Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

thinking about the calendar that might be

Terry and I have talked about a possible calendar many times. She would love to do one, but the big problem with calendars is cost.

Calendars are not anywhere near cheap to print out. Ignore the time it takes to get the pictures, do the post processing, sort through them, make decisions, etc, and just look at the cost of having them printed, and they’re expensive. Generally between $12 and $15 each! Depending on many factors, but especially on how many you print at once.

It sort of stumps me, because when you start adding in postage, and then think about what people will actually pay for a calendar, you’re looking at potentially losing money.

I was checking out the price of calendars at the bookstore the other day, and they all seemed to be $15.95. And, as Terry has said, “those are by professional photographers!” Terry’s not sure that visitors to the sanctuary would pay even $15 for a calendar.

There are other potential benefits to having some calendars printed, even if they seem pretty hopeless as a fundraiser – primarily, outreach. Though would it actually work?

I’m feeling hopelessly cynical tonight!




21 responses to “thinking about the calendar that might be

  1. kelly g. November 6, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Maybe you could offer it up as a “free gift” in return for a certain donation amount, as opposed to an item for sale? If donors feel like they’re getting something “for free,” they might be willing to “spend” a little more on it.

    I’m pretty sure that’s where I got my Farm Sanctuary calendar, as a freebie after donating. πŸ™‚

  2. Kelvin Kao November 6, 2008 at 2:17 am

    Well, the more commercial ones print in huge batches. You simply can’t compete with that in terms of price. I like kelly’s idea.

  3. haldana November 6, 2008 at 5:17 am

    Could it even be something less date-sensitive than a calendar? Then it could be used for longer than one year (which I know I’d personally think was even more useful), and maybe you’d feel more empowered to make and distribute it if you weren’t stuck under a timeline.

  4. Shana November 6, 2008 at 10:26 am

    I personally don’t like the idea of a gift with my donation. Whenever I donate to HSUS and they send me senseless little gifts all year it makes me wonder if I’m buying coffee mugs and keychains or if any of my money is ever going to the animals!

    By the way, I know everyone is very busy, but I e-mailed Terry to see how Harley was and never heard back.

  5. nothoney November 6, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Why not try CafePress? You can create a simple calendar, I looked it up. The base price for a wall calendar is $14.99, though, so you add your “profit” amount to that base price. Thing is, you’re not printing them in advance, they’re only printed as people order them.

    You can also create nice, canvas shopping bags which I find far more useful than a calendar (’cause I get about four of them in the mail every year from NGOs that I donate to monthly).

    Just my .02, YMMV.


  6. kelly g. November 6, 2008 at 11:49 am

    I personally don’t like the idea of a gift with my donation.

    Some non-profits also offer the option of opting out of the free gift. If it’s something I’ll never use, I’ll forgo the freebie.

  7. Deb November 6, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    @ Kelly, isn’t the Farm Sanctuary calendar on magazine-type paper? I think it used to be, anyway. It is something to think about, though I imagine it causing extra work for Terry, and that’s the last thing I want to do!

    @ Kelvin, you’re right, they can price it that low and still make a profit because they’re printing in such huge bulk amounts. The problem (for me) is that it does create an expectation in people’s minds, in terms of what price they can expect to pay for a calendar!

    @ haldana, that’s a really good point. I’ve thought about doing a book through blurb or lulu (self-publishing companies, and they have decent photobook layouts) but I haven’t really done anything with that idea. It might appeal to people more than a calendar. I’ll have to think more about this! Thanks for bringing that up! I know that I want a calendar for myself, if nothing else, but the book (or something similar) might be a better idea overall for potential fundraising and outreach.

    @ Shana, that’s a good point. I know that I get calendars in the mail sometimes, and they almost always end up in the recycle bin around march. And then there is the issue about the cost of the calendar taking away from the money that was just donated for the animals. I have mixed feelings about that – if it gets the animals in the minds of more people, maybe helping them move towards veganism, then it isn’t really money that is being taken away from the animals in a bigger sense…but does it work as outreach? I’m not sure!

    I’ll remind Terry when I see her on Saturday to email you back! Harley is doing great though. πŸ™‚

    @ Sheryl, granted it has been a year since I looked into the various online self-pub places, but cafepress was not one of my favorite options. They’re not very flexible, and they’re definitely not the least expensive! I was fairly happy with lulu, and they’re a lot more flexible. There are always new companies starting, so I’ll look into some of the new kids on the block, because lulu wasn’t quite flexible enough for me to be perfectly happy with them.

    I’ll have to think about the cloth shopping bag idea. There are some companies that use organic cotton, and the prices didn’t look horrible, so I’ll think about it more.

    @ kelly, good point about the opt-out. It is sounding very complicated though!

  8. Mary Martin November 6, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    I say someone donates the money for the cost of the calendars so all of the proceeds go to the sanctuary and you’re not worried about recouping costs so you can charge whatever you want. I think you saw our family’s calendar, which was quite amateurish but had great paper and 13 months of photos. It was about $20.00, but that was due to the small quantity (I think 15) printed at my local Sir Speedy. So large quantities are key. Little vegan messages on each month, with your amazing photos, would be a great gift for the holidays!

    Now, whether we all have too many calendars is another story. But it’s such a great way to get the message out!

  9. Deb November 6, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Mary, I’ve thought about that, but then I end up feeling guilty somehow – like if someone has money to donate for a calendar printing, wouldn’t it be better if they just donated straight to the animals? (Not to mention, I don’t actually know anyone who could donate the cost of the calendars!)

    There is a local print shop that the sanctuary works with regularly, which gives them good prices. It would require the calendar to be in quark format, which then requires me to get Rich to help out with that. It would allow a lot more flexibility, we could have a final page (or more if we wanted) with info on the sanctuary, which is something that the Lulu calendar didn’t have the flexibility for. (at least it didn’t when I was giving it a try) So it does make more sense in a lot of ways.

    A lot of things I still don’t know about how it would work out, but I think I’ll spend some time this weekend coming up with the pictures I’d like to use, and the vegan message for each. At the very least, I’ll be able to get a calendar for myself from the effort!

    I thought your family calendar was great! Maybe because there was so much Dave in it. πŸ˜€

  10. kelly g. November 6, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    @ Kelly, isn’t the Farm Sanctuary calendar on magazine-type paper?

    Yeah, it’s a rather thin, 8×10-ish magazine-type paper. Definitely not the same quality I’d expect from a store-bought, professional calendar, but it’s cute and has held up.

  11. Kelvin Kao November 7, 2008 at 1:59 am

    Yeah, same thing with handmade art products. People are so used to cheap mass produced items that they only value materials and not labor. That’s just the way it is… and that also means your product would need to stand out in other ways, because price is not your edge.

  12. Deb November 7, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    @ kelly, thanks! I think it does explain how they can give them away, though I haven’t actually seen anywhere I could get them printed on that kind of paper. I want a nicer-paper calendar for myself, so that’s what I’m going to focus on first, and we’ll see what happens after that!

    @ Kelvin, very true. My dad is into woodworking, and he always says that just buying the wood is more expensive than buying pre-made furniture at a store.

  13. Mary Martin November 8, 2008 at 10:23 am

    How about this: Is part of the mission advocacy/outreach? Two of the boards I chair just approved using $30,000 of advocacy money for the documentary we’re doing (the funding fell through and we have to raise $$$). If there is money spend on advocacy–real or hopeful–you can raise it for the calendar and be well-within the scope of the work for the animals. Think about PPS and how they reach people through their materials and ads (and get donors to fund them). Some people actually WANT to spend their dollars on advocacy for their own reasons.

    I’ll shut up now.

  14. haldana November 8, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    How about postcards or some sort of greeting card? Puns about the animals or the farm? I’m still trying to think of ways to move away from the date-sensitive thing, but maybe I’m overthinking it πŸ™‚

  15. Deb November 8, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    @ Mary, yes, part of the mission is definitely advocacy/outreach. At PS, because they’re so close to DC as well as Baltimore, more of the outreach ends up being bringing people to the sanctuary (either for events or tours), as compared to PPS, which primarily uses magazine ads, newspaper ads, billboards, and literature for advocacy. (at least that’s how it was when I knew more of what they were up to, when I lived in the Denver area.) PS has never focused as much on their print outreach as PPS does.

    Something I should probably make clear – I’m not involved with PS on other than a volunteer basis, so I don’t know anything more than the absolute basics of their operation from the money standpoint. The calendar idea is something that I’m interested in doing, Terry has been interested in having, but whether they have a donor who would be interested in funding advocacy or how much of their budget they spend on outreach, and whether this is something they’d want to use as outreach, that’s where I really don’t know anything.

    This is the kind of thing I’m completely clueless on, and which you know an absolute ton on, Mary, so don’t shut up on my account!

    @ haldana – they do sell postcards and greeting cards at the gift shop at the sanctuary, and I think they are pretty popular. I think that there are sort of two (at the minimum) ideas going on at this point. See, I am going to do a calendar for myself, no matter what! I want a calendar. πŸ™‚

    And a calendar for 2009 needs to be done as soon as possible. I should have started it long ago (I’ve been mostly intending to do one all year, so this is just me procrastinating) in order for it to be done in a reasonable amount of time to be used for anything on a bigger scale – the biggest event at the sanctuary has come and gone, and the thanksgiving event is in just 2 weeks, so even that is likely to be too soon to put up a calendar for sale with the print times, etc, to consider.

    But if I get a calendar done for myself using something like lulu, I can make it available as print-on-demand for others to order. It is low-risk and aside from setting up the initial calendar, I don’t need to do anything at all!

    And I can also get in gear for a calendar in time for next year’s big events.

    As for ideas that are not date-sensitive, I would love to do that as well. A photo-book, maybe, and postcards are good ideas. Sheryl mentioned a tote, which is worth looking into as well. I just want to get a calendar done first, and then start thinking about what else could be done! So don’t stop thinking about these kinds of ideas! It is definitely something I want to do in addition to a calendar.

  16. Mary Martin November 10, 2008 at 9:41 am

    There should be some kind of annual report. If you donate any money (or even if you’re a prospective donor), you should be given access to basic financials (like what part of the budget is for advocacy. I say just ask her. And some people respond much more positively when they see you’ve made progress (as you have), so maybe she will experience a shift when you have a sample and because you’re asking for specifics (like the budget stuff). I know you’re going to love this, but I suggest asking to be on the board or the advisory council. Sometimes people in the trenches are so concerned with the day to day program activity (i.e., keeping everyone alive and fed) that they frankly rarely think about anything else. That’s where volunteers such as board and advisory people come in handy. They’re thinking about sustainability, advocacy, outreach and capacity (it’s their job–it really shouldn’t be Terry’s. I’m thinking she’s got enough to do).

    Oui? No? Overwhelming? Bad ideas? Overwhelmingly bad ideas?

  17. Deb November 10, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Shoot, all I wanted to do was print out a calendar! lol.

    This is good stuff, Mary, and the kind of thing that I would never have thought of. I know that there is a board of some kind, though that is as far as my knowledge goes. It can’t hurt to ask, though I can’t really imagine having anything to contribute to a board!

  18. Mary Martin November 11, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    You’re actually perfect for a board as you’d bring a necessary perspective about the sanctuary, the animals, the movement and the people who visit. And you’re not there every day so you’re removed, and that helps with perspective, as well. Not to mention yours is a voice that tells people what they might not want to hear, and we have enough yes people on boards.

    Many board members begin as volunteers and are the best board members because they are the most knowledgeable and the most invested.

    That’s my two cents for the day . . .

  19. Deb November 11, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Well, I will definitely give this some thought. I imagine that even if I decide to pursue it, there will be some kind of process to get onto a board. It is all sort of intimidating to me, but it would likely be a good experience!

  20. Mary Martin November 12, 2008 at 9:13 am

    The process is usually, “hey, i’d like to serve on the board. what do you think?” A nomination committee (there might not even be one for a small organization) gets to know you a bit (read: you go out for tea or have lunch, and they already know what they need to know, which is that you’re passionate about the mission) and nominates you at a board meeting and PRESTO!

    The time and energy and financial commitment isn’t for everyone, however, so I’d find out about all that. Everyone brings something different, but from my experience not everyone thrives in that kind of structure/environment, and some people work best as lone wolf volunteers who do what they can when they can. I ask myself: What can I do to best serve the mission? Sometimes it’s being on the board, and sometimes it isn’t.

  21. Deb November 12, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    This is like a whole other world that I knew of only in the vaguest sense! Thanks for explaining all of it – at least now I know what questions to ask!

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