Two teammates share their first-time-fundraising experiences.
Li Pallas, winning DC Diva team member.
?When the Wayside Cup season officially began I got a message from Virginia suggesting we begin our email asks. My reaction was that this was not something I wanted to do, and something I was kind of afraid to do, so I better do it right now and get it over with. I reformatted the letter and sent it out to a list of contacts I keep for announcing art projects. The very next morning I had got some responses. This was the inspiration I needed to sustain me over the long haul of fundraising.
Of course, as an artist, I am often a little shy about calling attention to myself. I am certainly not alone in using the internet to mask this. It all started when thePundraisers?got a twitterfeed. I thought, ‘I?ll see your twitterfeed and raise you a facebook page!’ Better yet, I?ll make the twitterfeed automatically post to the facebook page. I tried to follow times of day when I thought more people would see the post. There are known times of day where crowdsourcing is more effective than others like Monday mornings or Friday late-afternoons. When in doubt, I?d look to my gchat queue to see how many people were online. Chances are if the list was longer than normal, I?d get a good reaction.?It was important to say things other than ?we need money.??I posted about why the Wayside is a valuable institution, photos from the?Bring It! Youth Organizers Workshop, and did a PSA about the Bilingual Interpreter Training. I figured some folks would like the?DC Divas?because it sounded like a fun thing to like, and perhaps rather than be invited they had seen in their feed that several of their friends had suddenly liked?DC Divas. Since they might not be aware, it was additionally important to do some educational posts. Fun posts were necessary too, like pictures from previous years and fundraising events we needed to promote. Towards the end I focused on the hype of our ranking. How close we were to our goal, were thePundraisers?beating us again? And finally, on the day of the Cup, we tweeted from the car things like??Prepare to be?Divastated.?
The internet offered certain degrees of anonymity. I could post on our twitter handle instead of as myself, and then share the link from our Divas page with the addition of a more personal sentiment on my own page. In this way I was sort of building invisible loops, with links getting greater viewing because of being shared by multiple people and pages. Beyond connecting our twitterfeed to our facebook page,?I connected the Divas to each other, picking up on phrases Elizabeth Falcon ? our Diva Captain — used and repeating them for emphasis, or creating images we could all use for profile pictures. ?I made sure to tag all my fellow Divas in all of my posts so that the image would appear on their page as well. I used a banner for my final email reminder on my wall and in a facebook event I created on the last day of fundraising. Events, like pages, get more circulation the more people join/like them.
We each must play to our own skill level, and fundraising is no different. I felt like I already had experience designing images for web publication and connecting pathways on the internet. I felt like I could leverage this to the Divas advantage. As the season drew to a close, I felt a lot less shame in the process of inviting folks to make a donation. No one wrote me hate mail for asking them. No one severed their friendship over frequent posts about the Divas. In hindsight, of course they didn?t.?They already know I am committed to social justice, and Wayside is a great place to ground our work. I feel a great sense of pride in having brought and facilitated donations to Wayside. I think it?s super important to have a space to engage in self care while building and sustaining our movement. I can?t wait to raise even more next year!
Leo Elgudin, Pundraiser Team member?
As a novice fundraiser, I approached the Wayside Cup with as much excitement as anxiety. My only attempt at fundraising had been a sure-to-work party thrown for an urban gardening project I was involved with a few years back; it was a certified disaster, and I shied away from fundraising ever since. When teams for the Cup were being organized, I felt my wounds had finally healed, and I was ready for a chance to redeem myself. It helped that I was on a team with other novice fundraisers as well as close friends; solidarity made me feel good.
But I don?t want to exaggerate.?The failed party was really only a memory, and I was much more motivated by Wayside itself, the work, the people, the place; all of those things speak for themselves. My stay in DC was short: I arrived in June and I left in September. It was just long enough to get a glimpse of how important Wayside is, and will continue to be, to those concerned with justice and equality in the area and beyond. And so, inspired by my time in DC and my visit to Wayside, I was poised for the Cup.
I went to the pre-Cup fundraising workshop, I consulted with Miss Leavell, I read all the tip-of-the-week e-mails backward and forward. Our team was active from the start. There was a party, a poker night, another party. As a group we were doing well.?I knew though, that sooner or later I would need to ask lots of people individually.?I asked some in person, but mostly, I wrote e-mails. It was by far the most nerve-racking part of the fundraising. Despite all the possible templates I had, I pretty much wrote each e-mail individually. When it came time to really ask someone, even if it was someone I didn?t talk to that often, I couldn?t help but write sincerely. It?s a bit like preparing for a presentation. You can prepare what you?re going to say beforehand, but when you?re in front of everyone, what comes out is really your knowledge or understanding of what you?re talking about. In these ?e-mail asks?, I just let the Wayside inside me do the talking. I know it sounds silly and vague, but I can?t think of another way to describe it.
With the Wayside Cup now over, I feel I learned a lot about fundraising this summer and now understand how crucial it is that we are the ones to fund our movement.?I?m looking forward to raising even more in 2013.