I for one am so thankful for bookshare. I love volunteering and love the variety and selection of books available.
Thank you Laura Ann At 09:41 AM 10/15/2006, you wrote:
Just a few data-points on some of the generous questions raised on the list:
1. Your money going to subsidize other Benetech projects. Not in much danger of that: we have to raise $4 from philanthropy for every dollar we're getting from Bookshare.org subscribers. Why? We're raising more money at the moment to add staff and engineering resources. Plus, $50 for all the books you can read is relatively cheap.
2. The benefits of being part of an organization that has six projects and not just one. 7 technical staff with different skills instead of part of one which is what Bookshare.org can currently afford. A two person fund raising team (which scores $100,000 of foundation funding for Bookshare.org last week). Me spending lots of my time on policy issues (making sure K-12 textbooks actually get to print impaired students) and trying to get quality books directly from publishers to improve book quality. Being part of a large(r) organization means that Bookshare.org benefits from having full-time people and skillsets to tap that it cannot afford.
3. Slow pace of change. Three reasons. - The first is we're still tiny, which means we're not a rich organization with tons of resources. We're making tradeoffs all the time. - The second is that over the last two years we have not done a good job of making all of the changes we know are needed. We're changing and hiring as a result, and I think this will lead to better progress. But, it's not a switch that turns on in an instant. - Priorities. We've chosen to improve customer service by hiring John Glass, and we've chosen to replace the servers to improve speed and reliability (a process we are half-way through but you should have seen some improvements on both fronts in the last few weeks). We've hired Jennifer Sutton to improve the quality of books and deal with thousands of books that could be in our process by getting one of the world's leading experts on DAISY to join us.
Benetech is a nonprofit organization. We're here for mission reasons, and our team wants to do the best job they can. I hope that our community will join in being encouraging us constructively to do better, and respecting our desire to do that.
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