Revolution #240, July 24, 2011
Some Questions for Our Readers
In May, we publicized an effort to raise $30,000 in 30 days, and to bring forward 100 new sustainers for this newspaper at the same time. The first goal was basically met. Thanks to those who donated, important new things can be done in publicizing BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. To help spread the lessons from, and build on, this advance we have posted a special online article "Some experiences and lessons of the 30-30+100 fundraising project" at revcom.us.
However, we did not fulfill the goal of 100 new sustainers for this newspaper. We need to understand the reason for this important shortcoming, in order to transform things and overcome it. But we need to figure this out together. So we are asking people who took up this struggle for sustainers to write to us. Over the next two weeks, we would like to get your answers to some of the questions we’re posing below. (Either give what you write to the person you regularly get the paper from or, if you don’t have a personal connection, write to us at our e-mail or address, taking care to protect the privacy of yourself and others when you do so. If you have trouble writing, ask the person who gives you your papers to help you, or to write down what you say.)
First, let’s look at what we did accomplish, and learn from that. In addition to raising over $30,000 in a month, over 30 new sustainers did step forward. So first off, we’d like to hear from you who are newly sustaining, and from those of you who’ve sustained this paper over the years, especially if you decided to raise the level of your sustainer. Why did you decide to sustain the paper? What does it mean to you that this paper can come out, and grow in its reach and influence? If you are someone who won new people to sustain in this past period, what did you learn from your discussions with these new sustainers? What reasons did people give you for sustaining? And, how many of those who committed to sustain the paper are subscribers, and what impact did that have on their decision?
Then let’s try to figure out why we fell short. Let us know how many people you approached to sustain. How many said yes? How many said no? What reasons did people give for sustaining... and for turning us down? And if you are someone reading this paper and were asked to sustain, and decided not to... how come?
So that’s one set of questions. Here’s a second set. Over the past few months, many new people have gotten acquainted with the movement for revolution and felt drawn to it, even as they may disagree on some important principles and positions of this movement. Did we take this to people who are just getting introduced to the movement for revolution? Did we take it to people whom we’ve known for a while and who may have some differences, even significant differences? If not, why not?
This leads us to another kind of question: HOW did we take this to people? Bob Avakian has written about the importance of going to people with the orientation that "we ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution and this is what that revolution will look like, and this is how everything we are doing is contributing to this revolution"—and then taking up questions in that context. (See BAsics 3:4, p. 74-75) Did we go over with people the paragraph in "On the Strategy for Revolution" that talks about what this paper is FOR, in the context of actually making revolution? One person suggested doing this, and bringing the last five or six issues of Revolution for people to page through. This would let people see how the paper, as a whole, fulfills this function, giving them a real feel for that... at the same time as it would enable them to see the scope of the paper and make a connection on different levels. So, did you use the statement on strategy? And if you didn’t, what did you use?
(It does seem as if the fundraising brochure that was supplied was helpful in meeting the other goals of the drive. Did we use this brochure in seeking sustainers, and if we did, was it helpful? Are there ways it could be better?)
Finally, our last question: having thought about all this, do you see new possibilities to go to people in the next month—before Labor Day—to win them to sustain? And how do you see this whole effort fitting into the campaign to make more broadly known, and to bring to people a much deeper sense, of "the revolution we need... and the leadership we have"?
So to sum up: if you are a new or old sustainer, why do you sustain the paper?
And for those who worked to win others to sustain:
- How many people did you ask? How many said yes, how many said no, and what were their reasons?
- Did you ask people who were newer to the revolutionary movement and/or people with significant differences, but also unity?
- How was sustaining presented to people? In particular, was it connected to what is said in "On the Strategy for Revolution"?
- Do you think, upon reflection, that there are new people who could be won to sustain in the next month?
You don’t have to answer every question. Nor do your answers have to be long in order for people to learn from them. Mainly, let us hear from you. Once we do, and analyze the results, we’ll write about the lessons and use them to provide further direction on filling what is a very crucial need for the revolution.
IMPORTANT: In order to protect people’s privacy, please do NOT give us actual names, either of yourself or the sustainers, or unnecessary details. For example, don’t say "Professor Jones at Simpson University who teaches biology"; say "a middle-aged biology professor at a large university." Or, instead of "a woman who runs the Head Start at the West Side Projects," say "a woman who runs a community service in a housing project."
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