Organization representing professional journalists urges potential donors to think about democracy this Giving Tuesday, and in the year ahead
The refrain for the past few years by many political pundits is that democracy is in peril. The Illinois News Broadcasters Association (INBA) believes that democracy can only survive if the role of the well-trained journalist is respected, supported, and continues to be upheld in courts of law.
The INBA 20 years ago established a foundation to raise money for scholarships to support young people with an interest in telling stories, pursuing truth, and continuing to serve as the watchdog of power as enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
At its recent convention in Bloomington, the Foundation board, an arm of the association charged with raising money for scholarships, agreed to launch a “20 for 20” campaign. The initiative has the simple goal of leveraging small, individual donations of $20 to reach a fundraising goal of $20,000 within the next 12 months. The money will be added to the endowment that generates money to award four scholarships yearly.
INBA Foundation President H. Wayne Wilson stresses, “We know many journalists don’t earn high salaries until they’ve reached the biggest markets, so asking $20 from our members and from those who support journalism seemed like a reasonable challenge. Members of the INBA Foundation board of directors have donated and will match the first $1,200 raised through individual contributions.”
There are many requests coinciding with Giving Tuesday but the INBA is extending its request for $20 to be made any time in the next 12 months of its campaign.
Most recently, the INBA-F has been able to award $2,250 to each of the four scholarship recipients. The Foundation operates autonomously, generating income to fund scholarships while not participating in the selection process. Our investment goal is to maximize income while achieving equity growth primarily through contributions.
The IRS granted the INBA-F status as a 501(c) 3 charity 20 years ago, which means contributions are tax deductible. Donors will receive an email or letter (whichever is provided) acknowledging their contribution. To date, the efforts by the Foundation have allowed the INBA to grant more than 200 scholarships worth more than $180,000 over the years.
Jennifer Fuller was among those scholarship recipients. She is a past president of INBA and now serves on the Foundation board. Her scholarship meant more to her than simply providing financial support.
“It was a recognition of my talents and helped provide the confidence I needed to continue pursuing my degree,” says Fuller. “I am now passionate about raising money for scholarships because I believe so much in the importance of encouraging young journalists and rewarding them for achievements.”
“We live in an information-driven society and some might argue with information so readily available, traditional journalism isn’t needed,” Foundation Board Vice President Colleen Reynolds is quick to emphasize to would-be donors. “A blogger or columnist is not necessarily a journalist. The journalist not only provides information, but puts that information into context, using data and analytical skills, plus well-vetted sources; often offering comparative and historical analysis – part of the unbiased process of journalism to convey the closest thing to truth. It is important that the best and the brightest get financial support and encouragement to pursue training and a career in what we believe remains a noble and necessary profession.”
Former US Senator and presidential candidate Paul Simon of southern Illinois once told the INBA in a convention address, that with the shrinking middle class, “it will be increasingly important to have journalists who are willing to show the ‘haves’ in society, the world of the ‘have nots.'” The INBA-F encourages readers to consider a donation of $20 or more to support its scholarship program that encourages those with the passion and commitment to continue to meet the challenge as proposed by this beloved Illinois leader.
Tax-deductible contributions to the INBA-F can be made at www.inba.net by clicking the Donate to Scholarships button on the top taskbar. Checks can be mailed in to the INBA Foundation c/o Treasurer, 5715 Fawn Lake Road, Shelbyville, MI 49344.