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LINGUIST List 16.1250

Tue Apr 19 2005

All: Re: Disc, 16.894: Abolishing Fund Drive

Editor for this issue: Michael Appleby <michaellinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Helen Aristar-Dry, Re: Abolishing Fund Drive

Message 1: Re: Abolishing Fund Drive
Date: 18-Apr-2005
From: Helen Aristar-Dry <hdrylinguistlist.org>
Subject: Re: Abolishing Fund Drive

Dear Subscribers,

On behalf of the LINGUIST crew, I would like to thank everyone who
has participated in the discussion on abolishing fund drive. We
received a number of excellent ideas, which we have been discussing
here at LINGUIST. Since the Fund Drive ended so unexpectedly fast
(Hallelujah!), it has suddenly become less urgent to adopt other
alternatives; but many of the ideas are still under consideration for the

I am not quite sure why FD was so successful so quickly this year, but
I suspect that the discussion about abolishing fund drive contributed
significantly, in that it raised general awareness of our funding
situation. Also, whenever subscribers generously take the time to
write and post messages about fund drive, contributions increase -
perhaps because it makes the list and fund drive seem more like a
community enterprise. These are just speculations, since I don't have
any professional fund-raising knowledge, but in any case, I am very
grateful to all the people who took the time to seriously consider how
LINGUIST might be funded. As I said, many of the ideas were
excellent, and so I wanted to respond to some of them, even though
the crisis has passed for this year.

Jeffrey Kaplan suggested merging LINGUIST List with an organization
such as LSA. In contrast, Richard Sproat wrote that it is important for
LINGUIST List to remain independent, to avoid being compromised by
the needs of other institutions. We do want to retain our editorial
independence - in part because we've been independent for 16
years, and the current moderators don't really want to shift gears
now, and in part because we've always tried to maintain the list as an
international organization, although distributed from the U.S. (Our
staff, for example, has always been about 50% non-American; and
about 40% of our 21,000 subscribers are not from the USA.) But in
the future - perhaps when Anthony and I finally succumb to carpal
tunnel syndrome - merging LINGUIST List with another organization
might be something to pursue. If it were possible to fund LINGUIST
via contributions from a group of linguistic societies, as was also
suggested, that might be a way of maintaining an international
character. But thus far, no linguistic society or group of societies has
expressed any interest in formally supporting LINGUIST (though
some national linguistic societies, e.g., LSA and LAGB, give
generously to fund drive virtually every year).

Jack Hall asked whether publishers and vendors might be asked to
pay more for the services provided to them. Although we might need
to raise our fees in the future, we feel that the current amounts
charged are fair, especially considering the generous fund drive
support that we have received from many of our publishers.

Aubrey Nunes recommended enforcing payment for job postings.
Madalena Cruz-Ferreira endorsed this as well, along with requiring
payment for posting conferences and calls, and possibly even for
posting book reviews. These are ideas that we are seriously
considering; in fact, a member of our Advisory Panel is currently
preparing suggestions for a fee structure for jobs postings. It will have
to include provision for posting announcements for free when the
poster is genuinely unable to pay, since we do not want to ever be in
the position of 'concealing' jobs from young linguists and other job
seekers. However, it is normal business practice on the web and
elsewhere to charge for posting job announcements. Currently LL
posts about 500 job announcements per year, but only about 29% of
employers make the requested voluntary donation; if this percentage
could be increased, it would take some of the burden of funding
LINGUIST off of our subscribers.

A number of subscribers, including Elena Bashir and Marie-Josee
Goulet, felt that charging a small fee for subscriptions to LINGUIST
List would be entirely acceptable. Others took the opposite view.
Kenza Cherkaoui Messin argued for the need to keep LINGUIST List
free, especially because of its importance to linguists in areas where
little funding is available for such resources. Karen Ward also
pointed out the value of having a large subscriber base and asked if it
might be possible to cut back on some services. Nick Caffrey wrote
that we should go ahead with fund drive and not apologize for it, "you
are quite entitled to ask for funds."

We have received other interesting ideas offline. One was that we
invest some of the money received through Fund Drive and then
finance LINGUIST List with the earnings. However, when we
discussed this idea with the Development Office of our university, we
were told that we would receive only 4% interest, not enough to keep
us going.

Another suggestion was that we should encourage subscribers to
arrange bequests for LINGUIST List. We were very touched last year
when Prof. Kathleen Ferrera left LINGUIST a donation in her will.
We have been told by professional fund-raisers that bequests are
one of the largest sources of income for non-profit organizations, but
we have been unsure of how to approach this with our subscribers.

Many thanks to all who participated in this discussion. Many of your
suggestions are going to bear fruit down the line. And we sincerely
appreciate the time you took to help us think through this matter.

With sincere good wishes to you all,

-Helen & Anthony

Helen Aristar Dry
LINGUIST Moderator

Anthony Aristar
LINGUIST Moderator

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics

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