The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Request for Annual Membership Dues for Delta Grassroots Caucus--Please Reply

Posted on August 06, 2008 at 06:03 PM

For all individuals and organizations who support the Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus’ work in promoting a brighter economic future for the eight-state Greater Delta Region, we would like to request that you send in your annual membership dues in the amounts of $25, $50, or $100. Even if you decide to send in your dues at the lower levels of $50 or $25, please understand that we have such a large pool of supporters to draw from across the eight states from southern Illinois to New Orleans, Louisiana and east to Selma, Alabama, as well as in Washington, DC, that the large number of small contributions really adds up.

The main reason to pay the dues, of course, is to support our work for the region’s community and economic development. In addition, members who have paid the dues will receive all the messages that we send out about important regional issues. A great deal of research and consultations go into these messages and they are a significant informational resource. A few of the most important messages on subjects such as information about our annual conferences in Washington, DC in May, 2009 and in Arkansas in early 2009 will still go out to our wider list of contacts, but to get the full range of messages we are requesting these dues for the annual cycle from the summer of 2008 until the summer of 2009. These dues are a crucial part of our budget.

SPECIFIC ROLE OF THE DELTA CAUCUS: The Delta Caucus is the regional grassroots, nonprofit, 501(c)(4) lobbying/advocacy/communications organization with partners in all eight states of the region, Washington, DC and elsewhere across the country among people interested in the Delta’s community and economic development. There are many other great organizations working on the many other phases of the region’s development, or in particular local areas, or specific issues, or working through different strategies, and we applaud their work and work with them every day. Having a regional coalition in all eight states and DC engaged in a combination of lobbying, advocacy and communications is our specific role. We lobby for people like you or people you know–the working families, lower-income to middle-income people of the Delta region, and we never forget the impoverished people as well. This is still relatively speaking the most impoverished region of America.

WE’RE NOT WEALTHY, ELITIST LOBBYISTS, AND WE NEVER WILL BE: We are not funded by large numbers of large contributions from wealthy special interests and therefore we are not like the expensive, “K-Street” lobbyists that have gotten such a bad reputation in Washington, DC. We never will be like the super-wealthy K Street bunch, and we’re proud of it. We are not in the pockets of the wealthy special interests, because our funding primarily comes from those of you in this network of supporters of our region’s broad-based community and economic development.

If you would like to support our work as a nonprofit, 501(c)(4) organization, please make out the checks for annual membership dues to “Delta Grassroots Caucus,” with a note, “For 2008-09 dues,” and mail it to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

(Attention: Lee Powell)

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

YEAR-ROUND PROGRAM FOR THE DELTA: Our year-round program of advocacy, communications, and lobbying includes activities every day. The Delta Grassroots Caucus’ activities are now so numerous that it would take far too much space to list them all here, but we might hit a few highlights–the Senate Appropriations Committee recently voted an increase up to $20 million for the Delta Regional Authority, an agency that the Delta Grassroots Caucus vigorously supports in its regional economic development work. The Delta Grassroots Caucus joined other organizations in recent months in supporting the successful passage of the farm bill and its provisions for renewable energy, rural housing and other rural development initiatives, the recent bill supporting Medicare, legislation regarding the housing market troubles, and other major bills that have a vital impact on our region.

WIDE RANGE OF ACTIVITIES: We are also continuing to support a wide range of other legislation on alternative energy, health care–including hunger and nutrition issues, job creation and reviving the economy, education, housing, disaster relief and reforms of FEMA, promotion of tourism, and other major issues. We are certainly getting increasing attention from Congress: we had a record 15 Members of Congress from both parties who spoke at our annual conference in Washington, DC, and we had meetings in their offices with a total of 30 Members of Congress. Other speakers featured two former Members of the Cabinet in the Hon. Rodney Slater and the Hon. Hershel Gober, six of President Bush’s administration appointees, and grassroots leaders representing every one of the eight Delta states. Former President Bill Clinton and Gov. Mike Beebe (D-AR) were among the featured speakers at the Arkansas conference in January, 2008.

We also work on smaller-scale but nonetheless worthwhile efforts such as the efforts to save the Delta Queen, the historic steamboat that generates tourist dollars in many communities from New Orleans and all the way up the Mighty Mississippi.

GROWTH OF THE DELTA CAUCUS: Our overall activities in support of economic development in the Delta region are stronger than they have ever been. Giving these annual membership dues will help increase the effectiveness of our organization, which has grown tremendously the past five years. The budget will need to grow along with the overall organizational growth.

ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP DUES–We would respectfully ask EVERYBODY who supports our cause to contribute annual membership dues. The $100, $50 and $25 contributions add up because we have such a large pool of people to draw from. But it is now very uneven as to who contributes and who doesn’t. We have people like Desha County Judge Mark McElroy, for example, who has already contributed his $100 membership from his county government funds, and has been generous enough to indicate that he will contribute another $100 from his own pocket. We know everybody won’t be that generous, but everybody can at least contribute something–even if only $50 or $25.

To give you an idea of the financial power it would generate if everybody would send in their annual membership dues, we now have a basic email address list of over 1,500 people. Maybe 100 or so get knocked out by spam blockers or the addresses are incorrect. But lets’ say that all of the approximately 1,400 people who are on the email list and receive the messages–and they are on there because they are in some way involved in the Delta’s economy, either in the region or in Washington, DC–contributed an average of $50 each. That would generate $70,000–enough to give us a very strong budget by itself, even not counting other parts of our contributions apart from membership dues.

Alternatively and more conservatively, let’s say that we get even half of that from membership dues, for a total of $35,000. In combination with other sources of funding, that would give us a very strong budget as well.

In the age of the internet you CAN raise large amounts of money through large numbers of modest contributions. For a grassroots coalition over a large region, getting large number of modest contributions and having a diversified source of contributions are the best fund-raising policies to follow, as we have discussed many times before. As a regional grassroots coalition, we cannot be beholden to a few “big pockets” wealthy donors for our budget.

The contributions can come in at various levels, depending on the size and financial situation of each contributor.

Suggested contribution levels for membership dues:

$25–individuals or organizations with very limited budgets

$50–individuals or organizations with somewhat larger budgets, such as medium-sized nonprofits, small businesses, medium-sized chambers of commerce, etc.

$100–corporations, businesses, small banks, larger chambers of commerce or nonprofits, universities or colleges, municipal governments, county governments

$150–larger entities, corporations, businesses, banks, or individuals who wish to contribute at a higher level

Again, these annual membership dues are a crucial part of our budget. If everybody pays them, our budget will be in excellent shape, and by the same token, if everybody says, “Oh, what difference could my modest contribution possibly make?”, then our budget will suffer. Remember the wisdom of British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke’s statement: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”

We also need to make clear that conference registration fees are a separate category, because the two conferences in Arkansas and Washington, DC are expensive. Even though we cut costs to the bone in every way we can think of, it just takes a certain amount of money to put on conferences involving a total of over 200 people over three days. The registration fees cover most but certainly not all of the costs for labor, equipment, food and beverages, rental space, documents, and other costs of these conferences. Sponsorship contributions make up the difference. The annual membership dues pay for our year-round, daily program of advocacy, communications and lobbying for the Delta.

The annual membership dues cover the day to day costs of our operations. Over the course of a year, this is the most important component of our overall work. We have to stay in touch with Congressional offices, national executive branch officials, governors’ offices, state legislators, and our grassroots partners’ network all the time in backing legislation that promotes economic development in the Greater Delta Region. The major conferences reinforce that daily and weekly work, but those conferences only happen two weeks out of the year.

We need to take a page out of our Appalachian regional colleagues book, because they understand that perseverance is the key in regional development, and you have to keep at it, day after day, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. Your contribution of annual membership dues is a powerful weapon for the Delta Grassroots Caucus’ work in promoting the economic development of the Greater Delta Region. Thank you very much. Lee Riley Powell, executive director, Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus (202) 360-6347