A Common Misimpression

Reader response to last month’s Open Letter has been very heartening. A great many of you have written to us, and an even greater number have sent first-time or additional financial contributions to help us weather the effects of the deep economic recession that has affected us all. Thank you very much! We need this kind of support to help us get through this particularly challenging period. This column is being written in early December; I will give a report to you in next month’s issue, after end-of-calendar-year giving has been completed, one of the important income milestones in our fiscal year.

We’ve been very encouraged by messages from newer and seasoned Friends, telling us how important the ministry of FRIENDS JOURNAL is to them, and strongly discouraging us from laying it down. "I would feel destitute and deprived without my copy of FRIENDS JOURNAL," wrote one. "As a newish Quaker, I depend on it to enrich my understanding of Quaker ideas and Quaker people." Another wrote, "When my children were little your monthly magazine was my meeting for worship, since I rarely got to sit in meeting for worship because of their needs. I was aghast to see that you are even thinking of laying down FRIENDS JOURNAL." "I have been reading the JOURNAL for 50 years at least," shared a 95-yearold Friend. "I have seen it in many manifestations. These last several years have been most meaningful to me. Am impressed with the quality of the articles, and the wider reader audience you are reaching. This is not the time to lay the JOURNAL down!"

Thank you all for your comments and encouragement. If you felt led to write to us but didn’t, please know we’d be pleased to hear from you. The messages we’ve been receiving are quite candid, many contain very specific advice, and all are obviously motivated by a desire to help us know how best to serve the Quaker community. All reader responses have been and will continue to be passed on to the relevant staff and Board members for further discussion during this difficult decision-making period.

One recurring comment has shown me that I need to clarify the effect of increasing our circulation—that is, the concern that if each subscription costs more to produce than the subscription price we charge, then adding subscriptions must worsen our situation. This is not true. Yes, it is true that each new subscription entails additional paper, printing, mailing, and postage costs. But those costs are more than covered by the price of that new subscription. Our greatest expense by far is our modestly compensated staff, whom we must pay whether we produce just one copy of the JOURNAL each month or 500,000 copies. Using the full-time equivalent of only 9.64 people, we do all the editorial, design, circulation, ad sales, fundraising, business management, and supervision of our 14 volunteers and up to 15 unpaid interns each year. The greater the number of subscriptions, the lower the actual cost per subscription. So yes, Friends, additional subscriptions help our bottom line. As do gift subscriptions. We make ends meet by having multiple income streams. The big problem for the past two years has been the lack of investment income. Increased donations and subscriptions at this time can help us to bridge the gap. Please do encourage your meeting or members of your meeting to subscribe. Since the JOURNAL truly is a ministry of Friends to Friends, the more folks reading, discussing, and writing, the better the magazine, and the better for all of us!