What I've Learned About Fundraising (So far.)

Fundraising is an art, and a fascinating one at that because it involves one of the most important things in our lives:  Money.

What exactly is money?  It's something we are all interact with intimately throughout our day, even if we don't work in finance.  It can be the paper, copper or nickel that we exchange for services or goods, it can be numbers in the stock market, but essentially, at its core, money is energy.  I mean, an actual hundred dollar bill is actually worthless when you think about it, but the energy behind it, the power behind it, and our belief in it, is what gives it its worth.

So with money being so inherently complex, it should come as no surprise that asking people for it (a.k.a. fundraising) would be just as complex.  And it is.  It's only been two weeks since we started our campaign, but here's what I have learned so far:

1.  The people who you are sure will give you money often don't, and the people you never expected to, do.  There are certain people in my life that I just expected to jump on the Kickstarter bandwagon immediately, and they are still hanging out on the platform.  And there are people who I haven't talked to in years that jumped right on without hesitation.  No judgements here, just an observation.  

2.  People need to be asked more than once (nicely).  People need gentle prodding and reminding that you are trying to raise money.  Despite what you may wish to believe, no one else is as consumed with your show as you are.  Your friends, family and colleagues are living their lives, working their jobs, taking care of their kids, etc., and likely have every intention to pledge.  They just need to be reminded. 

3.  You need to reach out to people directly and personally.  A plea in your facebook status update fifty times a day is not nearly as effective as a single call or personal email.

3.  You can't take it personally when people don't pledge.  You can't get resentful when your best friend from childhood, your college roommate who made you fly across the country for her wedding, or your rich uncle doesn't pledge.  There are thousands of reasons why people don't click that pledge button, and most of them have nothing to do with you.

4.  You can't take it personally, even when it is personal.  Broken hearts, envy, grudges, etc. are all a part of life and may result in someone promptly hitting the "delete" key when your plea appears in their inbox.  Don't let it get you down.  As I try to remind myself daily, focus on what you have, not on what you don't have.

5.  Investing in a Broadway show is concrete and potentially profitable.  Investing in an Equity Showcase of a musical that might be on Broadway someday is very abstract--and a harder sell (and, unfortunately, not tax-deductible).

So why do it?  Because, I'm here to say it's absolutely worth it.

1.  It's wonderful PR for your show.  The word about Helen is spreading like wildfire, and it's being spread by the best spokespersons--friends and family connected to the show who actually saw our wonderful preview...and their friends are spreading the word...and friends of their friends...and so on.  Despite all the technological advances and social media methods for advertising out there, word of mouth is still the most effective way to spread the word.

2.  It creates an extended community of people who are invested in the development of the show, who are invested in seeing it come to life onstage and who are rooting for you.  It builds your audience.

3.  There's no better way to learn about how to raise money for your show than to jump in and try and raise money for your show.  The past two weeks have provided me with a crash course in Marketing, Advertising and Sales, at no cost.

4. At least once a day you will be moved and touched by the fact that someone believes in you and your project enough to go to the Kickstarter page and make a pledge.

Speaking of which....