Feedback time (Yes, if possible, this means you!)
It is time to ask for feedback on three of our initiatives. The insights and opinions of our users are very important to getting things right. To offer your ideas on these three topics, simply click the email link at the top of this commentary, to the left of my name. This will open our contact form, and whatever your write will be emailed directly to me.
For the three topics below, I offer a large number of questions to stimulate your thoughts. There is no need to answer all of them or even most of them. When you have an opinion or an idea, I simply want to hear it! So here goes.
THE CATHOLIC CULTURE PODCAST
Thomas V. Mirus had established the reputation of The Catholic Culture Podcast as an enriching source for interviews with key Catholics (and sometimes other Christians) who are making important contributions to everything from current events to philosophy to the arts. Thomas has also reviewed movies and music.
The Podcast is our primary audio medium, and I believe the sound of the human voice helps to create a stronger connection with those who listen. It is also the communications system we use most for a Catholic exploration of the arts. It is just a year old now, and we have learned a great deal about podcasting in this first year. In the second year, we want to strengthen the Podcast. We want to make it better.
If you have listened to the Podcast, or are potentially interested in doing so, your answers to the following questions will help in future planning:
- What topics are you most interested in?
- What is your preferred length for a podcast episode?
- What do you regard as a good frequency for a podcast of this type?
- Are you interested in frequent interviews or would you prefer greater use of some other format?
- What other formats, if any, would you like to see developed?
- Given that the Podcast is an audio medium, would you like to hear Thomas do more with music on the Podcast?
- What technical changes or improvements would you recommend?
- If you would like to comment on Podcast episodes, what method/venue for comments would work best for you?
- How much of each episode do you typically listen to? Do you tend to listen all at once or in bits and pieces? Do you usually listen while you are doing something else?
- Do you have any guests you would like to recommend?
- If you can donate in support of CatholicCulture.org, do you have a particular interest in supporting the Podcast?
- Similarly, as a donor, do you have a particular interest in supporting Catholic exploration of the arts?
- What other ideas do you have for the improvement of The Catholic Culture Podcast?
Late last year, I became interested in expanding the use of media (other than the written word) in the mission of CatholicCulture.org—without diminishing the importance of good writing to that mission. I spent a few weeks writing the code for a new “multimedia blog” which enables our staff to post pictures, audios, videos, and convenient links which we can use to group related resources on the website.
As a proof of concept of the last option (grouping material through handy links), I posted Pope Leo XIII’s ten encyclicals on the Rosary and Modern Popes on the Rosary and Jennifer Gregory Miller posted Baptism is a New Beginning. But for true use of the multimedia possibilities, I began a series of video lectures called the “How do we really know?” series.
Now I’ve released three presentations in this series, in both video and audio-only form:
- How do we really know Jesus Christ rose from the dead?
- How do we really know Jesus Christ founded a specific Church?
- How do we really know the pope has Christ’s authority in the Church?
These videos range between about 22 and 31 minutes long, and they are probably the longest to be included in the series, since they were topics I had researched and written about heavily many years ago, so I had perhaps too much material. I’m thinking shorter is generally better. But I’m also thinking that I am not the same young, energetic daily-in-the-classroom college professor I was when I first charged forth as a lecturer. I’m gradually becoming more comfortable again with this type of presentation, and doing it without an audience. I’ve also learned a little bit about effective video recording and editing but—let’s face it—probably not all that much!
This is not professional quality, but it is also incredibly inexpensive. Everything is done with a consumer-grade camcorder in the ten or so square feet available to me in one corner of the guest room that doubles as my home office. Your donation dollars are carefully conserved. Always. I’ve found it enjoyable and interesting to learn something new. But I have all kinds of questions for those who are interested enough to have sampled the presentations:
- Honesty required: Am I showing enough promise to continue doing video presentations myself?
- If so, what should I focus on to improve my own presentations?
- If not, would you be interested in this kind of material with a more engaging presenter?
- To keep your interest and attention, what needs to be improved in content, presentation, and quality of video and audio?
- If you enjoy using AV presentations, do you prefer video or audio-only?
- If audio-only, would you be interested in having more formal presentations of this type included in The Catholic Culture Podcast program schedule?
- What topics would you like to see covered in presentations of this type?
- For your purposes, what is the optimum length of a lecture-type presentation on Catholic topics?
- Do you prefer a sustained series of episodes on a single general topic (“teach systematically”) or a more random series on a wider variety of topics (“surprise and inspire”)?
- As multimedia materials from CatholicCulture.org increase, will our work become more valuable to you?
- Can you foresee multimedia materials being more valuable to you than our written material?
Fundraising is a continuing conundrum at CatholicCulture.org. We deliberately rely on user-support not only because that’s where my own fundraising abilities have led but because I sincerely believe that massive funding from major foundations or corporations tends to divorce apostolic work from the people it is supposed to serve, reducing spiritual accountability, and increasing waste. But the downside is that each year CatholicCulture.org must raise its budget from people like you who reading this request for feedback...and nobody really likes fundraising emails.
So every once in a while we ask for the thoughts our users may have about effective, efficient fundraising. Here are this year’s questions:
- What do you dislike about the way CatholicCulture.org handles fundraising?
- What do you like about the way we do it?
- Are you more likely to contribute during those campaigns in which your gift will be matched by a challenge grant?
- In what periods of the year do you find it easiest to make decisions about donating to the causes you are interested in supporting?
- What do you see as the strongest “selling points” of CatholicCulture.org in seeking contributions?
- Are you typically more motivated to contribute to particular projects than to provide general budget support?
- What factors most influence your decision about whether or not to make an ongoing monthly pledge to an organization?
- Would you prefer to make one considered commitment for the entire year or to receive fundraising appeals throughout the year to which you can respond as appropriate to your ongoing situation?
- Do you have any ideas for making our fundraising program more effective?
Again, there is no need whatsoever to attempt to answer all of these questions. But I would very much like your feedback on any questions that interest you. Again, to respond, click the “email” link at the top of this commentary, next to my name. That will open our contact form, and whatever you type into the form will be emailed directly to me.
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!