History of the Fresno Advertising Federation and the Fresno Advertising Federation Foundation
The published record has the Fresno Ad Club formed in 1921 at a downtown hotel meeting with a reported first meeting attendance that attracted more than 300 advertising, marketing, public relations and commercial art professionals. The Fresno Ad Club, with clubs in San Francisco and Los Angeles and other clubs associated with the Advertising Association of the West, adopted the popular new marketing concept of “Truth in Advertising” and were instrumental in creating one of the original organizations that in later mergers became the national Better Business Bureau.
The Fresno Ad Club thrived through the Roaring 20s, Depression, World War and the Baby Boom, and the Fresno ad industry grew steadily as Valley business and industry expanded. In addition to a large contingent of local advertising agencies and marketing divisions, San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles agencies had branch offices in Fresno to serve agricultural and financial accounts. Ad Club archives contain notices for weekly luncheons – mimeographed 3x5 manila postcards that mailed for three cents – that were mailed to a list of 1,000 recipients. An open bar was always provided, and once a year there was a special "Ladies Day."
In the early 1970s the IRS filed a notice questioning what the Fresno Ad Club had presumed was its tax-exempt, not-for-profit tax status and requested payment of back taxes. With the assistance of the new American Advertising Federation, which had unified most of the regional advertising associations, the Fresno Ad Club Board of Directors and the membership formed the new Fresno Advertising Federation as a business league, which was intended to provide increased protection for the organization and its Directors, and to maintain its tax-exempt status. The strategy worked; the IRS withdrew its claim and awarded tax exempt status.
In 1978-79, emerging from a demoralizing multi-year financially stressful period (the new Federation dwindled to 75 members, many general meetings were cancelled, the Executive Secretary worked without pay, no scholarships were awarded and individual Board members fronted the phone bill) the Board developed the Golden Oak Awards now the Addy Awards. The first presentation of the awards in March 1979 rejuvenated the organization and provided revenue of about $5,000. The Board of Directors voted to use most of the revenue to pay off debts, and voted to create the John Reed King Memorial Scholarship Fund with an initial deposit of $1,000, stating the vision of developing a sustaining fund to ensure the organization could award scholarships annually in perpetuity, regardless of any future fiscal standing.
In the mid-1990s, with the assistance of the Federation attorney, the Board and the Federation membership voted to imbed the JRK fund into the By-laws as a sustaining fund that would remain untouchable in perpetuity. The Board and the membership agreed that this was necessary because previous Boards had used the Fund as an asset, transferring funds from it to meet urgent obligations and once risking it as collateral for a general fund loan when an Addy Awards presentation exceeded budget and financially stressed the organization.
The new section of the By-laws (now the Federations Articles of Incorporation) was inserted to show proof positive that the Federation Board of Directors and members did not consider the Fund to be an asset, but instead a long-term commitment to a scholarship-generating mechanism that was placed beyond the grasp of the organization in any but the most calamitous occasion.
The vote to approve this addition to the By-laws was not without question and consideration, but the eventual vote of the Board of Directors unanimously sent the proposed amendment to the membership where it was adopted and applauded at a large general meeting.
As the Fund grew, Board Treasurer Larry Early, a former accountant, Deborah Boyett, the Federation attorney, and Oran McNeil, the Federation CPA encouraged the Board to become better informed of IRS rulings and the risks associated with amassing and distributing a sizable fund. Beginning in the mid-1990s, the American Advertising Federation recommended that its member organizations consider not-for-profit incorporation to protect their tax-exempt status and, not coincidentally, strengthen the national organization by ensuring that member clubs had formal legal, not ad-hoc, status.
At the beginning of this century, the Board of Directors began a two-year effort to incorporate the Federation. The Federation's attorney provided thousands of dollars of pro-bono assistance and the Federation Board and Federation membership voted unanimously to incorporate. At the general meeting where the vote to incorporate was held, the members applauded.
By the middle of the first decade of the century, the American Advertising Federation had fostered the forming of charitable foundations by the largest 30 of its 200 member clubs, and at a national Conference, the AAF Chairman went into great detail about the advantages of forming more foundations, particularly as to how charitable foundation status related to the accumulation of sizable sustaining funds. The IRS had grown particularly successful at targeting holdings of business leagues as taxable income, and the best answer was to form a charitable foundation.
In Fresno, the Federation attorney and the Federation CPA recommended that the Federation set up a foundation independent of the Federation to take advantage of a number of federal and state opportunities, to seek and administer grants and to hold the John Reed King Fund with complete tax-exempt safety. In addition, as a 501.c3 charitable organization, the Foundation would have the unique ability to grow the scholarship fund through the solicitation of charitable donations, a capability the Federation cannot possess. The Federation Board paid the Federation attorney $500 to file extensive documents and form a Foundation. The Federation Board authorized Art Reker to form a Foundation Board of Directors.
The Fresno Advertising Federation Foundation received its 501.c3 non-profit status in 2006 and began fulfilling the mandates of its mission required by the federal government to retain 501.c3 status, which include demonstrating broad-based community support, fostering learning programs for Central Californians of all ages, developing on line and social media materials, encouraging scholastic excellence through scholarship awards, and to regularly disburse funds for purposes that fulfill the mission of the Foundation.
Today the Foundation is a strong, financially solvent, independent organization. The seven members of the Board of Directors are, as required by the Foundation By-laws, members of the Fresno Advertising Federation. The Foundation has held three successful Media Auctions, and a successful public information meeting which attracted a broad base of attendees from the business community, beyond the advertising industry. The Foundations web site enjoys more than 1,500 unique visits every month, the Facebook page has 151 fans, and 79 followers have joined the Twitter account.
Over the past few years the Foundation has assisted the Federation by providing hundreds of hours of labor to produce two Ad Club Honors receptions, and provided $6,000 in matching funds for student scholarships. So far in 2010 the Foundation is committed to underwriting the Ad Club Honors plaques as well as matching the scholarship awards, and hopes to play a central charitable role in future activities of the Jack Moody Community Action Team. The Foundation actively seeks additional partnerships with the Federation and compatible organizations to fulfill its mission.
Stanley Grady the first President of the Fresno Advertising Federation, inaugurated 1921.
Jack Moody One of four honorary lifetime members of the Fresno Advertising Federation, inducted into the Central California Advertising and Marketing Hall of Fame in 1998, awarded the AAF Silver Medal in 1981. Jack Moody Community Action Team inaugurated in his honor in 1995.
Cliff Davis One of four honorary lifetime members of the Fresno Advertising Federation, the inaugural induction into the Central California Advertising and Marketing Hall of Fame in 1997, the first AAF Silver Medal recipient in 1965. A two-term Federation president, and consulting team member of the first Golden Oak Awards.
Blair Looney Served as president of the Federation in 1973 when the Club surmounted the IRS obstacle. This accomplishment was noted when he was inducted into the Central California Advertising and Marketing Hall of Fame in 2009.
Marge Traver Retired Executive Secretary who continued her duties without pay during the late 1970s downturn of the Federation. Received the 2005 Betty Riehl Excellence in Service Award at the AAF National Conference and inducted into the Central California Advertising and Marketing Hall of Fame that same year.
Larry Gamble Creator of the Golden Oak Awards in 1979, precursor to the Addy Awards. Served as President of the Federation in 1981 and received the AAF Silver Medal in 1983.
Susan Good Co-producer of the Golden Oak Awards in 1979. Served as President of the Federation in 1982, received the AAF Silver Medal in 1982 and was inducted into the Central California Advertising and Marketing Hall of Fame in 2009.
Art Reker Co-producer of the Golden Oak Awards in 1979 and producer of 11 more Addy Awards presentations. Served as President of the Federation in 1979, 1980 and 1992. Served as Treasurer of the organization from 1993 to 2004. Awarded the AAF Silver Medal in 1991. One of four honorary lifetime members. Inducted into the Central California Advertising and Marketing Hall of Fame in 2001. Authorized by the Fresno Advertising Federation to form the Fresno Advertising Federation Foundation in 2005.
Deborah Boyett President of the Federation in 1990. Awarded the AAF Silver Medal in 1989. Passed the State bar in the early 1990s and devoted thousands of dollars of pro-bono consultation and expertise to the Federation.
Oran McNeil The Federation's trusted CPA for more than 40 years.
Larry Early the late co-owner of Dumont printing, Mr. Early joined the Board of Directors in 1991 as Treasurer and implemented a rigorous bookkeeping system that reported a wide variety of detailed financial information to the Board. Adept at accounting and well informed on business league regulations, he encouraged the Board to understand the risks associated in membership on any Board and become actively involved in the research and decision-making process. The third inductee to the Central California Advertising and Marketing Hall of Fame in 1999.
Wally Snyder Chairman of the American Advertising Federation
Jenny Dowdy President of the Federation in 2002 who set the goal to incorporate the Federation. This effort was cited when she received the AAF Silver Medal in 2007.
Tricia Bowlby President of the Federation in 2004 who helped introduce the concept of the Foundation to the Board of Directors. Awarded the AAF Silver Medal in 2008.
Vince Coronado President of the Federation in 2005 who encouraged the Board of Directors to allocate funding to establish the Foundation.
Eric McCormick President of the Federation in 2006 who worked to form and support the emerging Foundation. Awarded the AAF Silver Medal in 2006.
Tracy Lifer President of the Federation in 2007 who helped introduce the Foundation to the Federation membership.
Marv Allen Owner of Studio B Productions, one of four honorary lifetime members of the Fresno Advertising Federation, veteran member of the Federation Board of Directors, and charter Board member of the Foundation.
Connie Batti Girl Scouts Golden Valley Council, two term Federation President 1992 and 1993. Originator of the Jack Moody Community Action Team. Recipient of the AAF Silver Medal in 1996.
Susan Blaze sales manager with KFSN ABC 30, received the Nancy Thielen Award in 1993. Served as two term President of the Federation in 1999 and 2000. Recipient of the AAF Silver Medal in 2000 and inducted into the Central California Advertising and Marketing Hall of Fame in 2008.
Carleen Dark then Sales Manager with Peak Broadcasting, member of the Fresno Advertising Federation and charter Board member of the Foundation.
Jan Edwards Educator and marketer, Federation president in 1998, recipient of the AAF Silver Medal in 2000, inducted into the Central California Advertising and Marketing Hall of Fame in 2006.
Paul McDougal owner, McDougal Marketing. First recipient of the Nancy Thielen Award in 1994. Veteran member of the Federation Board of Directors and second president of the Foundation.
Wendy Revell co-owner of Revcom Advertising, former Treasurer of the Federation Board of Directors, charter Board member of the Foundation.
Brad Stiers Owner of Pacific Printing, veteran member of the Fresno Advertising Federation, charter Board member of the Foundation.