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The Foundation Beyond Belief Fund Drive finished gorgeously. Including direct contributions outside of the ChipIn system, we came within two percent of our goal, raising an astonishing $8590 from 194 contributors in two weeks.

It’s one thing to hear people expressing casual interest in a new idea and quite another to see them digging into their resources — especially during the current economic unpleasantness — to make it happen. And that’s just what you did.

There’s something startling and moving about the realization that this is money freely given in support of an idea. It’s one thing to give to an organization with a track record, but there’s something special — overwhelming, really — about seeing this kind of support in advance.

So a heartfelt thank you from the Board, our volunteer staff, and me. We’ve had plenty of willing feet on the pedal. Now, thanks to our donors’ generous support, we have gas in the tank to finish out 2009 and launch on time.

What’s that you say? You missed the drive? Or you want to donate again? No worries. A brand-new widget seems to have grown in the sidebar for ongoing donations to help us pay for logo design, bookkeeping, and all sorts of other necessary things both sexy and unsexy. Thanks for considering it when you can.

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.