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.

Annual Membership in the Delta Grassroots Caucus for 2009-2010 Cycle of Activities

Posted on October 26, 2009 at 02:40 PM

We would like to ask all organizations, banks, individuals, municipal or county governments, businesses leaders, corporations, nonprofit foundations, universities and colleges, faith-based groups, public educators, chambers of commerce, and others interested in promoting community and economic development to contribute annual membership dues for the Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus 2009-2010 cycle of activities. We greatly appreciate the lead sponsor, major cosponsors and other sponsors, but we do not want to be dependent on a small number of large contributions, so the annual membership dues are a key part of the budget.

Annual membership dues are requested in the range of $100, $50 or $25. We would request $150 from a large foundation or corporation. Please be advised that ANY contribution, even at $50 or the lowest levels, will be greatly appreciated and the large numbers of small contributions do add up to a substantial amount. This is essential in our nonprofit work of urging the state, regional, and national powers that be to do more for the progress of the vast region from southern Illinois and southeast Missouri to New Orleans, Louisiana and east to Selma, Alabama.

MEMBERSHIP DUES ARE A CRUCIAL PART OF OUR BUDGET: As a grassroots coalition covering the eight-state, 252-county region, plus a network of partners in the Washington, DC area, we raise a key part of our budget through large numbers of modest contributions, of which annual membership dues are essential. We do not want to be dependent on a few large institutions for our entire budget, because we want to be independent in promoting economic development for the region without any strings attached.

Being dependent on a few wealthy donors also leaves an organization vulnerable to financial problems if those donors encounter financial problems themselves. So our policy is to have a diversified funding base and rely on large numbers of modest contributions.

REGISTRATION FEES AND ANNUAL DUES: We have a year-round program of advocating for the economic progress of the Greater Delta region. The two major conferences in Washington, DC and Arkansas, along with news conferences and smaller meetings across the region, are the high-profile events, but the constant program of email messages, website postings at, phone contacts, face to face meetings, and other work for the Delta continue every day. It is essential to keep working on our economic issues week after week, month after month, year after year.

If you would like to support our work as a nonprofit, public interest advocacy organization, please make out the checks for annual membership dues to “Delta Grassroots Caucus,” with a notation “For 2009-2010 dues,” and mail it to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

(Attention: Lee Powell)

311 Schoolwood Lane

Little Rock, Arkansas 72207

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 or $150, depending on your size, situation and budget. 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 contribute, 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 the fall of 2010 and in Arkansas in March, 2010 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, 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 a limited amount of nonprofit lobbying (which amounts to 20% or less of our budget and activities), advocacy and communications is our specific role.

We advocate for people like you or people you know–the working families, lower-income to middle-income people of the Delta region, businesses, nonprofit organizations, mayors, county administrators and other local elected officials, universities, colleges, K-12 educators, experts in health care, renewable energy, transportation, housing, and others working in the real world of building a better economy for the Delta. 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 ADVOCATES, 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.

YEAR-ROUND PROGRAM FOR THE DELTA: Our year-round program of advocacy, communications, and education about Delta regional issues 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 2008 in disseminating information about 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. We will continue to do so every month and every year.

WIDE RANGE OF ACTIVITIES: We are also continuing to disseminate information on 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 12 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 six of President Obama’s appointees at HHS and USDA, 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 early February, 2009.

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 seven years. The budget will need to grow along with the overall organizational growth.

THE POWER OF HAVING EVERYBODY PAY THEIR ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP DUES– We would respectfully ask EVERYBODY who supports our cause to contribute annual membership dues. The $150, $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.

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, larger universities, larger municipal governments, or individuals who wish to contribute at a higher level

$200 and above–this pays your annual membership dues and also qualifies you and/ or your organization to be one of the official sponsors for the Delta Grassroots Caucus’ 2009-2010 annual cycle of activities.

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.

DAY TO DAY COSTS OF DELTA CAUCUS OPERATIONS: 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 educating the powers that be about legislation that has a major impact on economic development in the Greater Delta Region.

Here are some partners who have contributed dues or sponsorships over the past year:

Mississippi County Equal Opportunity Commission, Blytheville, Arkansas

First Bank of the Delta, Helena-West Helena, Arkansas

Mayor Brad Cole, Carbondale, Illinois

Hayes Dent Public Strategies, Jackson, Mississippi

Heifer International South Central Program office, New Augusta, Mississippi

Pemiscot County Port Authority, Caruthersville, Missouri

Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi

Mid-South Community College, West Memphis, Arkansas

Coahoma College, Clarskdale, Mississippi

Pulaski County (Illinois) Development Association, Mounds, southern Illinois

Dr. Betty Kennedy, Delta Obesity Prevention Program, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Grambling State University, Grambling University

Clifton Avant, Entergy Louisiana

Martha Ellen Black, executive director, Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center, East Prairie, Missouri

City of Sikeston, Missouri

Mayor Mike Marshall, Sikeston, Missouri–personal contribution

City of Wheatley, Arkansas

Louisiana Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, New Orleans area Mississippi Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Arkansas Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship national headquarters, Atlanta, Georgia

Desha County Judge Mark McElroy

Flora Simon and Onie Norman, Dumas, Arkansas

David Lambert, Washington, DC

Mid-South Delta Local Initiatives Support Corporation, (LISC), Greenville, Mississippi

Arkansas State University College of Nursing & Health Professions

Mayor Marion Gill, Dumas, Arkansas

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Otto Loewer, University of Arkansas

Arkansas Municipal League

SPONSORSHIPS–Although the annual membership dues and registration fees are a vital part of our budget, the other essential components of the budget are the sponsorships.

LEAD SPONSORS–Our lead sponsor in recent years is Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, based in Blytheville, Arkansas. We appreciate their generous support of the Delta Grassroots Caucus, but even more than that we appreciate their superb leadership and their example as a great role model in pursuing enlightened policies in promoting a brighter future for the people of our region.

MAJOR CO-SPONSORS: In 2008-2009, our sponsors who contributed at the rate of $1,000 to $2,000–which is the “major co-sponsor” level were:

Heifer International

Housing Assistance Council, Washington, DC

Inspire Hope Institute, headquarters in Paragould, Arkansas (chaired by Laymon Jones)

Entergy Corporation

City of Sikeston, Missouri

City of Carbondale, Illinois

Enterprise Corporation of the Delta/HOPE Community Credit Union (Based in Jackson, Mississippi but active across the states of Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi

Mississippi County Economic Opportunity Commission, Blytheville, Arkansas

McGehee Industrial Foundation

SPONSORS: We have had over 25 sponsors at the level of $200 to $350, as well as the following:

Shawnee Community College, Ullin, Illinois

Merchants & Farmers Bank, Dumas, Arkansas

Municipal League of Arkansas

First State Bank & Trust, Caruthersville, Missouri

Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc., Missouri

Great River Economic Development Foundation, Blytheville, Arkansas

Mississippi County Economic Opportunity Commission, Blytheville, Arkansas

Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center, East Prairie, Missouri

G. A. Wildman, Alabama

Delta Citizens Alliance, Greenville, Mississippi

First Bank of the Delta, Phillips County, Arkansas

Writing Our World Press, Jonesboro, Arkansas (led by Janis Kearney, author and former White House aide)

PERSEVERANCE IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IS KEY–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