Asking the 'other 95%' to show support, help meet a $25,000 challenge grant

by John Derr, Publisher, The Chestnut Hill Local
Posted 3/9/23

It may seem to many of you that the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Annual Appeal has raised several million dollars. Not exactly, says the publisher.

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Asking the 'other 95%' to show support, help meet a $25,000 challenge grant


It may seem to many of you that the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Annual Appeal has been underway for 18 months now. 

That’s not quite true. But it has been going since the end of November – four and a half months. 

You might assume that several million dollars has been raised thus far, with contributions from a majority of households who benefit from the work the CHCA does to help maintain a neighborhood that is considered not only quaint, and lush, and charming, but also resistant to overdevelopment, and desirable to homebuyers and shoppers as well as tourists.  

You might have overshot those numbers by a tiny bit. To date, the CHCA has received 229 donations (which adds up to about 5% of Chestnut Hill households) for a total of just under $60,000. This is against the goal of $200,000. 

A third of this year’s Appeal will be shared with The Local. So, this is my personal appeal – on behalf of both the CHCA and The Local – to those 4,000 or so households in Chestnut Hill who have not yet given.

You may not know it, but whoever you are, you benefit from the work of the CHCA. Whether you attend the Pastorius Park concerts or are on vacation all summer, whether you take advantage of the Movies under the Stars or prefer to be indoors with a good book, whether you like the neighborhood’s green spaces and trees or prefer concrete and high rises – you are likely to be grateful for Chestnut Hill’s differentiation from other Philadelphia neighborhoods. And you definitely don’t want the city to treat development requests in Chestnut Hill the way they do for every other neighborhood. 

Likewise, the Chestnut Hill Local.  Since you are reading this, I would assume that you appreciate the fact that there is a local newspaper with experienced journalists covering your corner of Philadelphia. If you relied on The Inquirer for your local news, you’d be seriously underinformed, and your local politicians would have no one to hold their feet to the fire. And your local organizations would not have a platform to let the community know about their good works.  

In a recent essay in The Catalyst, William McKenzie wrote this about local newspapers: “Strong local journalism bolsters our democracy in several important ways. 

“The most essential one is that a local source of news helps create a shared culture. We live in a time when all sorts of political, social, and public health issues are tearing away at our notion of community. A respected news operation becomes a place to air grievances, discuss problems, learn about neighbors, celebrate big moments, and define the identity of a community. Not perfectly, but it is a way to strengthen the bonds of a community.”

There will be those who don’t agree that The Local plays an irreplaceable role in creating a shared culture and strengthening our bonds of community. Unfortunately, those people won’t find out they are wrong unless or until The Local goes the way of the other 25% of U.S. newspapers that ceased operation since 2004.  

Whether you think the print edition of The Chestnut Hill Local is an indispensable source of local news, or an anachronistic presence in the digital world, you benefit from The Local soldiering on – even if you never read it. 

The separate staffs and boards of the CHCA and The Local do what they do out of their love for the Chestnut Hill Community – and their commitment to serve it. It’s definitely not for glamor, or the lavish lifestyles. 

We are grateful to the 5% of households who have given to the Annual Appeal this year. It would be great if we could hear from the rest of you. 

And now is a perfect time – as you can double the impact of your gift due to a $25,000 challenge donation by an anonymous contributor. If the challenge is successful, that would mean an additional $50,000 to the Appeal. We are seeking five to 10 households who can contribute $2,500 to $5,000 to match this challenge, and will be reaching out to individuals directly.  

Once the challenge match has been met, we could meet our goal if 100 households gave $1,000 each.  For most of you, $1,000 is a ridiculous ask, I know.  But for some of you, it’s not much at all, not to preserve the exquisiteness of the neighborhood you love.  

Time is running out. Funds are desperately needed by the CHCA and The Local.  And while larger contributions are helpful, all donations of any size are, of course, welcomed and appreciated. 

Look around and notice what we do. We hope you agree that we are worthy of your financial support.