Mountains of Money Out There
By Matthew Richardson
There is simply no reason why we of Minnesota Atheists should be struggling to get members to tithe or donate mere dollars when, if we used our brains (which atheists, as a community, have plenty of) we could get hundreds of thousands of dollars from rich atheists. We’ve never tried this in the past, so let’s give it a shot now!
We never had a committee on Grant Writing. There are 15 books on grant-writing that can be borrowed from the Hennepin Public Library system. We could organize our own classes on grant writing, before paying for grant-writing classes at Normandale Community College. What could we get if we made the intellectual effort? I envision a two-story building: 15 rooms plus large meeting hall to hold 500 people, swimming pool, dining hall, a restaurant/bar combo, and a trust fund to pay for insurance and utilities for the next 50 years. The number of rooms I suggest will be to rent out to people who are also working toward separation and humanistic goals.
People with billions look more favorably at requests for big proposals than little stuff. In our grant proposal, we can already show a growing membership from the past two years–thanks, largely, to our Meet-up program. We should start by asking our realtor volunteers to look for this size building and get a price for it. We inspect it and make sure it has about what I envision and we go for it!
The New York Times recently reported that George Soros, for example, “. . . was awarded the confiscated IndyMac bank (renamed OneWest) with $32 Billion in assets, Soros & friends paid $2 Billion, along with a sweet deal for the FDIC to pay off the bad debt. . .” (nytimes.com/2010/01/28/business/28aig.html?ref= us).
In our grant writing, we will have to describe what can be done with our grant. With our new board, I’ve been encouraged by members who are envisioning a building in which we can finally grow even more.
Our grant proposal will start out with an overall description of why Minnesota Atheists exists, what we accomplished in our 18 years of existence, what we envision for the future, and how a building will help us get there. We then describe in greater detail why we need the kind of building suggested above. We would give a description of the crowds we could attract if we had an auditorium seating 500 people and how many speakers we expect to use that auditorium on an annual basis. Since there is no educational organization called “The First Amendment Learning Center,” that’s what I propose for our building.
I’ve been following all of the meetings that Jack Caravela has been setting up. I pay attention to the limits of people who may attend because of the small venue available for particular events. We are an educational institution and there should be no limits. There is no reason why we can’t have our own kitchen to make attractive meals prepared by our own paid professional chef, and charge about the same as the restaurants we go to. I, for one, am discouraged by the high prices of restaurants and the idea that I’m supporting religious proprietors. We must be financially self-sustaining.
Warren Buffet would love to hear from us. The fact that we have a recent history of raising tens of thousands of dollars before the convening of the last board, will tell Mr. Buffet that we are a solid, enthusiastic and growing organization, and now we would like for him to help us.
In July 2006, Elaine Friedman wrote “Buffett has stated that he agrees with Carnegie’s belief that ‘huge fortunes that flow in large part from society should in large part be returned to society’” (http://www.americanhumanist.org/HNN).
(Matthew Richardson is a past Director of Minnesota Atheists. –ed.)