Watchdogging patrons

Between the public and the CN&R, there’s $10,000 for investigative reporting

Several weeks ago, a lovely couple around my age walked into CN&R’s office with a question about our new nonprofit investigative journalism effort, the Chico News & Review Foundation. They wanted to know to whom they should address a big, fat check—$500!—to support our efforts to buoy this important reporting.

I felt like hugging them, which says a lot coming from me. But I composed myself and instead told them that they’d made my day—my week, actually.

I don’t know this couple well, but I know they have two kids, and I’m pretty certain 500 bucks is a lot of money to them, as it is for me and my family. Their donation tells me they understand the power of print media and that they have faith in this newspaper in particular. It also was clear that they care deeply about the community.

These folks ended up giving me a blank check, which I promptly walked over to the North Valley Community Foundation, the umbrella organization under which our nonprofit arm was established back in March. NVCF holds the CN&R Foundation’s funds. It also will be the organization to dispense the money to the reporters who are eventually hired to carry out the mission of the nonprofit: to inform, engage and empower citizens and the communities of Chico, Butte County and the greater region by producing enterprise and investigative editorial content on complex issues.

A few people have emailed me with questions about the CN&R Foundation since we announced its existence. One person, for example, was surprised to find out that donations to the fund are tax-deductible. Someone else didn’t realize that CN&R—the for-profit newspaper—won’t see a dime of this money. And in fact, this newspaper has given to the cause as well, in the form of a matching gift. That is, for every dollar the foundation receives from the public, CN&R will match it for up to $5,000.

We’re getting really close to reaching that goal. Another $500 in donations will take us to the 10-grand mark, which is a good start to funding local investigative reporting.

Behind the scenes, making this possible, are many generous patrons. According to a quarterly statement, the foundation has taken in single donations ranging from $25 to $1,000. You read that correctly: Someone contributed a cool grand. I’m still trying to figure out a way to thank everyone at the end of this fundraising journey. Naming them in the paper at some point is one way I’d like to do that.

I’m a greenhorn when it comes to fundraising, so forgive me for figuring this out along the way. To answer the question the couple posed when they came into our office, it’s easiest for checks to be made out to North Valley Community Foundation—with Chico News & Review Foundation denoted in the memo line (mail to North Valley Community Foundation, 240 Main St., Ste. 260, Chico, CA 95928 or drop at CN&R’s office; 353 E. Second St). Also, donations may be made online at