SEJ's board, members and staff have raised nearly $40,000 since June toward our $103,000 Endowment Challenge. That's good progress, but there's an even bigger mountain to climb in order to meet the challenge by May 31.
The challenge was issued last summer by the Challenge Fund for Journalism (CFJ), a collaboration of the Ford Foundation, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. If SEJ meets the challenge through new or increased individual donations to its 21st Century Fund endowment  by the May 31 deadline, CFJ will give us a 50-percent match, or $51,500.
Raising $40,000 took ten months. Peter Thomson, SEJ's endowment committee chair, notes: "We're roughly three quarters of the way through the challenge year and have raised only roughly one third of what we need to meet our goal. That means there's a lot more heavy lifting ahead in the next few weeks, on all of our parts."
SEJ's board has donated roughly half of the money already in. The board is committed to raising at least $1,500 each for a total of $24,000. As of March 12, five have matched or exceeded that amount and almost all have exceeded donations from previous years. Total board donations as of March 17 are $20,978.50.
SEJ staff has given more than $2,700 toward the challenge.
Of SEJ's 1271 members, 153 – 12 percent – have donated more than $8,000 toward the challenge fund. "This seems to be one area where we're falling short" said SEJ's associate director, Chris Rigel, who pointed out that if each of the 1118 members who have not yet donated gave $60, the $103,000 challenge would be met. Donors can set up a $5-per-month plan that is very painless – less than 17 cents a day.
Board members are contacting individuals outside the membership, asking for donations from former conference speakers, founding and former board members and others who would want to see SEJ's future secured. Staff utilizes www.sej.org  to solicit gifts from individuals visiting the site. Members will notice email messages with increasing frequency and urgency as the May 31 deadline approaches.
SEJ accepts donations for the 21st Century Endowment Fund from individuals only. No amount is too small, but if you are able to consider a donation of $5,000 or more, please contact committee co-chairs Thomson at firstname.lastname@example.org /(617) 983-2327 or Carolyn Whetzel at email@example.com  or (909) 793-1430.
**From SEJ's quarterly newsletter SEJournal Spring, 2007 issue.