Fundraising: Learning the Ropes

I am shy.

I don’t like calling people I don’t know.

I don’t like calling people I do know.

I don’t like walking up to a stranger and trying to start a conversation.

The thought of having to deal with insurance companies and cable companies who want money I don’t owe them practically makes me puke.

And yet, I’m an actress who rarely gets stage fright.

And yet, I’m currently trying to raise close to $30k for the opening show of GAN-e-meed.

None of this really adds up:   until I had tea this afternoon with an old friend and was reminded how much I love improv, and how I learned to settle the jitters by putting on a character, leaping on to stage and just talking.   How I learned that failure is okay.   How I learned that listening is okay too.   How I learned that the people around me, for the most part, want me to succeed, and as long as I remember that, I’m okay.

After this nice reminder (not to mention a really nice visit with a really nice gentleman) I headed over to   betahouse for a mixer/orientation for The Awesome Foundation.   As far as I can tell, a bunch of friends now numbering an even dozen have all gotten together and created a foundation.   Every month they take in applications for Awesome Projects, chose one lucky project of awesomeness, and hand over a $1000 grant.   Their definition of Awesome?   Hard to tell.   They eventually admitted that they have 12 different definitions of Awesome, but it did also come down to innovation, community involvement, and a finite ability to accomplish something.   The application process is through the use of online text fields: no budgets, no back story, just 500 words to sell them on your project.   This is exactly the kind of innovative way, particularly in this–as they say–“economic climate” the community should be getting together to create opportunities.   Very awesome indeed.

So, I walked in with my improvisational groove on and let it be known that I, too, had an awesome project.   I met several of the trustees and a whole bunch of other applicants with their own awesome ideas.   I think I actually had more fun finding out about their projects than pitching my own.   However, I also took away some great lessons on how to pitch an idea well.

  1. Start with a hook, just like writing.   Something clear, concise, and easy to understand.   Make sure the hook leaves them wanting to ask for more.
  2. Know your facts and use them.
  3. Make sure your audience is ready for facts before you use them.
  4. Don’t be afraid to tout your own credentials when asked and be able to do so concisely.

I also gave myself a pat on the back because I brought my biz cards and handed them out with abandon.

So, I’ve got me some new tools, I’m feeling good about developing these–sorry to be repetitive–development skills, and I may, indeed, actually be able to pull of raising this massive sum of money.   It will be very worth it.


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