Roth grows into nonprofit role

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Chuck Roth serves as senior VP-product development at Farm Journal Media, where he focuses on the creation of large-scale, multimedia programs that leverage the full spectrum of the company's assets, from live events to digital initiatives, newsletters and televised programs. But he doesn't limit his efforts to one task. “You don't have to come to work in the same role every day,” he said. In December, he became president of the Farm Journal Foundation, an independent nonprofit launched last year and staffed by Farm Journal Media. Working with a seven-member board, he helps steer a new hunger campaign called “Farmers Feeding the World.” The campaign champions the primary function of agriculture, he said. “We feed people. It's time someone created a nationwide program that has goals that are meaningful in scale and can rally folks both on the farm and in the agribusiness sector.” By the end of March, the foundation had received multiyear commitments of more than $5 million, he said, and is working to gain sizable, long-term donation commitments from large corporations. Funds raised will go to food-focused organizations such as Heifer International and the United Nations World Food Program. By July 2012, the foundation would like to be bringing in $20 million a year—and that number should grow to $100 million over the long term, Roth said. “We're using our media expertise and position in the market to devise fundraising,” he said. The foundation has its own website and e-newsletter, and it will buy discounted ad spots from the media company, as well as spots from competitors. It also will launch a traveling exhibit at the Indianapolis 500, Roth said. The nonprofit, as such, may bring new opportunities to the media company, he said. The foundation opened a government relations office to promote the hunger campaign and advocate for the industry. “Traditionally, government looks at us as an outlet for news,” Roth said. “But we've had conversations about how our television shows and our websites could be used as information platforms beyond our hunger campaign.” Work with the foundation may lead to other for-profit initiatives as well, he said. “I don't want to overstate any particular opportunity, but it broadens your horizons in terms of looking at the world differently and, in our case, beyond the United States.” It provides a tangible connection to markets where it does not have a presence, like South America and Europe, he said. The success of the Farm Journal Legacy Project, an integrated media product focusing on farm succession—which won Farm Journal Media the 2011 American Business Media Grand Neal Award—gave the company the confidence to form the foundation, Roth said. Both the project and campaign address core issues in agriculture, helping deepen the media company's relationship with its audience and the industry, he said. “Something new like this opens doors,” Roth said, and “quite frankly, has presented a lot of opportunities to us. It's a matter of prioritizing and figuring out which ones to follow first.”
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