Voice of the Faithful’s financial crisis

What do you call an organization that spends nearly a third of its income just on raising that money in the first place? While I blogged about Voice of the Faithful’s ongoing membership and financial difficulties recently, a Catholic News Service article highlights some of the eyebrow-raising financial details.

Until 2006, the group reported relatively stable levels of contributions of around $600,000 each year. It rose to $661,774 for the year ending May 31, 2006.

Gifts to the group for the seven-month period from June to December 2006, the last period posted on the Internet, totaled $333,438.

During the past five years, Voice of the Faithful has spent rising amounts to solicit contributions. It reported $64,224 in fundraising expenses in 2003, $111,089 for 2004, $151,549 for 2005 and $143,603 in 2006.

It reported $133,261 in development expenses for the first seven months of its current fiscal year.

The Better Business Bureau’s guidelines on charitable giving state that no more than 35% of contributions should be spent on fundraising. For the first seven months of VOTF’s fiscal year 2007 (ending this week), the total was 39 percent. Not only that, but the total cost of development expenses is on track to be nearly double that of the previous year.

This is not a sign of a healthy organization. They are without a permanent executive director, they’ve laid off the two part-time office workers in their headquarters, and they’re facing a $100,000 budget deficit. As a national organization, VOTF is on the brink of collapse. Good riddance, I say.

While many individuals might have had noble intentions when joining the group in 2002, it quickly became apparent that the leadership had other ideas in mind. Almost from the beginning, it was clear to me and others that VOTF was just a pretty face on the same, old Call to Action heterodoxies and the only reason they lasted as long as they did was because certain media organizations held them up as the “faithful opposition” whenever writing about the troubles in the Church.

VOTF may go on as a shadow for some time, but it’s death knell has been sounded. Right about on track for what I originally predicted.

N.B.: I went back into my ancient archives and found this blog entry from October 3, 2002 in which I analyzed an email from one of the VOTF leaders on how the group should grow. He was predicting that in four years it would have 10 million members! On the other hand, I said that if they were still around in 2006, I’d be surprised. Not far off.

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