April 23, 2010
Downsize DC may soon be in trouble
By Jim Babka

I've always been candid with you about our situation, our thought process, and our strategies, as well as the lessons we've learned, even when our experiments have failed. Well . . .

Downsize DC may soon be in trouble. This Dispatch explains why.

Many organizations raise money in ways we avoid. For instance . . .

They try to spark fear: They tell you to send money now or the Republic will fall.

They demonize personalities: They tell you that some political figure they know you don't like is more evil than Lucifer, and that only your donation can stop these terrible people from torturing babies and cancelling the 4th of July.

Amazingly, these techniques work. One member of our team once heard the CEO of another organization claim that saying something nasty about Hillary Clinton was enough to make the checks flood into his office. But . . .

We can't use either of these approaches. It's not who we are. Instead, we tell you about our strategy, as well as specific projects we want to attempt. We specifically reject emotional manipulation, and try to sell reason and hope instead.

Have you noticed?

Does it matter to you?

Many organizations also spend . . .

* Millions on direct mail
* Hundreds of thousands on events
* And huge amounts of time travelling around the country meeting with donors

But has done little of this. Instead, we've tried to use the Internet to avoid spending money to raise money, in the hope that we could focus your donations on the work that you want done. However . . .

As with most things involving money and the Internet, it hasn't really worked.

Yes, we've managed to survive, until now, but despite constantly growing, and having success and influence . . .

Our funding has gone down a little with each passing year.

This is not what we would have expected. 

We would have expected that our constantly growing list of supporters, and our constantly expanding influence, would have been rewarded with constantly expanding financial resources. Instead, the reverse has been true!

As a result, many projects that could have made us grow very rapidly have remained undone.

How should we react to this?

We think there's only one possible reaction. We must submit to reality. And the reality is this . . .

We're probably not going to make it as an organization funded mostly through the Internet.

This means that we're going to have to go back to some of the old ways of fundraising -- the ways that spend money to raise money. We're going to start sending out fundraising letters. It's a simple fact . . .

Even though they cost a lot, printed direct mail letters also raise a lot (or at least it used to -- see below). Please take note . . .

We don't think it's our fault that we're having to do this. After all . . .

We've TRIED for FIVE YEARS to NOT do it, delivering success, and growth, and influence, but getting diminishing revenues in return.

This just seems to be the way things work in the Internet Age.

Expensive, wasteful things like printed fundraising letters have a long track record of being able to pay the bills, while free email pitches like this one don't. But . . .

Even though our first fundraising letter in years goes out in a few days, it's been so long since we've done one that we can't really be sure that direct mail fundraising still works the way it once did. After all, this is the Internet Age, and a whole lot of things have changed in the last several years.

So . . . may soon be in trouble.

Our online fundraising has been in decline for a long time. Yet for the last several months, we've been investing a hefty chunk of our "capital reserves" in behind-the-scenes software projects designed to provide YOU with some powerful new online tools that will cause us to GROW FASTER. Our hope has been that doing this might also earn us some more financial support sometime in the future. But . . .

We may not have enough fuel in our tank to find out. Which brings me to my final point . . .

There's one other technique organizations use to raise money. It's called "the wolf at the door appeal." This is where the organization tells its supporters to send money or it will have to suspend certain projects, or perhaps even close its doors. We have NOT done such an appeal in several years. But we are now very close to needing one, depending on . . .

How you respond to this message. So, please consider this as a prelude to a "wolf at the door appeal." I need lots of contributions to this message, or . . .

I will have to really beg for support next week in order to avoid announcing spending cuts. And, if our direct mail letter doesn't work, things could get worse than that. Downsize DC could really be in trouble. The wolf really could be at the door. I hope I'm not wasting my time here . . .

If you want us to keep doing what we're doing, and add more things on top of it, please make a generous contribution.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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