Full speed ahead! NSNC Sails Into the New Year

By Lisa Smith Molinari
NSNC President

One year ago, NSNC was in a very different place than it is today. Like most journalism organizations experiencing Digital Age shifts, NSNC was seeing a decline in dues-paying members, a reduction in income, and increasing difficulty raising funds.

Some got desperate, and either agreed to be swallowed up by larger, healthier organizations or closed up shop forever. But unlike other journalism groups, NSNC has always been defined by fierce individuality, extraordinary tenacity, and unique camaraderie. NSNC would no sooner be eaten alive by a larger organization than it would seat its board with a band of circus monkeys.

So, when NSNC’s leadership feared that our beloved society might soon enter the current of journalism groups circling the proverbial drain, it sprang into action, making several brave moves to right the ship and put NSNC on a new course.

ADMINISTRATION

NSNC’s operating system was in dire need of an update twelve months ago. Spreadsheets had become bogged down with obsolete data. Accounting procedures were too complicated to discern simple monthly income and expense figures. The day-to-day operation of NSNC had become stale. The Board of Directors faced the challenge head-on by reorganizing NSNC’s staff positions, creating expanded Executive Director and Communications Director roles that would better meet NSNC’s current needs.

In March 2017, longtime member and NSNC volunteer Suzette Martinez Standring was appointed to the Executive Director position. Suzette completely streamlined NSNC’s accounting procedures, established updated protocols, cut unnecessary expenses, and generally cleaned house.

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp took on the expanded position of Communications Director in February 2017. In just a few months, Bonnie has implemented countless innovative improvements to NSNC’s website, public relations, marketing, social media, and membership management.

MEMBERSHIP

After years of declining membership numbers, Communications Director Bonnie Jean Feldkamp and Membership Chair Dorothy Rosby are excited to announce that NSNC has 138 more dues-paying members than it did one year ago. This dramatic increase is due to many hours of hard work overhauling our membership records, switching to a rolling membership system, marketing NSNC through social media channels, and PR events such as the wildly successful #IAmAColumnist selfie campaign for April 18th, National Columnists Day.

BRANDING

Board members and administration decided that NSNC needed to update its marketing materials and website to better reflect our unique brand. This meant reorganizing our website menu and honing in on a color and logo to be used on every newsletter, webpage, registration form, social media channel and email. Alex – our Picasso-esque graphic – was the obvious logo choice, and green – the color of money and “Go!” – was selected as the color.

BUDGET

Last year, one of the top concerns on the NSNC Board agenda was finding income sources to stop the slow decrease in NSNC’s total assets. However, since the reorganization and changes mentioned above, our total assets have been consistently higher in month-by-month comparisons of 2016 and 2017. In fact, end of 2017 figures show NSNC approximately 68% ahead of year end 2016.

Additionally, in 2017 NSNC tried online crowdfunding to inject grant funds into the National Society of Newspaper Columnists Education Foundation. NSNC members and friends donated $1,425 to NSNCEF, which was granted to NSNC for educational programming at our Manchester conference. Due to that success, we launched another Crowdrise campaign in 2017, and raised nearly $2,000 on Giving Day alone. This new grant source will enable NSNC to improve conference training sessions in Cincinnati in 2018.

CONFERENCE

NSNC’s conference registrations had been declining in the last few years; however, more people registered for NSNC’s 2017 annual conference in Manchester, New Hampshire, than had registered for the 2016 conference in Los Angeles or the 2015 conference in Indianapolis. Clearly, the improvements in marketing, membership, and administration had paid off, and many Manchester attendees reported that it was one of the best conferences ever.

Also, NSNC recently broke records with the most early registrations – 27 to be exact – for the 2018 Conference, June 7-10, in Cincinnati, Ohio. At that rate, NSNC is poised to have one of its most popular events ever. Don’t miss out – register now.

CONTEST

Thanks to heroic efforts by former Contest Chair Cathy Turney, NSNC’s 2017 contest had more entrants than previous years. But the registration form produced countless errors and constant headaches for Cathy and the judges. Member and 2016 contest winner Brian Thompson stepped up to help. As the 2018 Contest Chair, Brian is using his experience overhauling Flagler University’s literary contest to bring NSNC’s contest into the 21st century. All 2018 contest registrations will be automated through Submittables, a cloud-based submissions manager. To enter NSNC’s 2018 Contest, click here.

CONCLUSION

In 2016, NSNC found itself stuck in the doldrums, floundering, dragging her anchor. But thanks to a strong crew of brave volunteers, NSNC is now shipshape and on a new course. In 2018, NSNC will forge ahead with an innovative, intelligent approach to the modern demands of today’s journalism industry. Congratulations NSNC!

 

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