One week ago, I received an email from APA Development Director Robert Audi asking me to donate to the APA, and I posted about it here. Commenting on that post, Joshua Smith, gave some reasonable and constructive advice on the APA’s email practices. Another commenter Curt as well as Brian Leiter made important comments to the APA about donation requests.
The email, which I will provide in full below the fold for context, had the subject line: Help Expand Philosophy’s Influence.
If you have been reading my guest posts, you will know that I am all about expanding the influence of philosophy. The problem I have with this email request from the Executive Director is that the email doesn’t explain what the funds are going to support or how it is going to expand philosophy’s influence. Supporting work that is relevant to philosophers and supporting the work of philosophers is not the same thing as expanding philosophy’s influence. I would suggest that no matter the development goal, tell people what that money is going to support. How are the funds going to “expand” philosophy’s influence or “represent” philosophy in the public arena? If it’s just to support another newsletter, conference, or maintain current activities, then that’s not enough of an explanation. It certainly doesn't justify a second request so soon after Audi's.
Is it too much to ask the Executive Director of the APA to provide a vision for expanding philosophy’s influence before asking for money? I don’t think so. Full letter below. Comments are open.
Dear Christopher Pynes,
In the past year, the American Philosophical Association has awarded dozens of prizes and fellowships; provided tens of thousands of dollars in grants for innovative projects, including a variety of philosophy conferences and events; and produced newsletters, a journal, and other resources on an array of topics relevant to philosophers.
We provided all of these things while working within a very limited budget. That is why we need your support. Your donation would allow us to maintain our current activities and fund new initiatives like fellowships, curricular development, lectures, and research support.
We need your help to reach our current fundraising goal of $25,000 by June 30. By providing your tax-deductible donation, you will ensure that the APA can support our current and existing projects, as well as continue to represent philosophy and philosophical issues in the public arena.
Thank you for your support.
All the best,
Amy E. Ferrer