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Catalogue Blog

Street Sense Goes Weekly, by Eric Falquero, Editorial Director

Street Sense Media is realizing a long-time goal of doubling how often we publish the street paper of our nation’s capital! Starting April 14, our community can look forward to a new publication every Wednesday! At the heart of this expansion is one simple thing: vendor income. We project that the women and men selling our newspaper will earn an average of 40% more money based on observations from our sister street papers in Chicago, Seattle, and Portland that have already transitioned to weekly distribution.

This increase will help vendors meet their daily, basic needs​ and make the program more attractive to new vendors. The more consistent income will make saving and budgeting funds from working with Street Sense Media easier. And we will also be able to pay the artists who contribute to Street Sense – writers, photographers, illustrators, and more – twice as often.

SSM J McNeil

A 2015 analysis of our past sales data found that sales were, on average, 74% higher in the first week of a paper’s circulation. And in a readership survey the following year, a whopping 78% of readers said they would purchase the paper every week if we made this change.

Writing, editing, designing, and printing twice as much is a big lift and it has taken a long time to successfully connect with the generous funders who have made this happen. Last year, we hired a second full-time editor, Deputy Editor Jake Maher, doubling the size of our editorial department. And we are – continuing to recruit – volunteer editors, reporters, and page designers.

SSM Q Featherstone

More frequent publication also strengthens our product to better serve our community. The range and depth of our journalism has continued to grow from year to year. Publishing more frequently will mean bringing our print readers more timely news by featuring articles that would usually run online only. It also allows space to spotlight more relevant news from our partner newsrooms: DCist, The DC Line, Greater Greater Washington, and other street papers from around the world. Our community calendar and job listings will be more frequent. The voices and talents shared in our pages through poetry, prose, and visual art will diversify and be amplified all the more. And the opinion section, which is – open to all members – of our community, will be able to provide a platform for more timely commentary and debate.

This is our entire community’s paper, and we’re so excited to grow it with the community’s support.

A lot has changed over the past year. The pandemic decimated paper sales; street vendors cannot work from home. Our community rallied around us, helping to establish a vendor assistance fund for our case management department and increasingly using – our mobile payments app – to pay vendors for what people are reading at home, or just to provide them extra support. But none of this has measured up to the same level of income Street Sense Media vendors earned previously. As our community works through the vaccine rollout and continues to rebuild and recover, we want to be there to meet our readers? information needs every week and provide a stronger no-barrier work opportunity than ever before for our unhoused neighbors.

Age is Just a Number

Every now and then, and advertisement is so simple in its design that you can’t help but take notice. Amid the noise of a 24-7 media culture, a simple concept with a powerful message can leave an unexpected, lasting impression on the viewer. Though some Madison Avenue execs have perfected this art to promote consumer products (i.e. any iPhone ad you’ve ever seen. ever.), others have used this method to call attention to important social issues.

This week, Advertising Age featured a PSA by Age U.K., a British advocacy group for older people, as its “Ad of the Day.”

“The ad, titled “Love Later Life,” features a poem by English beat poet Roger McGough that was commissioned for the spot and is expertly read by 91-year-old Sir Christopher Lee. It’s the one inescapable element of the human condition that connects us all: nothing can stop us from growing older. But the ad’s simple visuals of people aging from childhood to age 102 let the message truly shine that age, in some ways, really is a state of mind.”

Testimonials on the Age U.K. website add depth to ad’s message by featuring audio and video of older individuals depicting the challenges of aging, which include issues such as financial challenges, health care and emotional support.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy has 10 charities that are passionately focused on the issue of aging, and each has ways that you can help whether by giving a donation or your time.

What can you do with $100?

Looking to volunteer?

Capitol Hill Village: Capitol Hill Village is just that: a virtual village in livable, walkable surroundings where volunteers unite to help older adults age safely and comfortably ? in their own homes and in their beloved neighborhood. Capitol Hill Village is a “volunteer first” organization, meaning that they use volunteers when we can to fill request from our members. Services request can range from gardening to rides to physicians appointments to friendly visiting and walks. CHV also relies greatly on volunteers to provide administrative duties, such as writing articles for our newsletter and working in the office.

Seabury Resources for the Aging seeks friendly visitors for isolated older adults; home repair and maintenance projects so that seniors can age in place more safely, meal delivery, office support, committees and councils to support our work in the community, work on public education efforts, website/IT support or building spruce up projects.

Season of Getting, Season of Giving

The following blog was published by Barbara Harman, Catalogue President and Editor, on December 30th 2013.

To see the original post, click here.

There is a new kind of inequality in our nation and it isn’t between blacks and whites, gay people and straight, or men and women, though these inequalities remain. Income inequality — the new buzz word, or really buzz phrase, that has emerged in recent years and gained momentum in recent months — is really about the gap, the no-man’s land, that divides people not by race or gender but by economic status. The numbers, and their implications, are staggering.

In the nation as a whole, the average net assets of the top 1 percent of the population are 8.4 million which amounts to 70 times -that’s right, 70 times — the average net worth of the rest of the population. According to UC Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez, average real income during what some have deemed the “lost decade” (2002-12) went up 86 percent for the top 1 percent, while for everyone else it went up 6.6 percent. Hold on for one more stat: from 2007-2009, a period that includes the market crash and “recovery” from the recession, 95 percent of the recovery went to the top 1 percent.

In our nation’s capital, income inequality reflects this national trend, but with a twist. Studies released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reveal that the richest 5 percent of individuals in the District of Columbia bring in an average of $436,900, while the poorest 20 percent average $17,000 and the poorest 5 percent clock in at $9100. This last figure reveals wealth disparity, or income inequality, at its starkest: on average, the wealthiest among us make nearly 40 times what the poorest do.

What complicates the picture locally is the fact that the Washington region has a greater share (1/3rd) of what are called “super zips” than any region in the country (Washington Post, “A World Apart”). A super zip is an interesting hybrid: it includes people who are in the top 5 percent for income AND for education. When super zips are contiguous, as they are here, it is possible to live one’s daily life without ever encountering people who are different from oneself — different because they lack a college (or even a high school) degree, live on less (even a lot less, even on virtually nothing) — and whose daily lives are, effectively, invisible. A century and a half ago, author (and, later, British Prime Minister) Benjamin Disraeli referred to the rich and the poor as “two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy, who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings as if they were dwellers in different zones or inhabitants of different planets.”

At the intersection of income inequality and the super zip (the “different zone” or “planet”), the problem takes on an even darker meaning — and creates an imperative that has particular force at this time of year. People who have no experience of, or exposure to, those who live in the other “nation” are unlikely to experience the empathy that generates giving. They have the capacity to give — if income inequality shows us anything, it shows us that — but if they can’t see what need looks like or if they lack knowledge of where to give, then will they give? We can advocate (and should) for an increase in the minimum wage, an extension of unemployment benefits, and a dead halt to cuts in key programs like SNAP and TANF. But as individuals, we should also be, we can also afford to be, more philanthropic.

Research shows that the poor give a greater percentage of their income to charity than the rich, and that they do so because they see before them on a daily basis just what real need really looks like. The rest of us have an exposure problem: where the need is greatest it is also the most invisible. What we don’t witness we can’t experience, and what we can’t experience we don’t connect with, and what we don’t connect with we aren’t likely to support.

In the final days of this year — when giving picks up speed because it has the added benefit of reducing tax liability — we might all take a moment to learn about causes that are addressing the needs of the neediest among us. One way to do this is to explore the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington, which features over 300 vetted community charities that are all based right here, in our nation’s — or two nations — capital. The Catalogue shines a light on the invisible among us, tells their stories, and opens up to all of us worlds of need that we might otherwise not experience. For many in our region, this has been a season of getting. We can also make it a season of giving.

Around Town: June 1-2

We have a hot weekend ahead of us, DC metro! Looking for a place to stay cool while still having a great time? Check out closing weekend of Constellation Theatre Company‘s Gilgamesh. Washingtonian Magazine said, “Constellation Theatre’s Gilgamesh is visually and aurally arresting,” and The Maryland Theatre Guide raved, “This world premiere of Gilgamesh must be seen, and heard, and witnessed. It will leave you lingering with wonder.” Don’t let these reviews do all of the talking–grab your tickets to see Gilgamesh and experience it this weekend before it’s gone!


Constellation Theatre Company
Closing night of Gilgamesh. The show runs from May 2 – June 2, 2013. Part god and part man, King Gilgamesh races the sun & journeys to the ends of the earth on his epic quest for immortality.
When: Saturday, June 1, 2013 (2:00 PM and 8:00 PM) and Sunday, June 2, 2013 (2:00 PM)
Where: at Source, 1835 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Fee? yes – tickets start at $25.
Contact: Lindsey, (202) 204-7741
For more information: click here

Let’s Publish …

By Marie LeBlanc, Catalogue Community Partnerships Coordinator

Earlier this week, the Nonprofit Quarterly published an article by Joe Waters on the importance of nonprofit publishing — not advertising, not promoting, but publishing. In today’s whirlwind world of social media, the re-tweet and “like” often take precedence over extended, printed content creation. Waters points out a couple of reasons why nonprofits benefit from quality publications (branding, differentiation, publicity), but I would argue that the community at large stands to gain from quality nonprofit publications as well.

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“Give It Up” Is Up …

… and we couldn’t be more psyched to see our seventy 2011/2012 nonprofits as the feature of this week’s issues of the Washington City Paper:

[...] Ordinarily, we’d sit around grousing about holiday materialism before schlepping out to pick up stocking stuffers. But this season, we decided to do something different.

For the better part of a decade, the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington has been vetting top local nonprofits to include in its annual giving guide. The process, which takes about six months, involves selecting 70 organizations with budgets under $3 million and rock-solid financial and organizational structures. The vetting is conducted by expert volunteers from the nonproft sector as well as by accountants from the auditing firm RAFFA. Traditionally, the Catalogue has bound its list into a book and distributed thousands of copies to “high net worth individuals” in the area. This year, we’ve worked with the organization to highlight its list in our pages, with the idea that you don’t have to be rich to want to give a little.

Read the full piece here (or hurry to the nearest City Paper box!), and get an awesome glimpse into our newest nonprofits. We’ve also highlighted volunteer opportunities, so you can give with time or money this season.

Catalogue First: Journalism

We always like to celebrate a “first ever” for Catalogue!

From the American Journalism Review (October 21, 2011):

Investigative reporting remains a major part of the mission for the mainstream media. But financial pressures have drastically reduced the watchdog capacity at many news organizations.

Nonprofit investigative outlets like ProPublica have jumped in to help plug the gap. But there’s still plenty of accountability reporting to be done.

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Non-Ideological (Or Not?)

A new study from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has received quite a bit of attention since its publication yesterday. Titled “Assessing A New Landscape in Journalism,” the study delves into a new news phenomenon:

As traditional newsrooms have shrunk, a group of institutions and funders motivated by something other than profit are entering the journalism arena. This distinguishes them from the commercial news institutions that dominated the 20th century, whose primary sources of revenue — advertising and circulation — were self-evident. [...]

The 46 national and state-level news sites examined — a group that included seven new commercial sites with similar mission — offered a wide range of styles and approaches, but roughly half, the study found, produced news coverage that was clearly ideological in nature.

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