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Critical: Year-End Campaign 2008

Fat Guy

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Dear eGullet Society Members, Supporters and Fellow Travelers,

As you may have read yesterday, the National Bureau of Economic Research has announced that the US economy has been in a recession since December of 2007. This recession has been unkind to many people, including too many of our members in the US and around the world. It has also been a difficult time, financially, for nonprofit organizations. This "nonprofit recession," as many are calling it, is unfortunate in that it deprives those who need help at the exact moment they most need it.

The eGullet Society had slowly been feeling the pinch all year, but with September's accelerated downturn the situation has become more acute. A number of donors looking to save discretionary income have chosen not to renew for the coming year, and new donors have become few and far between (in the past, we have always seen the latter number outstrip the former). Our operations are not immediately in jeopardy, however our scholarship program is.

Each year the Society has funded $20,000 in culinary arts scholarships. Each year we receive heartfelt notes of thanks from the students, writers and cooks who, thanks to the eG Scholarships program, were able to pursue educational and research opportunities that would have been unavailable to them without a grant. In order to continue to award scholarships at a time when people most need the help, we are going to need to raise substantially more money in the coming year than we have in the past year.

We are beginning our year-end fundraising drive and hope to raise $10,000 by the end of December -- $5,000 to underwrite a scholarship and $5,000 to fund the Society's operations. Those of you who are active, participating members can expect to be contacted personally by a member of our volunteer team. But you don't have to wait to donate, nor do you have to be a member.

I urge you to pause for a moment to consider, if you have not already, how the Society finances its work. An organization of this scale cannot operate without money. Though we have a large and wonderful team of volunteers and very low overhead, every month in order to provide our community with its online home we have Web hosting and other operations expenses, and our scholarship program requires large cash outlays. Our "business model" is similar to that of PBS or NPR: we "broadcast" for free to anybody who wishes to tune in to our channel. We feel it is very important to keep basic participating membership free. At the same time, we depend on a percentage of our members to make voluntary donations of $50, $100 or $250 per year. Without a sufficient portion of our members making voluntary donations, we could not function. Member donations are our largest source of revenue, supplemented by a few smaller revenue streams such as institutional sponsorships and merchandise sales.

To support the eGullet Society at the $50, $100 or $250 per year level, please sign up for a Society donor membership (note: you must already be an eGullet Society member in order to upgrade to a Society donor membership; if you are not a member please join). Society donor members receive, depending on which package they select, increased personal messenger storage allotments; increased ImageGullet storage; additional features, including personal messenger with carbon copy and attachments, unlimited searching without flood control, and priority access to new features upon release; exclusive gift items; and most importantly the knowledge that they are supporting the eG Scholarships and other program services of the eGullet Society. For higher levels of support, please contact me directly: sshaw@eGullet.org or 212.828.0133.

All donations are tax deductible to the full extent of US law. If your employer has a charitable-gift matching program we can help you with that paperwork.

There are many other ways you can help as well: host a Chinese New Year fundraising dinner at the end of January, purchase your holiday gifts through our Amazon.com commission links, or become a Society volunteer. Here's a list of ten ways you can help.

With relish,

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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