WE’VE GOT A GAP
THAT ONLY OUR FRIENDS
Dear friend of Catholic Answers:
As we approach the mid-point of the year, we also approach the end of Catholic Answers’ fiscal year (which runs from July 1 to June 30). It’s time for us to take stock of what this apostolate has accomplished during the previous twelve months (lots of good, we hope!) and wonder whether we’re going to end the fiscal year in the black or the red.
Most years, it looks like we’ll end in the red—some years by a little, some by a lot. That’s because we continue our apologetics work, without slacking off, even though donations drop off precipitously as summer approaches.
To keep us going, each year I ask our friends—including you—to make up the difference, so we can end the fiscal year in the black, even if ever so slightly, so that our outside auditors won’t give us a hassle.
And each year you and many others come through for us, closing the gap all the way or—sometimes—closing it almost all the way but not completely. Either way, we’re able to enter the new fiscal year, on July 1, with a head of steam that takes us into the financially more comfortable months of autumn.
This doesn’t happen just on its own, of course. I have learned that I need to remind folks about the things we do here, day in and day out, and why our apostolic work needs to continue without letup.
So I ask you to keep in mind the following:
OUR SIX TOP PROJECTS
CATHOLIC ANSWERS LIVE
Without doubt, this is the country’s #1 Catholic radio program. We know, because that’s what listeners tell us, and it’s also what radio station managers tell us.
Catholic Answers Live now airs on 180 stations around the country—and, finally, even here in San Diego, as of March of this year.
As I sometimes remark when I’m at the studio microphone, when you listen to radio, it seems “free.” You turn a dial or push a button, and you’re listening to Catholic Answers Live. Few people understand how costly it is to produce top-flight programming.
It costs us well over half a million dollars a year. Part of that is recouped through our Radio Club (many thanks, members!). The rest has to be covered by Catholic Answers’ general fund, of which there isn’t remotely enough.
CATHOLIC ANSWERS FORUMS
Our forums have 330,000 registered members, up from 260,000 last year. (And there are about four times that many unregistered visitors.) Ours are the largest Catholic forums in the world.
At them you’ll find nearly 600,000 conversations and 9.4 million individual posts—in other words, if you have an interest in something, you’ll find a discussion about it at our forums.
And not just a discussion, but help. Every day, thousands of people have their questions about the faith—and about the problems in their lives—answered at our forums. The answers come chiefly not from our staff apologists but from other forum members. It’s member helping member, to everyone’s benefit.
Forum members underwrite a good part of the yearly cost of the forums, but not all. The balance, again, comes out of our general fund.
Last year we unveiled the new redesign for our website—to rave reviews. We’re now in the midst of the second phase of the redesign and hope to put it into place later this year.
Major changes such as these don’t come cheaply. Most years, catholic.com runs a shortfall of more than $250,000. This year the shortfall will be unavoidably greater because of the changes we’re working on.
We’re confident that the changes will bring catholic.com into the black eventually—but how do we get from here to there? Only with your help.
CATHOLIC ANSWERS MAGAZINE
Last year we made big changes to our magazine—new look, new content, new writers, and a “return to our roots.” It even got a new name, going from This Rock to Catholic Answers Magazine.
The response from readers has been near-universal exultation, as shown in our paid circulation figures. While nearly every other Catholic magazine is losing subscribers (or just going out of business), our numbers are increasing. A year ago we had 12,500 subscribers; today we have more than 14,000.
Like other good magazines, Catholic Answers Magazine never has been able to cover all of its expenses through subscription fees. We hope to come closer, as the number of readers increases, but there likely always will be a shortfall.
Last year we brought on two new speakers, Leah Darrow and Matt Fradd. We knew they’d be popular, but their schedules are filling up much more quickly than we had anticipated—an indication of how well the chastity message is being received.
Each year they and our other chastity speakers, such as Jason Evert, travel throughout the country and speak to more than 100,000 young people about the importance of chastity. But they do more than just speak about the issue. They distribute tens of thousands of free booklets, chastity commitment cards, rosaries, Miraculous Medals, and other resources to help reinforce the chastity message.
We also run a teen-friendly web site, chastity.com, that helps young people keep their chastity or, as the case may be, helps them turn their lives around, back toward the Church and away from impurity.
This is another area where we’re making progress. We’re poised to expand the work in a big way but we’re hampered because the chastity outreach hasn’t ever quite covered its own costs.
ONE-ON-ONE OUTREACH BY STAFF APOLOGISTS
We have eight top-notch apologists on staff. You may not have heard of all—or even most—of them because they mainly work out of the public eye, each year dealing one-on-one with many thousands of people who need individualized attention if their intellectual, theological, or family problems are to be resolved.
These same apologists have a more public role, too. They answer thousands of questions that end up at catholic.com and our forums, and they also compose many of the articles, columns, books, and booklets that make such a difference to many inquirers.
Much of their work—such as the one-on-one contacts—brings in no income, but it’s a work that needs to be done. This year, the apologetics department will run a shortfall approaching $200,000.
A BUSINESS, YES, BUT FIRST AN APOSTOLATE
As you see, most of our activities don’t pay for themselves. Most of them run at a loss. If Catholic Answers were “just a business,” we could bring the bottom line from red to black by eliminating all projects that don’t show a profit.
But we aren’t here to fatten the bottom line for shareholders. (We don’t even have any shareholders.) We’re here to spread and defend the Catholic faith.
We’re not alone in this work. There are thousands of people (you included) who know that, while an apostolate should be run in an efficient and businesslike manner, the chief dividends it produces are spiritual. They are found not on ledgers or spreadsheets but in the hearts and minds of the people we reach.
Catholic Answers must depend on the generous support of people who see value in its apostolic work—even if that work doesn’t turn a material profit. (We believe it turns another, higher sort of profit.)
People like you help close the gap. You and many like you allow us to continue—and expand!—these apostolic activities, each of which, alas, requires very material dollars to keep going.
Without your continued support, Catholic Answers would have no choice: We’d have to cut, trim, and maybe even cancel some of the projects I’ve listed in this letter. We don’t want to do that, and I don’t think you want us to either. [Click here to donate.]
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS
Each year at this time you and our other friends come through with special help, and usually we enter the new fiscal year in the black—or at least near enough to the black that we don’t worry about having to shut the doors on one of our major areas of work.
And so, as I did last year at this time, I’m asking you to make a special gift to help us wrap up the current fiscal year and start the new one. [Click here to donate.]
I know you understand the value of our work. You know the raw human need for God in our world, and you know that need can be filled—really filled—nowhere other than in and through the Catholic Church.
I hope you will help us to keep filling that need by sharing the truth of the Catholic faith with the millions (yes, millions) of people who, each year, are touched by one or more of our projects.
I don’t want to have to pull back on any of our work, so I ask you to send us a special donation today.
Sincerely in Christ,
Karl Keating, President
P.S. The projects I listed in this letter don’t represent the full extent of our work, either current or planned, but I wanted to highlight six key means by which Catholic Answers, with your help, is helping countless people throughout the world.
Over time, as these projects mature, they tend to cover more and more of their own costs. Some day, I believe, Catholic Answers will end each fiscal year in the black, without need of special help. Until then, please assist us in covering the shortfalls.