What the heck is The Lamp again?
The Lamp magazine began one year ago as a dream. Having an orthodox Catholic magazine that spoke to the full range of what the Church teaches, and did so with urbanity and wit in an attractive print format, seemed like a good idea, at least to us. But we knew that we would not be able to not count on support from the usual parties—massive foundations, corporate interests—that are usually willing to throw money at new projects of this kind. Instead we began with a small GoFundMe campaign that raised $21,000 thanks to the generosity of future readers.
Where did things go from there?
Since then we have established the non-profit Three Societies Foundation, hired a designer who we think has created the world’s most beautiful-looking print publication, solicited essays, articles, and reviews from the best writers and thinkers, and published two issues of a magazine that now has more than one thousand subscribers and appears gratis in seminaries and religious houses around the world. We have managed to do all of this so far with no paid staff members and a fraction of the budget available even to most small non-profit magazines.
What audience are you reaching?
A young and growing one! Our surveys suggest that our average subscriber is in his or her twenties or thirties, a demographic notoriously loath to spend money on magazines and one that existing Catholic publications are not reaching. We also offer complimentary subscriptions to seminarians and those living in vowed religious poverty.
I already subscribe, though, so what’s the deal here?
We continue to be humbled by the astonishing amount of interest shown by our subscribers in a magazine that costs (if we are being candid) slightly more than a subscription to Good Housekeeping and is certainly more expensive than online “content.” But the truth is subscriptions pretty much cover the cost of printing and mailing the magazine. (Speaking of which: before shipping the most recent issue, we quadrupled our postage costs in order to work around the recent Post Office delays.) All the other expenses associated with running a magazine have to come from somewhere else. For most glossy publications, this means corporate advertising or having a rich owner. We have neither. Instead, if we want to continue paying for our beautiful design and commissioning great writers (to say nothing of expanding into conferences or increasing the frequency of our publication or having non-volunteer staff members and interns), we must rely on the generosity of donors.
But what am I really investing in here? Where do you see this thing a few years from now?
Not long ago our editor told our publisher that he would be thrilled to have a thousand subscribers by the end of six issues. We ended up hitting that mark before issue two had arrived in mailboxes. But subscription revenue barely covers the cost of printing and mailing the magaazine.
So let’s talk about the future. This is not a pitch for you to fund lavish lifestyles or pay for office suites in one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets. It is a chance to help something that began as a pet project become the best Catholic periodical in the English-speaking world. Frankly speaking, most media nonprofits are run poorly. Money is wasted on enormous salaries for editors who farm out most of the real work of commissioning and editing to junior staffers, on overly frequent travel, and on real estate.
The Lamp is something different. We envision ourselves in a few years having a circulation comparable to that of other nonprofit magazines, three reasonably paid full-time staff members, a proper subscription fulfillment service (those people who are paid to answer the phone when you need to change your mailing address or renew!), the funds to support long-form reported articles, and eventually making the transition to monthly publication. We would also like to have a paid internship program in order to train the next generation of faithful Catholic journalists and to begin hosting conferences (complete with opportunities for confession, Mass, a group rosary, talks from our contributors, and memorable group conversations).
Is my gift tax-deductible?
You bet. That’s why we set up the Three Societies Foundation and why we are using this platform. We should add that we are inviting those who offer gifts of $2,000 or more to join the Leonine Circle, a group who will be recognized for their support on the back page of our last issue each year and take part in exclusive conversations about the magazine.
All of this sounds great. But what if I can’t donate?
Totally understandable. If you haven’t already, consider subscribing here. Or if you know of a seminarian or someone living in vowed religious poverty who might be interested in receiving a copy, send us his or her name at firstname.lastname@example.org. Prayers are more welcome than anything else!
The Feast of Saint Zephyrinus