In the Members' Forum of Catholica yesterday I broke a piece of Good News for the benefit of our forum members and I'd like to share that a little more widely today with you, our loyal subscibers. ...BMC, Editor
Some "Good News"...
Firstly let me be frank with you: there has been a distinct possibility that Catholica might not have returned this year because Milly and myself had nearly reached the bottom of the barrel in being able to fund the endeavour financially. Giving up the security of the remuneration that was paid into Milly's bank account every fortnight earlier last year in pursuit of more independence from the institution was a risky endeavour and we've had to do some serious soul-searching as to whether we continue with this endeavour or go engage ourselves in some other more financially productive endeavours.
Interestingly one of the things that has buoyed us as we've been considering our future was the unexpected generosity of the Catholica readership in our mini-appeal last November. That was a massive morale boost to us last November coming as unexpectedly as it did and unexpectedly more generous than we were anticipating. Mind you, in the bigger scheme of things, it was still small in terms of the overall amount of money we need to sustain and build an endeavour like this.
To cut to the chase: for ages now — like "since we started" in 2006 — it has also been my eventual hope to find some kind of philanthropic support to sustain Catholica in the long term. You will have read of my desires to set up some kind of foundation or trust that will "own" Catholica and provide a vehicle to sustain it in much the same way that most universities have "foundations" that have a big pile of money invested and the interest and income produced by those investments is what provides scholarships, helps endow various professorial chairs and pays for some of the research projects that go on in universities. A "foundation" is like a piggy bank to a university. Lots of religious orders, and almost all churches also have "trusts" or "foundations" that serve the same purpose.
What I want to quietly share with you is the news that at long last we think we are almost there — we have found someone interested in seriously supporting our endeavour and helping us get the ball rolling with a foundation. In my most recent search, which began about six months ago I've been contacting individuals on a one-to-one basis who might be wealthy enough to kick in donations in the realm of ten grand to get this started. I'm confident enough to be able to to write that we are now effectively there and so I hope we'll see the start of the next phase of Catholica over the next few months. As I wrote a few years ago now, my hope is that Catholica will eventually be "owned" in the legal sense equally by those who through their voluntary efforts helped us over these initial years and by those who will eventually be the ones who put the "cold hard cash" into this foundation. I honestly still don't know if this sort of structure has ever been used before and I still have much work to do with legal and accounting type people to figure those details out. That is my "dream" though.
Now to the "First and Second Collections", IPOs...
You've probably seen all the talk in the media over recent weeks of the massive amount of money that facebook is going to generate when it launches on the stockmarket in the near future. Fairfax Media have an excellent interactive presentation which gives you some of the facts about the facebook phenomenon. Click the graphic below or HERE to have a look.
It's never been part of my dream that there's enough interest in the esoteric ideas behind Catholica that one day we might become another facebook or Google. That's a bit like comparing the Catholic Church, or any religion for that matter, to a commercial enterprise like General Motors, Conzinc Riotinto, Microsoft or Apple Computer.
And talking about Microsoft and Apple, I saw a really good interview with Bill Gates the other day where he is talking about some of this stuff — philanthropy, building enterprises, undertaking works which can't be driven by the profit motive, his relationship with Steve Jobs and Apple and much more. Don't miss it. It's only four and half minutes long:
Bill Gates interviewed by Tim Lester for Fairfax Media
Now, back to the real business of this commentary...
Catholica simply would not be "catholic" if I didn't give you a little sermon about the first and second collections would it?
Let's start with the Second Collection...
That's essentially what I've just been writing about. The establishment of the Catholica Foundation (I'm actually not sure what the official name might eventually be so that will do for the moment.) Seriously, I think we are now "at the starting line" and over the next few months I'm confident we'll see it established and beginning to raise money, accept bequests and do all the sort of things that foundations do. None of that money will be used for the day-to-day running expenses of Catholica but will be invested and only the income generated by those investments will eventually be used to help fund and sustain Catholica. That in fact might not happen for perhaps ten years. Initially what income it generates might be re-invested in the foundation to help it grow faster.
What I'm basically trying to alert you to is the reality that we're about to become "more Catholic than the pope" and very shortly we WILL be running two collections at once: a First Collection — which in the past you have known as the Friends of Catholica 201X Appeal (the last one was the Friends of Catholica 2011 Appeal); and the Second Collection will be looking for bigger sums of money from people who've done well in life and who have the capacity to support not-for-profit endeavours and seeking to encourage the exploration of in the public domain.
We still need to sustain Catholica over the next few years while we are establishing this Foundation and I've been busy over the last 24 hours preparing to launch our on-going Friends of Catholica 2012 Appeal. When we started Catholica all the money we raised — and Amanda and myself tipped in a whole lot more — was used to cover our technical expenses and in advertising we paid for to promote Catholica. For the past year we have drawn a benefit at stipend levels — and thanks to one large generous benefactor — the Friends of Catholica 2011 Appeal paid for our trip to the American Catholic Council last year. In fact the benefits we've derived have been way, way below any stipend levels and in fact the money we have been earning elsewhere has basically gone to sustaining Catholica as well.
The interactive graphic I've prepared for you is not quite as sophisticated as the one about facebook I pointed out above but it's nearly as good and I'm pretty proud of it. I invite you to click on it as Milly and myself give you a short insight into our long terms objectives with Catholica; what our two major goals are this year; and invite your support of those objectives. When writing in the Member's Forum yesterday I was not sure what our target would be in how much money we'd like to raise. I now disclose that in the presentation below. Last year we set a target of $15,000 and we ended up raising over $20,000. This year instead of the Appeal funding us to go to America what we are considering as our "big project" is bringing John Chuchman to Australia to run a series of workshops around this country. I am hopeful that these workshops will also be the start of an ongoing opportunity for members, subscribers and supporters of Catholica to meet with one another in a more social setting at various places around our vast country.
Let me end with my heartfelt end line to each email we send out: wishing you a great day wherever you happen to be ... in life and in our world! Thanks for all your support that has enabled us to build Catholica to this point.
And if you've gotten this far and you still don't know what an IPO is you probably haven't been paying attention. An IPO is shorthand for an Initial Public Offering. That's the instrument Mark Zuckerberg and friends at Facebook are using to raise billions of dollars via the stockmarket. Mention is made in the interactive graphic above that this IPO will instantly lift over a thousand people into the realms of being able to call themselves millionaires.
Brian Coyne, 4 February 2012
Brian Coyne is the editor and publisher of Catholica.
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