Financial Philosophy

How We Think About These Things

Our Revenue Model

We are trying to operate the most transparent network of think tanks, advocacy groups, and media outlets in the world. We are also trying to represent the interests of the broad working public, rather than the interests of the very wealthy elite who normally fund these projects. Most nonprofit groups have to rely on funding from the government, grants from major foundations like the Gates Foundation, or patronage from a handful of very wealthy donors. Make no mistake, philanthropy and charity are good! If you are reading this, and a billionaire, and want to fund a broad social movement against your own class interests, then God Bless you and you should give us your money. But for the work that we do, the standard funding models come with significant downsides:

  • If 100% of your budget comes from 1 funder, and they get hit by a bus, you lose everything

  • A small group of powerful funders would have a greater chance to change the mission and culture of our organization, rather than a very large group of small funders

Instead, our goal is to actively build up a supporter base from normal people, who can give recurring monthly donations between $3 and $10 a month.

What do we spend money on?

In most organizations, the largest operating expense is employee salaries and benefits. In the richest country in the world, legal labor is relatively expensive. Most organizations have to cover their employee salaries first, and then additional program expenses afterwards. This requires a heavier fundraising presence, which requires orgs to hire dedicated fundraising personnel, who also need salaries, which requires heavier fundraising - and so it goes.

CSA gets around some of these issues by not having any staff or employees. Everyone involved has another day job and works as a volunteer.

To date, our expenses have been a few hundred dollars for website domains, hosting, printing of physical letters, ordering backup masks to supply for our marchers, a few hours from a graphic designer to format the Open Letter, and software subscriptions to CMS apps. These expenses have been covered ad hoc from the founders’ personal funds.

Going forward, we expect our spending to go into two large buckets:

  • Doing our stuff: creating content and other forms of propaganda, organizing events, protest materials, lobbying efforts, etc

  • Telling people about our stuff: advertising and marketing

How do we measure success?

Open secret: most social organizations are not effective at achieving their goals! For more smart thinking on that topic, read this manifesto from GiveWell.

Our commitment is to be, dollar for dollar, the most effective Catholic advocacy network. This is going to require an enormous amount of work. How does one, for example, properly measure the cost-effectiveness of various interventions designed to increase vocations, or to increase the % of lay Catholics who vote in accordance with CST?

Much of our mid-term roadmap is dedicated to building an apparatus that will let us show with precision that we are acting strategically. This is the impetus, for example, behind our Catholic Action Map – to understand the current lay of the land.

In addition, we are committed to reaching milestones like the Guidestar Platinum Seal of Transparency and a GiveWell-Level Cost-Effectiveness Analysis as soon as possible.

Let's get to work. Will you help us?

You are in fact made in the image of God, and can act with virtue in these turbulent times.