Making Our Case: Is CatholicCulture.org Worth Supporting?
I am a firm believer that the support of apostolic work should stand or fall on whether a large number of people find it valuable. It sometimes happens even in Catholic work that the availability of substantial funds from a small group of financial angels can obscure the usefulness test. Do the activities of the organization in question really make a difference to those who are supposed to benefit from them? Is the apostolate based only on the peculiarities of its leaders, or is it firmly rooted in genuine service that really helps others?
I ask myself this question each year as CatholicCulture.org comes down to the wire in its annual Fall campaign. What will our users decide?
Those who receive our appeals may not guess how much I hate talking about money. But I also have a responsibility to God, to the Church, to our Catholic mission, to all who can benefit from that mission, and to our staff and their families. I still think our mission is important; and so, of course, I believe there is ample reason for people to fund it through their donations. But in the end, this must be decided by our users, or the lack thereof.
A Substantial Hurdle
Between now and the end of the year, we must raise $95,000 [progress: $22,000 as of December 11th - JM]. This will bring our total operational revenue for the year to about $370,000, which will just cover all of our expenses for 2013 plus perhaps $10,000 more toward new staff we must add as soon as possible to improve our level of service in some key areas.
This $10,000 needs to be added to $20,000 we raised this past Spring specifically for staff expansion in 2014, because we cannot act on this until we reach $30,000. As the number of users around the world has grown—at four million, it will be about three times what it was four years ago—the workload in several areas has increased substantially. As time goes on, the need to freshen our material and introduce new voices increases as well.
In any case, our annual budget for 2013 was originally projected at $342,500, but our total expenses this year will be about $360,000, for two reasons: First, the growth I’ve alluded to, which has already led to increased costs; and second, our month-long battle this past Summer against an extended attack on our website by hackers in China.
So we have about eight weeks to raise $95,000 [progress: three weeks to raise $22,000 as of December 11th - JM]. If we do not meet this goal, I cannot see how we could continue. We already have, by a wide margin, the lowest cost per person served (less than ten cents) of any comparable organization. We pared our budget to the bone (again) at the end of last year, and the result was that we under-projected our actual costs. Here at Trinity Communications, there is no wiggle room.
Claims to Fame
So why should anyone support CatholicCulture.org? Why should you? The first reason is obvious: If you have been helped by our Catholic news, commentary, documents and spiritual resources, then that is the best of all possible reasons. The second reason is similar: If you believe what we do is also important for others around the world, and you recognize that a great many who benefit cannot contribute, then that is another reason for offering your financial support.
The other reasons are both quantitative and qualitative. Quantitatively, according to a study by the American bishops commissioned in 2012, CatholicCulture.org is the seventh-most visited Catholic website in the world, trailing organizations like the Vatican, the USCCB, and Notre Dame (fueled, of course, by sports). Among organizations with a news service, we rank first. By which I mean number one. In the world.
Speaking of news for a moment, did you know that our stories typically appear at least a day earlier than coverage of the same events in other venues? This means that among good Catholic outlets, we are really providing the basis of the news for a great many other organizations. Not infrequently we receive emails demanding to know why other outlets have covered situation X today and we have not. Almost always, the answer is that we have already covered it. Yesterday or two or three days ago. When it happened.
But CatholicCulture.org does not stop with news. We write constant analysis of events, trends, and issues of all types—including moral, philosophical, theological and cultural issues—in our Commentary sections: On the News, On the Culture, In Depth Analysis, and The City Gates. We also maintain an extensive resource library, including the Pope’s talks, homilies and audiences; the best addresses and pastoral letters by other prominent Church leaders; official Church documents of every kind; and major Catholic articles.
All of this is supplemented by important reference materials: A Catholic dictionary, a searchable version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and a complete collection of the works of the Fathers of the Church. We even maintain a full set of reviews of other significant Catholic resources available on the world wide web—so that if you encounter problems or confusion in looking into some topic, you can often check the reliability of the source right here on CatholicCulture.org.
Minds and Hearts
But we are not concerned only with information and analysis. A key component of what we do is oriented toward spiritual growth. Our resources are consulted again and again in RCIA and catechetical programs, in book clubs, in discussion and prayer groups. Our original material is picked up not only in countless blogs and radio broadcasts, but in parish newsletters and Church bulletins. We write about spiritual questions and spiritual development. And we emphasize the need to adopt what we call “the mind of the Church”, which is perhaps the key in our times to developing true life in Christ.
We do this in two ways. First, we provide the most extensive collection of resources anywhere for living the liturgical year in the domestic Church, helping parents grow spiritually themselves while fostering a domestic culture which enables the Faith to seep into the very bones of their children. All of these resources—lives of saints, histories of feasts, prayers, activities and recipes—are linked to our incomparable liturgical calendar.
Second, we not only submit ourselves to the Magisterium of the Church, but we chart a prudent and time-honored spiritual course which avoids the Scylla and Charybdis of left and right, the twin pitfalls of the modern world. We are equally untempted by Modernism and Traditionalism, and also untempted by inordinate personal spiritual attachments, such as anti-ecclesial claims to inspiration by the Holy Spirit, or non-ecclesial reliance on particular claimed apparitions.
Again and again we steer a course for all our users which is firmly rooted in authentic Catholic spirituality and which follows the leadership of the Successor of Peter. The ancient expression “Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia” has never been more true: Where Peter is, there is the Church.
So is CatholicCulture.org worth supporting? Is it important to the new evangelization? I believe it is, but only our users know for sure.
We have $95,000 to raise by the end of this year. To help us, a group of 145 Boosters and Pledgers have offered a combined Challenge Grant to match any donations we receive up to $35,000. If we can meet that challenge, we’ll be getting close. Then, at the end of the year, we will know.
An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:
Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!
Progress toward our September expenses ($14,243 to go):
All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!
Posted by: John Holecek -
Nov. 11, 2013 12:36 PM ET USA
Yes, your apostolate is worth supporting. I'll do my usual year-end gift. Don't lose heart!
Posted by: ForOthers8614 -
Nov. 10, 2013 10:27 PM ET USA
I wish to extend my thanks as a Catholic for those who support this faithful and frank resource. My faith is enriched and informed by this website. Dr. Mirus et al, thank you as well for being such a trustworthy source. I do support you, but only with prayers because of our financial state. May God richly bless your apostolate for our Holy Mother Church.
Posted by: ElizabethD -
Nov. 08, 2013 7:37 PM ET USA
I read a lot of Catholic websites and I do think Catholic Culture is particularly excellent and credible. A remarkable amount of funds go into this site. It does suggest I'm not the only one who thinks this is particularly excellent and does a real service. I am glad for whoever provides the matching funds. It helps those of us tempted to think "my small donation makes no difference."
Posted by: jg23753479 -
Nov. 08, 2013 7:35 PM ET USA
Yes, Jeff, it most certainly IS worth supporting. I am doubling my monthly pledge in a few moments. Your site has become a regular part of my daily routine, a place where I can keep track of the many important things going on in the Church; I would find my morning coffee to be a much poorer thing without it.