Dear Friends of FEE:
September 2013—the same month in which I turn 60—will mark five years since I became President of FEE. That number sounds awfully big to me, and I mean the 60, not the 5.
It’s my great pleasure to report some far bigger numbers to you here in this letter. After several years of working with our staff and board of trustees to put FEE on a solid financial footing, devise a new strategic plan, arrange for a move to a new headquarters site and transform our programs and publications, I can tell you that we are off the launch pad and on our way!
A number of months ago, I told you of our intent to Inspire, Educate and Connect future leaders with the economic, legal and ethical principles of a free society. We have just started that process, but I’m happy to say we are making a difference.
By nearly every important indicator, FEE is breaking records. 2012 was a fantastic, pivotal year for us. Early signs are that growth in 2013 is headed off the charts. Here are just some of the measures that tell us your investment in FEE is paying off:
Applications from high school and college students for our summer seminars are four times what they were in 2008. In 2013, we’ll be accepting about 800—twice as many as 2008 and 300 more than in 2012. We’re hosting a record ten seminars in six locations, from Seattle to St. Louis to Atlanta.
We filled orders for marketing kits from over 360 different professors, teachers and student groups throughout the country, reaching thousands of students.
Audience numbers for FEE programs and speakers throughout the year exceeded 10,000 in 2012, and that doesn’t count the additional thousands who participated afterward by viewing many of those presentations online.
Our fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 31. With less than a month to go before the current year ends, contributions are up more than 20 percent over last year!
Last fall, we introduced a revamped Web site, a new editor of The Freeman and regular, fresh content every weekday on FEE.org—content designed more than ever to appeal to young audiences who have decades ahead of them to advance ideas of liberty. Since making these changes, the average time spent on our website by each visitor has doubled.
Online webinars, each an hour in duration, numbered a mere handful in 2011, grew to nine in 2012 and are scheduled to more than double in 2013. Participants are joining in from around the U.S. and from countries in Asia, South America, Africa, Europe and the Pacific.
In the realm of social media, we’re connecting with impressive numbers of people. Our Facebook page now boasts 30,000 fans and those fans are “sharing” our posts with thousands of others every week.
Videos like “The Truth about the Minimum Wage” are drawing thousands of students to FEE and to economic education through short, focused pieces that quickly break down the issues. That video alone generated over 26,000 views in its first month.
FEE now features five Educational Modules on our website created specifically to provide teachers and students with packaged, issue-specific content ready to be used at home or in the classroom.
- FEE should be in your city soon. Keep an eye on our events page as we schedule more one-day academies throughout the country.
As Hannibal Smith says in the A-Team, I love it when a plan comes together. None of this remarkable progress was accidental. We got to this happy situation because we made some tough decisions in very difficult times. We fixed a challenging financial condition, refurbished staff and committed to new technologies and more efficient ways of reaching more people. What many friends in the liberty movement are calling “the new FEE” is indeed new and exciting on all fronts, though our bedrock principles are the same as they’ve always been. Check out what Jeffrey Tucker of Laissez Faire Books is saying about us.
There’s another item worth mentioning that isn’t exactly measureable but a very good sign nonetheless: Have you noticed other liberty-minded organizations ramping up their emphasis on personal character? We have, and we take it as a compliment. From its founding by Leonard Read, FEE has worked to make plain the connection between liberty and character. In recent years, we’ve worked to elevate this point more than ever. It’s good to see that it’s resonating not only with our audiences but with our allies in “the movement” as well.
What’s next? With all this change in place, it’s time to kick things into overdrive and build on our initial success. FEE’s focus is on youthful newcomers and so we need to streamline our distribution channels and ensure that we are reaching those young people with the desire and ability to be the next generation of leaders for liberty. You can help in that task. Tell your friends, neighbors, local teachers, and high schools about FEE. If you need information to distribute, let us know. If you know of a convention or meeting that we should be present at, give us a call. And if we can’t be there, perhaps you can help represent FEE in your community. We will help you.
FEE’s future as an advocate of first principles to relative newcomers in the philosophy of liberty has never been brighter. I expect to have a lot more good news to report to you in coming months and years as FEE’s growth and impact accelerate. Thanks for your patience, support and encouragement. It means a lot to all of us here at FEE. We see you—our readers, listeners and donors—as partners in communicating a noble message, namely, that buttressed by strong personal character, liberty is the wave of the future!
Lawrence W. Reed