Fundraise for a cause

There are different ways to raise the necessary funding required for a cause. Three examples are explored here: Maui Choral Arts, Melissa Axel, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Bali medicine woman. Musicians require funding too.


My recent blogs about Maui Choral Arts fundraising for a matching donation and Denver-based Melissa Axel using Kickstarter to raise funds for her debut album had me thinking about the topic of fundraising.

In less than a week since its announcement, Maui Choral Arts has reached its target of $1,111 (i.e. before 11th Jan 2011) and will be matched by an anonymous donor.

Meanwhile Melissa Axel changed her target date to 2nd January 2011, to reach the goal of $7,000.

While Maui Choral Arts’ fund raising campaign announced at its recent concert (OFFLINE), Melissa Axel conducted hers online through her website, Kickstarter, Facebook, and other social network media.

In the book “Eat, Pray, Love” author Liz Gilbert used e-mail to raise capital to help a local medicine woman in Bali. She wrote to all her friends that’s what she wanted for her birthday, and she’d personally match whatever is raised. A friend of hers offered to double it. In a short period of time, she raised $18,000.

How are all these three examples similar?

1. They specify the cause they are raising money for. These are justifiable causes for survival.

2. The money has to be there BEFORE the goals can be reached. Maui Choral Arts needs money for its next season. Melissa Axel needs funding to record and release her debut album. Liz Gilbert’s Balinese friend needs money to buy a home.

3. The fundraisers ALREADY have a wide network of people, i.e. potential donors or friends of donors. The audience at Maui Choral Arts concert filled the church completely. The singers, instrumentalists, listeners, and others present had their own contacts. They could all be disciples of the fundraising cause if they wished. Melissa Axel invited more than 1,500 people on her Facebook event to join her fundraising campaign. Liz Gilbert used the power of her personal network to fulfill a personal wish.

4. The donors had compelling reasons to donate. If you want to hear another concert of Maui Choral Arts, you’d want to donate. If you want to obtain a recording of Melissa Axel, you’d want to donate. Put yourself in the shoes of the local medicine woman who needs a home of her own to raise her daughter and build a practice, you’d want to donate.

How are these three examples different?

Maui Choral Arts is based on Maui. It is a local cause, channeled through residents on the island. Melissa Axel, though based in Denver, cast her net wide — the Internet is global. Liz Gilbert’s cause was local but she sought donations from abroad, in fact, the other side of the world. None of her donors knew the recipient of her cause. But they were willing to contribute because of their connection to Liz.

How successful are benefit concerts in raising funds for a cause?

I recall my meeting with the late Jeroen Muller in May 2009. He had founded the non-profit “Disability Affairs” and asked me about getting musicians to do a benefit concert for the foundation. I was happy to help him but told him that musicians had to get paid. He was surprised about this, for he thought plenty of musicians (including conservatory students) would want to perform for free.

If so, why would my two music examples (Maui Choral Arts and Melissa Axel) require funding at all?

Author: BLOGmaiden

As one of the earliest bloggers (since 1999), I enjoy meeting people who embrace "out-of-the-box" thinking and fear not the unknown. I believe in collaboration for sustainability because it increases stakeholder value.

4 thoughts on “Fundraise for a cause”

  1. Thank you so much for including my debut album fundraiser in your blog, Anne! I am honored. 🙂

    Important note: When launching a Kickstarter campaign, you must choose a fundraising period and set the minimum amount needed to complete your project as your funding goal.

    Once set, you cannot adjust the end date or goal amount—we have until the end of January 2nd to reach our $7,000 goal to finish and release the album. (To keep it current on facebook’s events page, I adjusted the date on the invite I’d created to tell folks about the fundraiser so it would reflect the actual end date on Kickstarter.)

    Success, indeed survival, does not just depend upon how well we engage our audiences but also how well we help them understand the funding tools now relied upon in the arts—and why it is imperative that everyone directly supports the creators and creations they value.

    Arts funding activities require an educational commitment on the part of the artist—especially a Kickstarter campaign, since the site is relatively new and not everyone is familiar with PBS/NPR style pledge drives or even the need to directly support the arts in general.

    Our Kickstarter campaign is called “It Takes A Village To Release A Debut Album” for a reason. Quite simply, we need everyone who cares about the music to help make this dream a reality by pre-ordering the record and/or donating toward its completion. Whenever I reach out to my contacts via email or the facebook invite, I have to make this crystal clear:

    “As an independent artist, I do not receive any record label support. The only way to produce a full, professional quality debut album is to directly involve you in making the record. And isn’t it more connected that way?”

    It truly IS more connected that way, but it doesn’t really matter whether we personally know the creators or not … Since I set up my Kickstarter page, I’ve discovered and contributed to three other great projects launched by complete strangers to me, as well as a few created by artist friends in our area. I’m proud to support people I don’t know doing things I think are worthwhile … someone we don’t know who makes something that mattes to us can very quickly become someone we share a deeper connection with than others we see every day at work or school.

    The bottom line? If we want the music and art we believe in to be available at all, it is now up to us to make sure it gets “out there” in some way or another. Our connections to the artists and art itself will be far the richer for it.

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