How to acquire new members for free and collect donations?
Tuesday May 10, 2011 by Andrea M. DeBerry
I am working on ways to gain new members in hopes of also gaining donations. Membership is free, any suggestions on how to get new and existing members to donate?
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Donations for Watchtower magazine
Tuesday September 29, 2015 by Alex Hales
This is a reply to: How to acquire new members for free and collect donations?
Let me clarify. Before the 1990s, JWs did indeed sell their literature to the public. The JWs would pay for the literature they collected at the kingdom hall and recover this personal expense by selling the literature to the public. Under this arrangement, the Watchtower had a more or less guaranteed, predictable income based on the amount of literature they shipped to kingdom halls. The price of the literature wasn't very expensive, but then again the cost of producing it was very cheap given the very cheap labor costs from JW volunteers at bethel printing facilities; and zero advertising and marketing costs associated with publishing it - the "marketing" and publishing being done by the preaching work of JW publishers going from house to house. So with the literature being mass-produced on a large scale with little labor costs to Watchtowr and no advertising and marketing costs, Watchtower was likely still making a profit at the relatively low price they were offering the literature to the public.
However, around the early 1990s Jimmy Swaggart was involved in some court case with the IRS concerning him having to pay sales tax on religious items that he sold to the public. Recognizing the implications the case would have for Watchtower's own literature sales to the public, the JW organization even lodged a friend of the court submission siding with Swaggart's position.
Eventually, Swaggart lost the case and had to pay sales tax. This set a precedent for Watchtower to also have to pay sales tax if it is also in the business of selling religious literature. So to avoid this outcome, Watchtower suddenly noticed that scripture in Matthew where Jesus told his followers to give free because they received free, and used it as a scriptural cover for enacting a new policy of giving the literature on a voluntary donation basis rather than selling it. For over a century before the Swaggart case Watchtower never saw it fit to apply this scripture and give the literature free on a donation basis.
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