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August 27, 2008

Congress Is Coming Back Soon

Quote of the Day:
“I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don’t know what to feed it.”
— anonymous

Subject: Congress is Coming Back Soon

Congress will return to work when the party conventions end. It will be a brief session before they adjourn again to campaign. Short sessions are often full of hi-jinks. Will we be ready to resist?

I’m not sure.

We launched a new website last month. We had to. Congress has made it harder and harder for their constituents to communicate with them through sites like ours. Our new website was designed to make it easier for us to hurdle these barriers. But complex new systems always have problems . . .

Our new site didn’t work for many users. People got frustrated, including us. We identified the likely cause of the problem and took steps to fix it, but that took time. Now, we think we’re done.

Today, our “beta testers” have been called back into action. If they find the website is working ok, we’ll re-launch it tomorrow.

But this month feels lost. And it’s not just a feeling. We made the decision to send fewer Dispatches because people were having problems with the site. We want users to have a good experience. Besides, Congress was out of session. The good news is that we’ve registered more people this month than the last two Augusts (’06 & ’07). But the bad new is we’re significantly behind in the number of Messages to Congress.

On top of that, August has always been our worst month for fundraising. And when we don’t send Dispatches we don’t raise money, so this August has been worse than usual. We’ve raised only about half of our monthly budget need. But it gets worse. There were three pay periods this month. Our staff is tiny, but that third pay period packs a punch given our current situation. 

We’ve made it a policy to always share our problems with you, not just our successes. We consider you a part of our team. Of course, not everyone sees it that way. A couple of years ago, when I wrote a message even more desperate than this one, a pledger wrote to say: “You can’t give people bad news. You can’t expect them to care about your problems. You need to give them something to be excited about.”

I think we’ve done that all year. But there are always bumps on any journey, and I believe, as a matter of policy, in sharing those with you too. 

Now, you’ll be pleased to learn that we planned ahead, and that despite all of these challenges, we’re not in life threatening financial trouble. We had a reserve fund. But some progress will be lost if we don’t get closer to making our monthly budget. Our monthly budget is very modest — just $15,500. As of right now, we’ve raised only $8,500 of it. And the month ends in four-and-a-half days, with a holiday weekend.

Some of you are doing well, even while the overall economy is struggling. If that describes you, could you pick up the slack and help the Downsize DC Army move forward? 

The most important thing you can do is make or increase your monthly pledge. This sets us up for an even better future. And most people can afford a micro-pledge of $3, $5, or $8. But we need some others to step up with pledges of $15, $25, and $35 as well. 

Or you can make a one-time donation. Again, any amount will help! But we really could use a $1,000 or $2,000 donation right now. 

Please help us continue what has otherwise been an excellent year full of progress. Please make sure we’re ready and raring to go when Congress returns.

You can contribute on the secure form at

Thank you for your support and thank you for being a DC Downsizer,

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

P.S. If tax-deductibility is important to you, please make your donation to our sister group, the Downsize DC Foundation.

And if you’re dropping us a check, you can print out the form or just simply send the check to…1931 15th St.  Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223. Please hit Reply, and send us a message if you’re mailing a check so that we know it’s coming and can plan ahead.

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