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WHAT IS FRIENDS OF WRITERS?
Friends of Writers, Inc. (“FOW”) is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated and headquartered in the State of Vermont. It was founded in 1991 for the immediate purpose of raising scholarship funds for writers.
WHAT DOES FOW DO?
FOW’s mission is to cultivate a diversity of new and vital voices.
It has done so most recently by supporting current graduate students in the highly regarded MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College (WWC) and alumni. Though FOW has chosen the MFA Program for Writers as its primary beneficiary, it may choose to expand its support to other recipients in the future. FOW also provides scholarships to the annual Alumni Conference organized by alumni of the MFA at WWC, and underwrites/guarantees the conference.
WHY DOES FOW CHOOSE TO FOCUS ITS SUPPORT ON THE MFA PROGRAM FOR WRITERS AT WARREN WILSON COLLEGE?
FOW honors the Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers’ long history of quality and rigor
The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College was the first low-residency program in the country, a successful model that has since been replicated at other institutions in the US and overseas. It is consistently ranked as the finest low-residency program in the country. Most on the board have deep ties to the MFA WWC community.
FOW supports the MFA WWC Program Alumni.
While graduates of the MFA Program are Warren Wilson College alumni are welcome to attend homecoming and to send information to the college’s publication Owl & Spade, most MFA graduates are primarily interested in maintaining contact with other former MFA students.
FOW launched and underwrote the annual Alumni Conference, now wholly-run by alumni, and continues to fund scholarships for alumni to attend. FOW also funds and manages the Levis Competition, which awards a Program alumnus or alumna up to $10,000 toward the completion of a book. The FOW forum featured on our FOW website is the conduit for publication news from alumni and faculty.
HOW DOES FOW BRING IN MONEY?
We solicit donations from individuals within and beyond the WWC MFA community. We do this through periodic mailings, letter and email, to our growing list of past, present, and potential donors. We host benefit readings, get-togethers and community-building events. Faculty generously donate royalties from five written and edited anthologies. A recently-established network of class agents is working to foster ongoing connections within the MFA Program’s community and support incoming and current students in the Program.
Every year, at the annual Alumni Conference, alumni volunteers run an auction designed to raise money for Program students and alumni.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FOW AND THE ALUMNI CONFERENCE?
The Alumni Conference is run by a committee of alumni, many of whom have been involved with prior conferences. The committee makes all decisions related to the conference. An FOW board member serves as liaison to the conference committee and works with them on location scouting, planning, and policies.
FOW guarantees the minimum fee required by the conference site. FOW pays any postage costs as well as conference fees for the volunteer conference director. Accounting for the conference is handled by the FOW’s Treasurer and accountant.
WHY ARE THERE ALUMNI CONFERENCE AUCTIONS?
The fundraising auction was initiated by alumni conference attendees as a way to recoup the costs of the conference not covered by the registration fee, and to raise additional funds for scholarships. Surplus funds, when available, are directed to the Memorial Fund, which was established by individual gifts designated in the name of deceased alumni, and are geared toward supporting alumni.
WHO SETS THE COST OF THE ALUMNI CONFERENCE?
The cost of the Alumni Conference is set by the host institution. Each year, volunteer planners work hard to find the most reasonable location possible for the conference, understanding that cost is a major consideration for nearly everyone. Conference costs fluctuate due both to location and attendance. The Conference committee comes up with a budget and sets fees.
WHO DECIDES WHAT DONATIONS ARE PUT TO WHAT USE?
Donors are always welcome—and invited—to specify which FOW projects they would like their money to support. Unspecified or discretionary donations are applied to scholarship funds, as needed. It’s most helpful for donations not to be earmarked for a specific fund so that they can be put to the best immediate use. However, if a donor prefers to support a particular goal, FOW will honor their request.
WHAT COSTS DOES FOW HAVE?
FOW pays for essential legal, accounting, and administrative fees and salaries. Board members donate their time and expertise. On occasion, major FOW projects—such as Galas and the creation of the FOW website—require FOW to use paid external resources. All such expenditures are vetted and approved by the full FOW Board.
CAN I GET AN ANNUAL REPORT OF FOW’S INCOME AND EXPENDITURES?
Every year FOW files Form 990-EZ with the U. S. Internal Revenue Service. This is a public document and can, by means of an Internet search, be accessed from a variety of sources.
HOW CAN I JOIN FOW?
The composition of FOW’s Board, past and present, as well as its ByLaws and other matters relating to governance, can be found here.
Each Board Member agrees to serve for three years, with possibility of renewal.
Possible candidates are suggested by current and former Board Members, and the Board encourages expressions of interest from alumni and others. The Board’s Nominating Committee collects and vets candidates, assesses the skills and experience most needed given FOW’s short and long-term plans and project requirements, engages potential candidates in preliminary conversations, and then makes recommendations to the full Board.
WHO DO I TALK TO IF I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?
You can direct any questions or concerns to Nuha Fariha, Administrative Manager, via [email protected].