NaBloPoMo (11/2014) – Day 13: Golden Crown Literary Society

I have been a member of the Golden Crown Literary Society since July 2008. I attended my first conference in June 2009 and became a member of the Board of Directors in January 2013. I’m very proud of this organization and what it’s accomplished over the years.

What is the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS)?

The Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) is a non-profit, volunteer organization whose mission is for the education, promotion, and recognition of lesbian fiction and creative non-fiction. Our goals are to:
  1. Provide learning opportunities, encouragement and assistance to new and established authors in developing their craft;
  2. Support and strengthen quality lesbian writing by providing educational programs and creating opportunities for readers and writers to interact; and
  3. To recognize and promote lesbian literary work. 

 What does the GCLS do?

The GCLS strives to meet its goals by providing as many opportunities as possible for members to learn and network. Our Writing Academy is in its first year and is finding some great success. In 2015, we’ll be starting up the Mentoring Program.  We’re also in the beginning stages of the Authors’ Salon – which will provide video interviews with authors.

Each year, the GCLS attends various events around the United States. These events bring authors and readers together to share in their enjoyment of lesbian literature.

  • Women’s Week in Provincetown, MA – The GCLS sponsors an event that provides authors an opportunity to read from their own works and participate in panels/chats. Readers are able to meet some of their favorite authors, get introduced to new authors, and purchase books. This event is free to all participants.
  • Left Coast Lesbian Conference – The GCLS attends the LCLC and has a table that provides information about our organization. The LCLC is a fairly new event that occurs in October and we are proud to be a part of it.
  • Women’s Fest in Rehoboth Beach, DE – The GCLS will be present at Women’s fest in April 2015. Be on the look out for more information.
  • The GCLS Annual Conference – This is our big event each year. Each July, people from all over the world gather together to celebrate our love of lesbian fiction.  The Conference offers Master Classes, Panels, Presentations, Author Readings and Chats. Between July 22 and July 26, 2015, we will be in New Orleans, LA for our conference. One of the high points of the conference is the awarding of the Annual Goldie Awards. We recognize lesbian literature in 13 different categories. Additionally, we honor a Trailblazer each year.

Why am I involved?

Well, it’s pretty simple.  I love lesbian literature. There are some fantastic books out there by some marvelous writers. The GCLS gives me the opportunity to be more fully involved. I don’t just read a book and then move on to the next. Instead, the GCLS has allowed me to connect with other readers, to meet the authors of the books I love so much. I’ve learned more about publishing than I ever thought I would. Most importantly, I’ve made so many wonderful friends. These people didn’t just welcome me into the community, they fully accepted and welcomed my mother – my straight, conservative mother. They did so with open arms.

I’ve seen this organization grow in the last 6 years. I’ve watched this growth as a member and, for the past 2 years, as a member of the Board of Directors. Our membership has doubled in the last 4 or 5 years. The number of nominations we receive for the  Goldie Awards has tripled in the last 2 or 3 years.

Because of this growth, our needs as an organization have evolved. Our operating costs have increased, as have the needs of our members. Well, we’re not a wealthy organization and rely on our members to pay their dues on time and to contribute to the organization. Now, we also realize that our membership is very financially diverse. For some, simply paying the $20 annual membership fee is all they can afford. For others, it’s not a problem to donate $2500.

But contributing isn’t just about the almighty dollar. We are a volunteer organization – even the Board of Directors is comprised of volunteers. We don’t get paid. In fact, we are often the biggest financial contributors. But, we certainly don’t do it alone. We rely on our members to volunteer their time and talent to the organization whenever they are able. Whether it be in technology, graphic arts, grant writing, fundraising, or an assortment of other areas, we need our members to step up and lend us their skills. Sometimes that means working a shift at our conference by being a time keeper, working registration, or collecting tickets. Other times that means creating our advertising, writing grants, or labeling envelopes.

Unfortunately, we don’t get as many volunteers as we need. Oh, it’s pretty easy at the conferences. People are going to be there anyway, so they’ll spend some time helping with set up or time keeping or registration, etc. It’s the other 11 months out of the year when it’s difficult. You see, each member of the Board can have a committee to assist them with their tasks. I don’t think any of us have a committee right now. There are a group of folks who work with our educational programs and a couple who help now and then with marketing – quite diligently and effectively. But, for the most part, we don’t have committees.

Right now, we’re having a fundraising campaign for our Technology Fund. With the growth in membership comes a need for our technology to keep up. We recently moved to a new online awards process that has streamlined everything so wonderfully for everyone – awards administrators, nominators, and judges. Our membership stepped up during our conference in Portland this year and helped us to raise the money to pay for the program through direct donations and raffles. It was awesome.

Now we’re asking for folks to step up with our new fundraiser. Five of our members have agreed to match the donations if we reach a goal of $5,000 by November 30. That would give us $10,000 for our Technology Fund. And it would allow us to move to a new membership/content management system that would handle our current membership and grow with the organization. It would give our members much more information. Members could have a customizable profile page – which would be particularly great for authors. Our Finance Director would be able to set up the system so that payments could be done automatically rather than having to send out individual invoices each month. And we would all be able to pull reports quickly and easily. Plus, it has built-in conference and event management…and an estore!  So, yeah, it would be a great thing for our organization. But it’s pricey.

So, yes, we’re doing a fundraiser. We’re asking people to help us get to $5,000 by November 30. With over 500 members, that means that we would meet our goal with just a $10 commitment from each member. Yes, we know that even $10 is difficult for some folks.  But can you imagine if we got just 250 people to donate $20? We’d still meet our goal.

Here’s the thing. I’m not too shy or too proud to ask you straight out (for lack of a better phrase) to donate to our fundraiser. You don’t have to be a member. You don’t have to be a lesbian. You just need to want to help an organization that is working hard to support and promote lesbian literature. That’s it. Nothing else.

So, yeah, if you can help out, check out our GoFundMe campaign. Every little bit counts…and helps tremendously.

http://www.gofundme.com/golden-crown

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