Last month, I did a little cheerleading for Civil War Trails. It was time to re-up my sponsorship of a sign, and I was glad to do so.
As it turned out, in the days following, the Trails launched an effort to find additional sponsors for some of their signs. The COVID pandemic has hit a number of their usual sponsors pretty hard, and because of the resultant financial pinch, they had to withdraw their sign sponsorships. Civil War Trails was making a push to cover the unexpected gap.
Fortunately, the Civil War Roundtable Congress, in an effort to lead by example, stepped up to help spread the word and connect interested roundtables (and their members) with signs in need of sponsorship.
“My hope is that this ask will see us through the year or two while we wait for the previous sponsors, the tourism offices to bounce back from COVID,” said Drew Gruber, Executive Director of Civil War Trails. “Since 1994 we have never had to do traditional fund-raising since we relied on the tourism offices and I hope we can quickly return to that model.”
Sign sponsorship, only $200/year, can come from organizations or individuals. “When individuals sponsor signs or make donations to Civil War Trails, it is tax deductible,” Gruber says, “so we often have folks sponsor a sign where their ancestors fought, or just make a general donation to close out the tax year.”
But Gruber stressed that the Trails isn’t just looking for money (although money is helpful!). He welcomes the input of roundtables to keep Trails signs up to date, accurate, and relevant. “As roundtables promote scholarship and research, if at any point there is new research about a CWT site, just let us know,” Gruber said. “We are constantly updating signs to reflect new research, photos, etc.”
Signs, he said, should not be permanent fixtures on the landscape, “but should be flexible to constantly highlight new research, to reflect changing site amenities, and of course to ensure we are telling inclusive, diverse stories for the benefit for all travelers. That is our mantra here at CWT.”
Find out how you can get involved at the Civil War Trails website.