadler’s adroit management of our cash flow. I’m confident we’ll do the same again in 2015.
Membership is growing. At the first board meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee, Sadler reported membership numbers had dropped, but then rose back to the same level as 2014. By the time you read this, I’m optimistic that our membership numbers will finally be higher compared to the previous year for the first time in the last decade.
We’ll repay our loan. Sadler also recently informed me that we would repay the portion of our loan to operations from the Restricted Endowment Fund that’s due at the end of 2015 on schedule.
Our endowment is growing. PastPresident Rich Patterson, who has agreed to chair the Development Committee for a second year, has laid the groundwork for long term giving to OWAA’s Restricted Endowment with the goal of growing it from $230,000 to several million dollars. It’s going to take time, but Patterson’s vision is to accumulate enough money in the Restricted Endowment to allocate a small portion of the interest earned each year to support a large portion of OWAA’s operations. Imagine what OWAA could do across all aspects of our mission with such a strong financial backbone.
All members of the Board of Directors and most life members, including past-presidents, have already donated to this effort.
I hope you will join me in giving annually, even if it’s only $5 per year. Every little bit helps, and those fivers add up over time.
We received a $5,000 challenge gift. We have the chance to add a much-needed $10,000 to our operating budget thanks to a challenge gift by a generous former board member. For every dollar that you give, he will match it, up to $5,000, so it is an opportunity to raise $10,000 total, but there’s a catch: The donations must be received by OWAA by the end of 2015.
I asked you to consider giving your time to OWAA in my last column. Now I ask you to give money, too. If this sounds like a lot of giving, it doesn’t need to be. How about volunteering to mentor a green-ribbon attendee at the Billings, Montana conference in July? It might be an editor with whom you’ve been dying to work. If you order a regular coffee instead of a latte and skip the cranberry-orange scone next time you’re in Starbucks, you would free up that $5 for a donation.
Whether you give only your time, your cash, or both, I guarantee you’ll be pleased with your return on investment.
My husband Jack Ballard, who has been involved in a number of fundraising efforts in his past roles as an OWAA board member and treasurer, reminds me that OWAA is different from say a museum, hospital or conservation group which attracts members because they believe in a cause or community philanthropy. OWAA is a professional organization. Most of us join to bolster our careers as outdoor communicators through networking and professional development opportunities, to get story ideas and earn recognition for our work. A stronger OWAA will offer more professional development opportunities for you, more Marketplace listings, better prizes for the Excellence in Craft Contests, more chances to showcase your work, better conferences, more supporters… the list goes on and on.
When you receive your membership renewal form, please put an amount, any amount, on at least one of the donation lines. Or do it on OWAA’s website, www.owaa.org. The healthier OWAA is financially, the more it can do for you.
Thank you for your generosity. Your contribution will make both you and OWAA a more successful “Voice of the Outdoors.” ♦
— OWAA President Lisa Ballard, firstname.lastname@example.org