Will You Be Our Friend?

by Lucianne Englert

Picture yourself in a gathering, possibly sipping tea, listening to chamber music from the stereo. Perhaps you are a member of the Friends of the Lilly Library, a Friend of the IU School of Music, or . . . a Friend of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. Does the picture in your mind change?
With the fiftieth anniversary of the institute, Director Dr. John Bancroft and several staff members have begun to organize a Friends of the Kinsey Institute group. They have researched several similar groups at IU and elsewhere and have been constructing a mailing list of former employees, donors, faculty who have served on institute committees, and past friends and supporters of the institute. In contrast to some similar organizations, the Friends of the Kinsey Institute will attempt to "attract people not simply based on their ability to donate financially, but based on their interest in and support of our mission," Bancroft says.

The institute's mission, to promote interdisciplinary research and scholarship in the fields of human sexuality, gender, and reproduction, has far-reaching significance, and the relevance of the institute's research and activities extends beyond university or local boundaries. "Just as scholars and professionals from all over the world have used our library and collections, we expect our Friends membership to extend beyond Bloomington or even Indiana," says Ruth Beasley, a former Kinsey Institute staff member who has volunteered to organize the Friends group.

The Friends will be more than "an informed group," according to Beasley; they will be an active organization. "We want to keep the emphasis on Friends rather than on solicitation," she continues. "Like any institution, we always need money--we always have and always will. People have been most generous. With the Friends group, we specifically want to build and maintain relationships."

Both Beasley and Bancroft expect the membership to be diverse and for members to have different reasons for joining. "Some Friends will be happy to act as 'informed ambassadors' of some sort," Beasley notes. "Others will have very private reasons for supporting us and will want to stay private." The public involvement of Friends need not always be direct. "We want our Friends to give us feedback about how people are thinking and reacting in the community, specifically about the Kinsey Institute, but also about the cultural and social issues the institute is dealing with," Bancroft says. "We want people to help us in various other ways, including volunteering and helping us with fundraising.

Members will pay a "modest sum of money to cover the costs of running the group and keeping in contact with them," Bancroft says. "Primarily, we're inviting people to join who have a commitment to our mission and who will offer the benefit of their opinions" to the institute along with their financial support. The Friends group will be self-administered and linked to the institute's board of trustees.

"The main benefit Friends will find is to feel that they are involved in an enterprise that they believe is important and that they can contribute in various ways to the functioning of that enterprise," Bancroft says. Friends will also receive various benefits including a newsletter, announcements of upcoming scientific meetings, options for discounts on publications of the institute, and invitations to receptions and exhibitions.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Friends of the Kinsey Institute should contact Ruth Beasley (812-855-7686 or e-mail at Kinsey