– by Skye K. Richendrfer
As a fundraiser, the truth is you have to develop something of a thick skin, as seeking financial support for big projects is something like driving the “bi-polar express!” Sure there are incredible ups when that “ask” is responded to with a “yes.” But there are also significant downs, when for the myriad of very good reasons folks can’t support your request—no thank you still means “no.” So I try to keep an even keel and not get distracted from making steady progress toward the goal (even if it seems friends cross to the other side of the street when they see me coming!). Most of us were raised knowing that you simply didn’t talk about money in polite company—because you knew that “a fool and their money were soon separated!
Being in the middle of our “Standing Stones” capital campaign, and having done a few of these in the past, I’ve learned that to be effective in fundraising, you have to be able to answer one fundamental question: “what difference will my contribution make?” Friends, donors and supporters need to understand how their contribution will directly impact your organization’s primary purpose, and their willingness to make contributions is directly related to how your answer to this question resonates with them. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t!
For the Celtic Arts Foundation in the context of our current capital campaign for a new office building—very few people practically care what our work environment is like. What they do care about is how having an office impacts CAF’s programming, effectiveness and sustainability. Our message has been that investing in our infrastructure now, opens the door to even more events and programming with the potential to develop a Celtic Cultural Center as part of the vision. The unveiling on November 15, 2012 of the imagery of what might happen with our project, was greeted with tremendous enthusiasm. The result was that another $7,500 was contributed to the campaign that night, bringing our total to almost $184,000 in donations and pledges on our way to the $200,000 goal.
It seems to me that individuals seek the synergy of successful groups and projects, so balancing the practical with vision and marketing is critical in creating positive momentum toward accomplishing goals. And if you know us at all, you know we try to find fun in all that we do. Around the theme of our Standing Stones campaign – why not have a “Standing Stone” cake while we’re at it!
You know John Kennedy once quipped that “victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat was an orphan.” As we come down the home stretch of the first part of this fundraising project, we have truly been blessed by the generosity and philanthropy of our friends. We now begin exploring the possibility of building a Celtic Cultural Center—a potential vision of which can be seen below.
Imagine coming to small concerts, lectures and related events in this facility in downtown Mount Vernon! Our $200,000 campaign is all about laying the foundation to make this next part possible. We envision a facility that will be absolutely bubbling with activities; volunteer and Clan meetings, Scotch-tastings and Burns suppers, historical and cultural lectures on Scottish, Irish and Celtic heritage and more. The key is, NONE of this is feasible, without taking the first step of addressing our key infrastructure needs at the onset. Exciting times and terrific things are in store for the Celtic Arts Foundation.
You can be part of our Standing Stone campaign my making a donation today here.