February 26, 2019

Are you about to lose Downsize DC?

A personal message from Jim Babka…

Even though…

  • We delivered dramatic progress last summer, signing up 1,674 new subscribers in 90 days
  • We accumulated 28 new co-sponsors for the One Subject at a Time Act
  • Three of our amicus briefs had Supreme Court victories
  • We got a legislative victory when the President signed sentencing reform

…we’re out of funds.

Some groups “cry wolf” frequently. I’m on two email lists that do it. They consider it just another fundraising method. If you’re new, you might think Downsize DC is just another one of those groups. But…

The last time I sent a “wolf at the door” message was 2010. So what has changed? Why are we having to send a “wolf at the door” now? Let me tell you a story…

In 2015 some members of Congress implemented two separate message-blocking schemes. We had to respond to that with new software. We also needed to update our site for mobile use and social media. Taken together, these items were daunting.

We thought it would be wise to research various software services that sent letters to Congress. One seemed impressive. We began implementing it in late 2016, then…

We went straight to software hell! The system was supposed to be “turnkey.” It was NOT. And it didn’t make things easier that we had to do the installation on a shoestring. Building new user interfaces and implementing our new congressional contact software exceeded our budget, so it took longer than expected to complete.

A staggering eight months later (7/17), we had ONLY the first phase (letters to Congress) of our new Political Leverage Machine fully-installed.

In January 2018, we discovered new problems related to our outreach advertising. More time was invested in fixing those issues. With those troubles behind us…

We “cranked up the machine.” We recruited 1,674 new DC Downsizers over a three month period.

But getting these new DC Downsizers to mature into committed supporters took time that we didn’t have.

By September, Perry Willis and I were taking salary cuts and cutting team hours with increasingly severe results. I admire the dedication of the team we have. Also…

  • We slowed our advertising to a mere trickle.
  • We cut back on projects that would further improve the website.
  • We paused all projects that would add new features that would make you more powerful.

Despite those painful cost-cutting steps, we finished November with $185 in our general fund.

I considered sending you a message like this, back then. I looked at our projected income, largely based on our loyal monthly pledgers. I compared it with our accrual accounts payable ledger. Under the best scenario, the combination told me we’d be down by about $24,000 by now.

Still, we didn’t want to worry you. We had new progress coming! And there was still one other thing we could do…

We reached out to large donors. We even took on a distracting side project, just to pay the bills. These moves did raise some money. I’m pleased to say, DownsizeDC.org’s general fund is only down by -$4,675 as of this morning.

But that negative hole is going to keep getting deeper. And we’ve done all the cutting we can. Vendors who like us have cut their fees. One forgave three month’s billings. Another is working, outright, for free (for the time being). Despite all that, the projections are that DownsizeDC.org’s deficit will grow by $1,800 per month through June.

In the grand scheme of things, $11,875 is NOT a lot of money. So…

We must implement a two-step rescue plan.

First, we need your emergency help.

We must raise $8,000 as quickly as possible. We know that more than one person reading this can cover half of that, all of it, or one-quarter. Please know, if you do that, the odds we will succeed in raising the whole amount will skyrocket.

But we’d prefer it was 160 people, each doing what they can.

Contribute Now

Second, we must find a way to build reliable monthly support. Why?

Because we must never sink this much again! Even once every nine years is too much.

We must claw our way back to our old pledge levels. In our best month (historical), we had 762 people. Right now, we have just 175 pledgers. But we’re determined to get back and break the record. We’ll need a good start, right now, to do it.

We have several pledgers giving $2. Our largest pledge is $250. The average is $14+, upon which we base this projection…

We must add 26 new pledgers, ASAP. We’ll need more in the months to come, but that’s a sufficient START.

Plus, we’ll need some EXISTING pledgers, to bump up their pledge, so that we maintain our $14 average.


You might be surprised to learn, after reading this report, that we have significant hope. I don’t think this situation will be solved by just this one email message, so…

In the days to come, I intend to tell you why we can leap this temporary hurdle. We can and should return to days of growth and far greater accomplishment.

  • We have a plan to reintroduce and pass the One Subject at a Time Act.
  • Pressuring Congress has worked dozens of times in our history. It’s the biggest tactical lever available. Do you want to help us increase the amount of pressure we can exert?
  • Our strategic approach even changes law at the Supreme Court, as it did in Citizens United, Jones, and Carpenter cases. Do you want to see us continue?

Jim Babka, President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

If your comment is off-topic for this post, please email us at feedback@downsizedc.org


One Comment

  1. P. Bulten
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your honesty and forthright request. We work in an on again – off again type of business as well, so I can empathize with you. (This is one reason I hesitate to make a pledge. I don’t want to give my word then be unable to keep it, but I will discuss the issue with my husband.)

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