by Gary Swick, FOFR President
For a non-profit organization, finding financial support for their important work is always a challenge. Friends of the Fox River (FOFR) has a long and strong reputation for incredible achievements from volunteer efforts. FOFR is now at a point where we are expanding our services, programming, geographic influence, membership capacity, and staff. These efforts are demanding substantial resources.
Making Raising Funds Fun!
When I solicit financial support for our work, I’m not looking for a gift. I believe I’m offering an opportunity to invest and support something that the potential donor is already dedicated to. By contributing to our upcoming “No Clean Water No Good Beer” event, you are supporting the work of FOFR. The beer is just a perk for you and me. It’s a way to put the fun in a FUNdraiser!
FOFR relies on a variety of funding sources. But the most substantial single contribution to operations is our annual fundraiser, “No Clean Water No Good Beer”. It has been a highly successful event in raising essential funds while also raising some much needed fun in our efforts to improve local water quality.
Growing Pains and Pleasures
FOFR is expanding its outreach education services which require us to increase our staff. Our support vehicle, “The Dragon Wagon” (pictured) can’t be fixed anymore, it needs replacement. The Schweitzer Environmental Center is becoming much more in demand by local schools, which requires some improvements, repairs and increased maintenance. Also expanding are our efforts to directly engage FOFR members and the public in our events, advocacy and water quality monitoring projects.
A wonderful example of the priceless value of volunteers is seen in our Fox Rescue clean ups. FOFR partners with municipalities and affiliates like the Elgin Police Department, governmental representatives like Anna Moeller, sister organizations like the Valley of the Fox Sierra Club & Illinois Paddling Council, local businesses, and motivated members to sponsor and conduct shoreline clean ups.
Last year, a FOFR member, Jennifer Grommes, stepped forward to organize six additional “on the water” clean ups. She recruited friends and the public, produced, and conducted the events that generally went from one Kane County Forest Preserve District (KCFPD) site to the next downstream.
The crew (pictured) filled floating rafts, canoes, and the “Garbage Barge” with an impressive amount of river trash. Jennifer secured the sponsorship of the Village Squire to provide refreshments to participants. Either the local municipality or the KCFPD disposed of the resulting trash. This is a wonderful example of extraordinary volunteer efforts and strong partner support. Even though most of the physical work of a cleanup is done by volunteer labor, cleanups also require supplies and insurance which takes MONEY!
Partners and Parties
Ecological restoration is another area where we rely heavily on individual volunteers and partnerships. The Villages of Carpentersville and East Dundee along with patrons from Rosie O’Hare’s have helped with shoreline stabilization and invasive species removal along Water Street and the river. The Illinois Small Mouth Alliance also collaborated with FOFR with “water willow” shoreline planting projects.
I usually attend our national partner River Network’s annual “River Rally” (see June newsletter and blog). The conference is an opportunity for me to compare our work to other groups. I can confidently boast that FOFR is doing more with less than almost any watershed protection group! That sounds like a bold statement, but we are active in a wide variety of projects and initiatives and work effectively with very limited resources.
We Get By With A Little Help From….YOU!
Volunteers in the field are essential to the success of FOFR. I log nearly 1000 volunteer hours a year acting as President, serving on committees, participating on other related boards, overseeing the outreach education programs, maintaining partnerships, and working to fulfill the FOFR mission. And for doing all that, I think you owe me a beer!
But not everyone can volunteer or log those kind of hours. So volunteering to financially support FOFR is just as important to help us to “Keep on Fixin’ the Fox”. By attending “No Clean Water, No Good Beer, you are supporting the important work FOFR does. Your membership/admission, bids in the raffles and auctions, and joining in our celebration, are all significant and very appreciated contributions. If you cannot attend the event, please offer a substantial donation by clicking here. Thank you.