From the June, 2009 issue of Touchstone

Mere Economics by James M. Kushiner

Mere Economics

The Dollars & Sense of Publishing

Whether you are a relatively recent subscriber or have been reading Touchstone for many years, you may not know that Touchstone, which began in 1986 as a quarterly newsletter, was published on a shoestring for its first eleven years. In 1997, when funds had nearly run out, a generous family stepped forward and began underwriting Touchstone to the point where it could be published more often: six times a year at first, and eventually, ten times per year.

The support of this devout Christian family over the past twelve years has been nothing short of astonishing. I have told many individuals how generous this family has been and also how they asked for nothing in return—giving their support with no strings attached. Their contributions have totaled over 4 million dollars over the years—this will give readers some idea of how important they have been. During this period, Touchstone has become an award-winning journal and much more widely read and appreciated.

This family’s plan had always been to gradually decrease their donation level as Touchstone deepened and broadened its base of support among others. Julie Grisolano, our development director, has been working hard on that, and over the last several years our donations from other sources have dramatically increased, even to the point of surpassing, in sum, that of our benefactor family.

But the recent economic losses suffered by most institutions and foundations have made it imperative that this family cut its financial support of Touchstone for the foreseeable future. This means the immediate loss of $200,000, which is, as you can imagine, very hard for us (and for the family). But it could have been much worse.

Had this happened just a few years ago, we would probably have had to cease publication. But because our donor base has been growing—we have even more donors this year than last—we might be able to make up enough (that is, half) of this loss to continue publishing Touchstone—but only if we also make additional strategic cuts, the most important of which is to return to publishing Touchstone as a bimonthly journal, that is, six times a year. (All subscribers will still receive the number of issues they paid for.)

Now, it may be that some individuals might be able to fund Touchstone as a monthly again at some point. We leave that to the Providence of God, who knows the needs of each one of us. Meanwhile, we also will continue to look for new opportunities to broaden Touchstone’s reach and to gain new subscribers.

Despite the difficulties, I am encouraged about the prospects for Touchstone. Why? Because the need for magazines like Touchstone is greater, not less, than ever before. This will be tested in the marketplace, of course, as will my belief that the value of the ministry at which we labor will attract the growing support of others. So far, we are very encouraged by recent offers of help and collaboration from various publishers and academic institutions, through ad exchanges, free publicity, flyer and sample issue distribution, and the like. If you can help in any way, we should talk soon. (You can email me at jmk@fsj.org.)

The growth in the number of our supporters even during this economic crisis confirms my belief that readers who appreciate and depend on the spiritual substance they find in the pages of Touchstone will continue to support the ministry beyond the regular subscription price. No one knows the future, including what the economic situation will be, of course, yet we remain trusting in the Lord’s will and provision for this ministry.

All of us at Touchstone thank the many generous benefactors who have supported us over the years—some for twenty years. This year, we will need our readers’ increased support more than ever to continue publishing.

One further way you can help us grow, besides your financial support, encouragement, and ideas, is to spread the word about Touchstone. Please write Julie at grisolano@fsj.org for free samples. Share them with your friends, neighbors, and anyone you know who may be longing for the fellowship of those who still chant the 2,000-year-old hymn of Christ the Lord and Savior with passion and a willingness to stand firm, no matter what the cost.

— James M. Kushiner

James M. Kushiner is the Executive Editor of Touchstone.

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