Significant Stuff

January 31, 2010

Lessons about Fundraising…

I learned a lot by putting together Brave New World.  Which, by the way, was a wonderful success.  I’ll have more details on that after I can make a full accounting.

Some of the biggest lessons are about people and their money…

If you do a fundraiser and get your friends to come and they spend money for the tickets and they even bid on something at the silent auction, you have hit the zenith of heart-felt generosity. I mean it.  The outpouring was astounding, which makes it even more amazing… I was going to say ‘in these tough times’, but that’s not right.

We’re all in a new world of personal finance.  Often, it’s much less than we had before.  But, you know what?  We’re changing.  We’re adjusting.  We’re learning that these are our new realities and that it’s a little defeatist to keep thinking of ourselves as ‘going through tough times’.  A lot of people showed that they’re embracing a good life.  It’s frequently a good life that’s not brimming with as much money as other life-points have, but it’s still good.  And people are learning that they are still generous.  Thank you.  Each and every one of you.  You are the collective financial backbone of Optimist Theatre.

I don’t have rich friends — well a couple of friends are comfortable to well-off, but you know what I mean.  In the crowd was also a handful of people who have a little bit more money to spare and who may open their hearts and wallets to you if the cause is personal.  You know who you are.    You always get the invitations to these things.  Conversations with others often include an elevator pitch of some sort.  I’m here to tell you, thank you.  Thank you for not becoming so guarded that you will still listen.

I’m also here to tell you all that things are changing.

The old philosophy is – invite people with money to a fundraiser and spend the night trying to get them to write you a check.  Result:  You’ve but people with money in a guarded position and you’ve alienated the people who’ve scraped up enough for the ticket by then preaching to them about more money during the show.

The new philosophy… is different.  I can tell you that much.  Ask anyone who knows me.  I’m the queen of introspective evolution based on experiences which lead to action.

Now, what is the new philosophy on fundraising?  I have several ideas…


Susan Scot Fry


Listen to good advice from people with experience, but don’t hold it as gospel.  People’s attitudes and relationships with money have changed.  People are still generous because it’s our nature.  Understanding and respect

Deliver a good product.  The effort doesn’t end when someone hands you a check.  It’s the contract on the deal.  Now, it’s time for us to deliver — whether it’s the event itself or the eventual show in June.

People who are frequently asked for money can become testy when they become inured to the asking.  Responding in kind doesn’t help them feel any less put upon.  It’s a blessing to meet someone who has money to give and is able to maintain graciousness at the same time.  It’s also a blessing to meet someone who’s jaded about always being asked because we have the opportunity to rise to the occasion and, by our actions, illustrate why they cared enough to begin giving in the first place.


Susan Scot Fry


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