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Nonprofits owe much to Chesapeake

Deborah Mcauliffe Senner June 6th, 2012

As most of Oklahoma’s nonprofit organizations would agree, the landscape of our state’s charitable community would be much different without the generous support of our corporate donors. Allied Arts’ visionary donors — Chesapeake Energy, the Chickasaw Nation and Devon Energy — along with all our corporate partners, are committed to investing in the enhancement of the communities in which their employees live and work, and we are grateful beneficiaries.

Deborah McAuliffe Senner

Although these corporate partners provide significant financial support, these partnerships go much deeper. Many of these companies also encourage their employees to give generously of their time, talent and treasure to help build a stronger community and better place to live and work. Their employees are on our boards, working on our committees and volunteering at our events.

The support of these companies and their employees allow charitable organizations like Allied Arts to accomplish things for our community that would otherwise be impossible.

Six years ago, Chesapeake was the first company to make a transformational gift that enabled Allied Arts to raise more than $2 million for the arts for the first time in our organization’s history. Since then, Chesapeake has continued to be a leader in celebrating the arts and their vital importance to our community’s quality of life.

And when strong storms and floods in 2010 forced six arts organizations from their locations and ruined thousands of dollars of supplies, costumes, technology and other operational necessities, Chesapeake and Devon were the first to respond with financial contributions, office equipment and supplies, and other assistance.

Our nonprofit relationship with Chesapeake and all our corporate partners is a marriage — one that we respect and take great pride in. When the going gets tough, we respond as we would for any of our state’s visionary leaders: We stand by them.

During a recent press conference where local nonprofits joined to voice our support of Chesapeake and the importance of our corporate donors, I used a “what if” analogy borrowed from a scene in the Frank Capra movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, when an angel shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community would have been had he never been born.

Think about it: How different life in Oklahoma City would be if Aubrey McClendon and Chesapeake had never arrived. Would we have the exciting environment on the Oklahoma River? Would we be cheering on Oklahoma City’s own NBA team? What would the area at N.W. 63rd Street and Western Avenue and the Classen Curve be like? Would Central Oklahoma’s arts organizations be as strong and vibrant? Thousands in our community, our city, our state and beyond have been impacted by his generosity and vision.

We in the arts community applaud Chesapeake, Aubrey McClendon, and the many things that he, his company and employees have done and will continue to do for our nonprofit community.

Senner is president and CEO of Allied Arts.

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06.06.2012 at 08:04 Reply

In these times when millionaires and billionaires are getting such a bad rap, one must realize that spending that money generously is a double edged sword.  Spend too little and you're just an asshole, spend too much and you're self-aggrandizing.  

So I think it's not the easiest thing to be wealthy and liked.  In this regard, I have sympathy for some of our nations wealthy; even Aubrey.  Of course that doesn't mean I don't think they should pay an equal share in taxes.

One also tries to see this situation from a worldly perspective.  Chesapeake and Devon are natural gas companies.  To acquire this resource they do things to the environment that allegedly may contaminate ground water, allegedly may endanger humans and animals, and allegedly may possibly be linked to earthquakes.  They seemingly have no conscious about this, and totally deny any wrong doing.  (see the documentary “Gasland”)

Also as more people transition to NG vehicles, the now reasonable cost is going to rise to an unreasonable cost.  These businesses aren't necessarily trying to do anything beyond indoctrinating future consumers; to make us feel better about getting screwed by them instead of BP or Exxon.  If they can disguise what some might consider evil practices under a veil of cheap (to them) good deeds, why not?  It makes a lot of business sense to give to the community.

If these were not publically traded entities I would more easily buy into the idea of their benevolence.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where your commercial viability is enhanced by how many things you can place your name on.  In which case, this is just advertising, not generosity.

Don’t get me wrong, if I were running a corporation of that size, I would do the exact same thing; though I’d try to be more altruistic with my personal money than the company’s money.  Maybe that’s just how one thinks when they haven’t been exposed to wealth for decades, but I like to think it wouldn’t corrupt me.  If anyone at Chesapeake of Devon wants to test me on that, I'm up for the challenge.