I’m so glad we had this little chat!
September 15th marks the start of our 2010 Christmas Campaign. Obviously, it’s named for the end-point of the campaign, which will be the Christmas season. But the Christmas theme of gift-giving is certainly appropriate, and in fact many people purchase most of their Christmas gifts in September and October, in order to leave Advent free for more spiritual preparations.
This year’s Christmas Campaign will run for just over three months, with a goal of $120,000. The goal is pretty much a minimum, as it represents roughly what we need to meet our budget and cover our expenses for 2010. As the whole world must surely know by now, CatholicCulture.org is 100% user-supported. There is no private fortune or foundation at our disposal. In every way—prayers, ideas and financial support—our users are our strength.
In the course of 2010, we’ll serve about 2.5 million unique users, but the Internet is a tough medium when it comes to fundraising. If you don’t have a mainstream service which can attract a great deal of advertising, you’re faced with the task of generating either subscriptions or donations. Subscriptions are always problematic, because the rule of thumb which governs the web is that you must make your content freely available to attract people to your site. Contributions work better, but usually people won’t donate based on a web page. It takes an email to trigger donations, and that means you have to get email addresses.
The catch-22 is that it is hard to induce people to register on the web. One way to encourage registrations is to offer content by email, which we do through our biweekly Insights messages, our daily Catholic World News headlines, and our weekly liturgical year look-ahead message. Other techniques, which we have not yet implemented ourselves, include validated polls and petitions. (Direct-mail promotions use these same techniques to get people to part with their identity and location information.) In our experience and that of most other web sites, a user who registers is one in a thousand. Literally.
Here at CatholicCulture.org, we call those who register “members”. Members represent the cream of the user crop, that is, those who believe enough in our cause to put their contact information on record. In any given year, about ten percent of members will contribute financially. Others offer prayers or enrich our work by emailing us their ideas and suggestions. So CatholicCulture.org always finds itself in an awkward position. By the very nature of how things work, we are already in every member’s debt. And by the very nature of how things work, it is precisely this same group of members to which we must direct the bulk of our fund-raising efforts.
The mission of CatholicCulture.org is to enrich the faith of Catholics, strengthen the Catholic Church, and foster the development of authentically Catholic culture. We can succeed only if thousands of our users stand with us, shoulder to shoulder, not only in their own personal Catholic witness but in their financial support of this apostolic work. The Christmas Campaign is our main annual fund-raising effort. It’s the fund drive that propels us into the next year. In 2010, it’s the effort which determines whether the mission of CatholicCulture.org will continue in 2011.
So if you’re reading these words, I ask four things:
- If you’ve not yet done so, please become a member now. It is never necessary to donate, but we depend absolutely on being able to ask for financial support by email.
- If you are a member, please don’t be offended by our Christmas Campaign (or any other) appeals, no matter how frequent they become, which is based on need. Again, you may not be able to respond, but some will, and we depend absolutely on being able to ask.
- When you receive one of our appeals—especially if you’re sick of them!—use it as a reminder to say a little prayer for the success of our mission. Then, if you can’t respond materially, hit the delete key.
- Finally, please make a sincere effort to respond financially to our Christmas Campaign simply by putting CatholicCulture.org on your Christmas list, and offering us a Christmas gift. Barring an emergency, your gift will exempt you from solicitation for the remainder of the Campaign.
For more information and links, see our Christmas Campaign page.
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