Tuesday, January 25, 2011

FUNdraising is FUN

Yes, that's right. Fundraising is fun. At least that is what all the wonderfully talented and creative development staff at NEC paint it to be. We've had a number of information-packed seminars with them, but the last one was just a hoot! NEC is a performing arts institution, and artists are creative and that includes the development office. In order to give us a 'real world' feel of what it will be like out there in the scary world of asking people for money, we did something a little different last seminar: role-playing! It's amazing how this falls right into place in our musician's minds....it's like practicing. We know all about practicing, that's how we ended up so skilled at playing our instruments, right? So why not do the same with fundraising? So we practiced asking people for donations or pledges.

For me it was an eye-opening experience. I think we were all a little apprehensive about the part we will have to play as individual and potentially sole fundraisers to start-up our future projects. The whole thing put me completely at ease, so thank you Gardiner, Marian, Don and Katie for putting the FUN into fundraising!!

This is a big week for us in our continued applications of everything we are learning. We are writing appeal letters and correcting proposals. Today, I met with Eva in the Entrepreneurial Musicianship department at NEC to go over a grant proposal that I am writing for our Abreu Fellows CATS in CONCERT coming up on Feb. 8th. 

I wish I could say that I've learned everything I need to know about fundraising and development, but I can't, yet!.....we still have 5 months to go in the Fellowship....he he he. I do feel very lucky though that my staff mentor is Gardiner Hartmann, Director of Institutional Support for NEC. Every conversation I have with him is filled with invaluable lessons about this part of our field that is necessary and crucial. For many of us, we will not only have to wear the hat of program directors, but also of principal advocates for our programs. I am grateful to NEC and the Abreu Fellows Program for taking such care in ensuring that we feel completely prepared and comfortable in this line of work.

When I first came to the Fellowship Program I felt I came with many strengths. Teaching being one of those. But fundraising? Well....I had my doubts. Mostly because I was unfamiliar with what fundraising entailed and completely unaware of what resources were out there to tap into. It turns out that development is something that I have great interest in and hope to do well in for years to come.

Since everything we are learning at NEC ties together neatly and perfectly, I have to mention that one of the keys to success in fundraising is developing trust based relationships with people and institutions that you will rely on to be partners in your success. This leads beautifully to my next upcoming blog which will be all about our amazing and inspiring day trip to Community Music Works in Providence Rhode Island (pictures included). But since it's past midnight and I have to be alert during our fundraising seminar in the morning, I will leave you with one thought:

What reasons would anyone have for refusing to invest in teaching at-risk youth values that will help them become engaged and contributing members of our society?

If you have any thoughts, please share them with me because they will help me convince potential donors to give me gobs and gobs of money......to run music education programs of course!

Until next time....let's share 'notes'

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