Letter from the President
By Charles F. Bryan, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer
The Virginia Historical Society recently heard wonderful news from the prestigious Kresge Foundation. In response to a proposal submitted last year, Kresge has awarded the VHS $1 million. This is not an outright grant, however, because it is contingent on our ability to collect pledges by the end of 2006 that at least equal the stated objective of our $55 million campaign. This is splendid news, indeed. It means, though, that the race is now on in earnest to reach the goal. We now must attract pledges totaling an additional $6.5 million by December 31 in order to secure the Kresge grant. Rest assured we will be calling on all our friends to make certain that we succeed.
I’m often asked, “Don’t you get tired of fund-raising?” I think those who ask the question would not do so if they reflected on our institutional past. In our long history, one theme that runs throughout is the constant search for funding to sustain the collections and programs of the VHS. For example, in the 1840s the society came close to ceasing its operations for good because of the lack of funds to rent suitable space to store its limited collections. Fortunately, the trustees of the day stepped forward and found the support to avert disaster. So when people ask if I wish we could be finished with fund-raising, once and for all, I have to remind them that nonprofit institutions have always had to look for those generous donors whose gifts make possible what we do.
And what we do is offer programs you can find nowhere else. On of these is the blockbuster series of lectures in October that we're calling "Virginians in the White House." This event will bring the top historical talent in the nation—including David McCullough, Scott Berg, and Michael Beschloss—to the VHS. This kind of high-octane programming is only possible because of the generosity of such supporters as Wachovia, which serves as sole corporate sponsor for the event.
Posted June 2006
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