For about six months in 1994, I worked with then-Executive Director Rick Tulsky as the director of development for the Center for Investigative Reporting, here in San Francisco. CIR had just been awarded a pretty good sized “capacity building” grant from the MacArthur Foundation, and Tulsky hired me to help build the organization. Well, things didn’t quite work out that way, Tulsky (who’s a terrific investigative reporter, and came to CIR from the Philadelphia Inquirer) moved on, and so did I.
Before I did that, though, I saw how CIR’s fundraising worked: besides a relatively small individual donor base (and a couple of important major donors) at that time most of the foundation fundraising they did was organized around film or video projects they were working on, usually in conjunction with WGBH’s Frontline. [Over the years, CIR and Mother Jones have collaborated on a number of stories.]
They did some great work, but that always seemed like a tough way to fund an organization, project by project.