President's Message

By NFBC President Nancy Burns

During a recent NFBC chapter meeting, I asked the members to share what they believed was the purpose of the NFB. The responses came quickly and with enthusiasm. The wide variety of responses ranged from a short “the empowerment of blind people” to five-minute dissertations on the purpose of the Federation. Members talked about the networking and mentoring between members. Others spoke about changing society’s perception of blindness. Still others discussed the need to have an organization speaking with one voice. Also mentioned was the fact that this organization is based on love and friendship.

The purpose of this exercise was to gain insight from various members about their beliefs and understanding of NFB goals. We as members regularly attend monthly chapter meetings but I was wondering how often we stop and think about our true purpose. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased by the comments and insights of the members.

When Dr. tenBroek organized the NFB in 1940 his primary goal was to establish an organization which would result in one unified voice speaking for blind citizens. It is my guess that he would be pleased to observe the huge arena in which the NFB now speaks for the blind population. The recent Washington, D.C. rally is a good example. Thirty-seven Californians, along with hundreds of other Federationists, traveled to Washington, D.C. to protest the proposed dismantling of Rehab services as they exist today.

This project — along with our legislative agenda, scholarship programs, outreach to parents of blind children, and our numerous other services — all come with a price tag. This affiliate is very fortunate in that we have been the recipient of some substantial bequests. Because of these bequests, we have perhaps become somewhat complacent about fundraising, but this money will not support the organization forever. The office is currently processing a mailing to send to estate-planning attorneys throughout California. In addition, a direct mailing campaign is being sent to previous donors.

Fundraising is always a primary challenge for any nonprofit. It takes work and dedication from all of us to keep this organization funded. Defining, planning and executing fundraisers in an era of financial belt-tightening is even more challenging. Through collective efforts, we resolve and guarantee a strong Federation affiliate for future generations.