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seeing red

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 04, 2007

It appears that the heydey of Voice of the Faithful is behind us, and there are tough times ahead:

According to an account of the meeting posted on the organization's Web site at www.votf.org, "Both Bill Casey and Mark Mullaney described the financial shortfall VOTF will face in the coming months. Although the number of individual contributors has increased, in the past year or so the number of major donors has declined. VOTF must reverse this trend to erase a projected $100,000 deficit in the next fiscal year."

This struck me as perplexing. What does VOTF concretely do to put it a hundred thou in the red? We'd been led to believe it was a kind of non-stop town hall meeting for exasperated Catholics, more or less spontaneously gathering in the church basement or the school gymnasium.

A visit to Guidestar gives us a look at VOTF's 990 form for 2005, the most recent year available. It shows total revenue of $603,763 and total expenses of $704,410, for a deficit of $75,647.

Under Grants & Allocations, interestingly, we find $300 donations VOTF made to three Boston-area churches: St. Ignatius (the Jesuit parish on BC's campus); Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton (this while Walter Cuenin was still pastor); and St. John the Evangelist in Wellesley. None of those parishes may be said to be hurting for funds. VOTF's support says lots about its take on The Crisis, however, and about where it would find the solution.

Among what are listed as "functional expenses," the item that stuck out was the whopping $96,043 for postage, $89,535 of which is marked down to postage for fundraising. That's a lot of stamps. And it calls into the question the claim that VOTF is simply providing a room full of stackable chairs and a microphone so that Joe Sixpack can unburden himself of his mounting frustration with church management. At that rate of mailing you're trying to create and increase resentment -- not to channel toward constructive ends resentment that exists independently of your efforts.

That $900 bounce-passed to Boston's boutique conventicles? It almost certainly wasn't spent on rosaries.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Jun. 05, 2007 9:13 AM ET USA

    Gentle Bill: It was a typo, with the unintended result of protecting the guilty. Mike Kirk-Duggan aka hUMPTY dUMPTY

  • Posted by: - Jun. 05, 2007 8:18 AM ET USA

    hUMPTY dUMPTY is right. The same thing happened to me; a visiting priest representing "Food for the Poor" made an appeal during the sermon at Mass, and I sent them a $50 check; the mailings I have received since then, seeking additional donations, have been legion - and they appear to be rather expensive (not even counting the postage). I wonder if hUMPTY dUMPTY made a typo when he said "Food for the People"; and was it really "Food for the Poor?"

  • Posted by: - Jun. 05, 2007 6:38 AM ET USA

    This type of fundraising -- using donations to seek more donations -- is not that unusual. Recently a visiting priest made a plea for "Food for the People." I put a check for $50 in the basket. Since then the mailings from this Catholic Charity to me have greatly exceeded the $50 donation. Sounds like Martin Luther was right when he opposed the sale of indulgences in order to build St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Beati pauperes, quoniam tanto plus pecunae nobis reliquis relinquunt!

  • Posted by: - Jun. 04, 2007 4:35 PM ET USA

    We don't hear much about VOTF in SW Florida. I know I have been living in the sticks too long...I never got even an email from VOTF (I;m glad they did not waste stamps on me) and I couldn't tell you what a boston boutique conventicles is. Should I know? I'll look it up. Ah ha: "a religious meeting, especially a secret or illegal one, such as those held by dissenters in England and Scotland in the 16th and 17 century" Now isn't it strange how far back the American Heritage Dict went for that def

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