Friday, January 18, 2013

Force multipliers

Hitting folks up for money doesn't come easily to most of us, and when it comes to "the ask," we board members of the Chicago Chess Center have a lot to learn.  But as I write, we've raised $6,920 (Keith Ammann's tally, which is within a few dollars of my own) in this fundraising campaign.  That's $6,920 more than we could have raised without your support. And we are only counting monies actually in hand or held by third parties: some generous people have made some significant pledges, and I know that with continued support from the community, we're going to get this done.

Counting birds in the hand only and including a 1/15/2013 check in the mail from Network for Good, we  have the following assets as of 6 p.m. (very unofficially):
  • $5,741.55 in our US Bank checking account
  • $1,114.50 sitting at Donate Now (net of processing fees: thank you to all those who chose to cover the 3% processing cost!)
  • $150.00 coming from
  • $50.00 in donated tournament prizes coming via ICA
There are some small January disbursements not yet picked up in this total and some small reimbursements (slightly higher than the January disbursements) receivable from board members' pledges.

The bottom line is that we have yet to spend one penny of the money we've raised from the public, and we even have a few dollars more.  The generosity of folks who would rather remain nameless have made this frugality possible.  But please allow me to drop the name of one person to whom the entire Chicago chess community owes decades of gratitude: our dear friend Les Bale.

And we don't intend to spend a penny of money we raise from the public on anything other than opening and operating the Chicago Chess Center. Speaking for myself, we owe you that duty!

Mail delivery in Chicago is much better than its reputation, but the odds are good that the checks you mail this evening (Chicago Chess Center NFP Inc., 230 W. Monroe, Suite 330, Chicago IL 60606) probably won't reach us by midnight tonight.  So please don't hesitate to email your pledges to us over the weekend.  The board meets this coming Tuesday: anything we receive (Web donations or email pledges) between now and 5 p.m. Tuesday will help us make our next move.

As CCC President Keith Ammann wrote earlier today, "The amount we raise in the next 12 hours will determine when we can secure a site, open our doors, and begin holding classes and tournamentsand how other supporters of Chicago chess will feel about giving. Will you help us open on our target date of May 1?"  I think we can still open by May 1st, but we can't do it alone.

We want to make affordable, quality chess instruction available to everyone from ambitious adults to disadvantaged youth. As we learn through competition, we want to bring weekly USCF-rated tournaments back to the city. We want to help the chess community grow so that existing organizations flourish. We want to promote chess education and chess culture. And we want everyone to have fun in the process.

Utopian? Probably. But I remember what a great place Jules Stein's Chicago Chess Center was in the 1980s: it was very real, and it was a wonderful Chicago institution.  After Jules passed away, so eventually did the center. Similarly, when "Papa Dee" died in the late 1990s (it seems like only yesterday that I spoke at his funeral), the Chicago Chess Club folded soon afterwards.

Crunch the numbers, folks. Chess education is a bargain, and it really shouldn't be hard to establish a new nonprofit chess center that will be here for the rest of our lives, and (we hope) remain for Chicagoans after we're gone. Please make your tax-deductible donation now.

Again, if your cash flow doesn't allow you to donate immediately, kindly consider making a pledge today in an amount that fits your budget.  Every dollar you donate is a vote for the future of the Chicago Chess Center. 

There are other ways to be a force multiplier. We need new members, fundraising rainmakers, informal advisors, well-wishers, and friends. Board development is crucial for a nonprofit startup: who knows, you might know the ideal person to be the next President of the Chicago Chess Center. Or you might even be that person.

I personally want to thank every one of you who has donated so far: your support has been humbling and gratifying.  We promise that we won't let you down!

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