The Thebaid Project is large in scope, yet simple in the mechanics of its funding and business plan. Links to supporting documents including detailed budget, itinerary, and more, are provided below. Details have been in development since May 2015, with the following benefits:
- Endorsements & Blessings: The Thebaid Project has been blessed by His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest (OCA), and by my parish priest, Fr. Steven Kostoff (Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit, Cincinnati OH, OCA). Bishop Paul has graciously provided a letter of introduction and endorsement to aid in the scheduling process with the monasteries.
- Team Effort, with Full Transparency: The North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage Project is a Non-Profit Association with separate President, Secretary and Treasurer officers, which helps guarantee full financial and operating transparency. Non-voting advisors provide additional expertise in non-profit boards and fundraising, social media, organization and networking, marketing & branding, legal matters and more.
- Non-Profit Status: The North American Thebaid Project is a Non-Profit Association registered in the State of Alabama, with tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status pending. Contingent upon final IRS approval, donations will be tax deductible retroactive to May 12, 2016 (date of filing of Articles of Association).
- Peer Review and Consultation: The Thebaid Project benefits greatly from consultation with other independent book creators with similar niche market publications. Multiple price quotes from book printers, and in-person meetings in early 2015 with a leading pre-press lab and printer of fine photographic books help guarantee a high quality finished product, smooth production workflow with no surprises, plenty of tech support and guidance, and realistic expectations for proofing, quality, timeframes and cost.
- Publishing and Distribution: Partnering with an established Orthodox publisher would ensure a professional quality finished product, successful marketing, distribution and sell-through. We have been in discussions with two established Orthodox publishers, one of which has already expressed strong interest in publishing the finished book.
- Standardized, Streamlined Logistics: Travel and scheduling logistics will be similar for each monastery so as to allow the process to be standardized and streamlined. Having two “home base” locations (Cincinnati and Birmingham), from which to begin the various legs of the journey, will help in both trip planning and cost effectiveness. The budget also provides for lodging at hotels in between monastery visits when needed.
- Thebaid.org — The online home of the Project, the website hosts a wealth of information and a great number of images from my years of travel to monasteries. The blog has numerous articles already posted, and provides a feel for the spiritual tone of this content-rich platform, which will hopefully become a major resource for monastic seekers in the months and years ahead.
- Thebaid Project Documents — This links to a special DropBox folder with Project documents in PDF format, including Concept Proposal, Budget, Itinerary, full Market Study, Sample Book (two chapters with introductory articles, to show “proof of concept”), Photographer’s Bio, and more.