Beware of dropping sponsors over politics
I am the director of a program that depends on donations. We rehab donated vehicles and provide them to low-income West Virginians to help them get off public support and get to work. Occasionally, we receive donations from businesses. We would love it if more companies and businesses donated the vehicles they no longer need for their fleet.
It has never crossed my mind to question a company's business practices when I decide whether to take the donation offered.
On March 20, the Gazette published a Russell Mokhiber commentary that encouraged performing artists and fans of Mountain Stage to sign a petition urging Larry Groce and Mountain Stage to drop Chesapeake Energy as a sponsor because Chesapeake participates in hydraulic fracturing. The letter disturbed me when I followed it to its logical conclusion.
If Chesapeake Energy or any other company offers to donate their fleet vehicles, we would take them with appreciation and without hesitation. Would that make me a supporter of hydraulic fracking? It would not. Would that help us provide more vehicles to people who need them to get to work? Yes, it would.
Many sponsors have policies that are going to be objectionable to somebody. If they try to use their sponsorship to influence public policy, that opens their donations to question. But it is a dangerous precedent to suggest that donations should be refused because their policies are controversial.
If Chesapeake Energy said, for instance that they would donate vehicles on the condition that the state of West Virginia not ban hydraulic fracking, we could not accept them. Likewise, if Chesapeake Energy threatened to withdraw its sponsorship of Mountain Stage if outspoken environmentalists like Kathy Mattea or Appalachian Voices are guests on the show. I would say drop their sponsorship in a heartbeat.
They are doing neither. Charity and arts programs need private sponsorships. The public funding is just not there or insufficient at best. We could not operate without donors.
Mountain Stage brings great live music to Charleston and broadcasts it free to the public. It could not do so without sponsorships that provide needed revenues. That is a fact of life. We need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Good News Mountaineer Garage