September 7, 2006
What we did this Summer
By Jim Babka
It's a time honored tradition. Summer ends, school begins, and teachers ask students to write an essay about what they did during their Summer vacations. My "summer vacation" essay follows, only we didn't take a vacation this Summer. Instead, we made progress! Here's a slightly altered version of something I recently sent to our Board of Directors . . .

We usually have two bad periods -- the year-end Holidays and Summer. But this Summer was different. To be honest, we did fall short of our $14,000-per-month funding need twice -- by $6,000 in June, and $5,500 in July. But we made our target in August! And . . .

That's never happened before!

We take it as a sign that we're getting closer and closer to take-off. During August, we just tightened our belt, cut staff hours and salaries, and kept right on pushing ahead, finding ways to work smarter even when we couldn't afford to work longer.

Most organizations wouldn't share the behind-the-scenes logistical stuff that really makes an organization go, but we take a different view. We want DC Downsizers to take a long journey with us, so we thinks its important to sometimes let you know a little bit about the engine that will carry us there.

We're also big believers in Napoleon's dictum that "An army marches on its stomach" -- by which he meant that logistics are just as important as strategy and tactics. So . . .

We implemented a new credit card processing system in early June. This automated much of our credit card processing and made our latest innovation, mirco-pledges, possible. Micro-pledges, in turn, have fueled a 220% increase in our base of monthly support. On June 1 we barely had 1/7th of our monthly budget secured via via pledges. But by September 1 we had almost 1/3rd so-secured.

Our email list is also at a record size -- 22,600+. It's grown by almost 1,000 since June 1. We've also registered more than 900 new DC Downsizers this Summer, bringing that total number up to 13,733.

We've now generated more than 375,000 messages to Congress since our July, 2004 launch, including more than 50,000 messages during these "slow" Summer months. Here's a look at our totals for the individual campaigns you see on our home page (as of August 31st) . . .

Downsize DC Agenda . . .
Read the Bills - 48,159 messages
Write the Laws - 2,628 messages

Current Events . . .
Stop the War FOR Terror - 2,367 messages
No Warrant? No Search - 8,007 messages
Depose the Drug Czar! - 3,381 messages
Debate Iraq - 5,862 messages
Repeal the REAL ID Act - 32,124 messages
No NAIS - 15,024 messages
M3 ("Basement Counterfeiting") - 12,546 messages
Don't Let the People Decide Act - 9,648 messages
Stop FDA Censorship - 8,337 messages
Don't let Congress hide - 14,664 messages
Sacrifice the Pig - 4,983 messages
Politicians want you to snitch - 17,151 messages
First Amendment Restoration Act - 11,538 messages

I stayed busy with interviews as well, doing more than a dozen. And other websites and blogs are linking to us using banner ads on their home pages. We're aware of nine of these sites and blogs.

We also launched our new Delegate Party strategy in June, building to the day we can announce a "No Legislation Without Representation Conference" (near Capitol Hill) along with a Congressional Invasion. Ten groups have formed. 36 people have signed up to keep informed of the activities of these groups. Fifteen parties have occurred so far. And 40 more people are "orphans," waiting for a group to start in their area.

This Fall should be even better. A new database is nearly done, we just launched a new and improved email distribution system, and a full redesign of the website is now nearly half-complete. We'll also be upgrading and moving the blog, turning it into a traffic magnet. All of these changes will make our system easier for Downsizers to use, and make our lives far less complicated. These are huge steps.

And the biggest news of all is that we're going to launch the largest, most innovative, development initiative in our history. This will finish-off our base level fundraising need. Beyond that lies Operation Everywhere and a perpetual expansion in our visibility, growth, and influence over Congress.

What else can I say? Well, here's how I finished the report to the Board: "The mood is good. We get more fan mail with each passing month. Perry Willis, who presided over a time of tremendous growth for a previous employer says the same thing happened there right before that organization took-off. Fan mail is a strong early indicator. And the quality of this mail is tremendous. People really seem to get what we're doing."

If you like the progress we made during the "slow" Summer months, and would like us to have an even better Fall, please consider starting a monthly credit card pledge of $3, $4, $5, $6, $7, $8, $9 or more, or making a one-time gift. You can do so here.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.
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