Individual Fundraising – How To Do It

Nobody likes to talk about money, but there comes a time in everyone’s life where you need to start having those hard conversations.  Now, you can continue to avoid the dread ‘M’ word issue or you can deal with the fact that every facet of your life deals with money.  The sooner you become comfortable talking about it in everyday conversation the easier this talk is going to be.

Non-profits thrive and prosper on the development team.  This part of the organization is the area that brings in the money and makes all the wheels turn from production to education to everyday operations.  In my research to become more apart of the dance world in Los Angeles I have recently applied for a development position.  In my prep for not only furthering my career, but an overarching understanding of the arts world from commercial to nonprofits it is important to grasp knowledge and research what you still need to learn.  One of the components of this potential position includes individual fundraising, which I do not have experience in, but you have to start somewhere.  Granted I have an understanding of grant writing, fund reporting, fundraising efforts with the community, database maintenance and upkeep, and donor event planning, but I have never done anything directly with individual donors and major gifts.  So, I did what I do best which is research like a crazy person.

Started by talking with a woman who has been in the major gift and solicitation game for thirty years.  She told me that following the 10, 10, 80 rule is the most important rule.  Ten percent of funding are grants – foundations, government, corporate, ten percent are smaller funding donations from annual appeals and e-mail solicitations, but eighty percent are your major donors.  These donors need to be cultivated, courted, and become part of the company’s family.  Understanding this rule I came to the understanding that individual giving is the most important aspect in development.  Needless to say I have gained a tremendous respect for the employees that have taken on this intimidating and daunting task of approaching people for funding.

So my thought to maximizing an individual giving program is to first draw up a plan with short and long term goals that have deadlines attached to them.  For example, start by concentrating on the circles that surround the company.  Around the company you have the executives of the organization and board members.  I would want to uses these people to test the case of support to the leadership by developing the story of the company that could be presented to donors (i.e. mission, artistic work, education, community…etc).  Exciting and engaging the people that are associated with the organization so they (board and other leaders) will participate and are comfortable to participate and give one hundred percent to fundraising plan.

Once you have the leadership on board and the basic pitch it is time to get to know the database of the company.  What do your current donors have in common?  Are their relationships between the donors (i.e. friends, family, or board relation)?  Once you are able to separate your current donors into giving categories take a look at other organizations to see if their giving levels are the same or is their a potential for a higher donation that hasn’t been tapped.  Don’t solicit your donors the same.  Continue to target and ask for the right amount for the right type of area of the company to fund.  Continue to communicate to all donors through multiple channels – social media, mail, e-mail, and individualize calls and letters.

Next it is time to leverage the connections.  You know how I was talking about those circles around the organization?  Well the next circle would be friends, associates, and connections with VIPs of the company.  Enlist board support by getting their inner circle to get to know the organization by hosting a small event in a personal setting.  Educate, inform, and involve them.  Cultivate the relationship long-term.  Getting the donor to go from donation to investment in the organization is key.  You want these people to not only give money but believe strongly in the organization.  To do this you need to develop an investment opportunity, give the donor an opportunity to transform the organization or the community, and then you as the organization need to demonstrate that change.

Donor solicitation is a lot like dating.  First you get to know a person.  What are their interests?  How could their interest connect with the company’s interests?  If both of the parties (i.e. the individual and the company) interests can connect in a positive way you start a courtship with the donor.  Throughout the courtship you educate them about the company, find common interests, and get the donor to connect in a personal way.  From their comes the commitment (i.e. the proposal).  The asking for the funds from the donor and how their investment will be used.  Looking at solicitation like dating makes it a little less scary because it fits on a level that everyone can relate to in society.  The thing to remember is that money isn’t as scary to talk about it if you can find a common ground.


Songs & Artists that Shaped My High School Years

GreenDayIt’s kind of funny to look back at your high school self where the smallest thing like getting a major pimple breakout could seem like the end of the world.  The fact that you felt that your parents couldn’t possibly understand because seriously they were never a teenager in your eyes.  The dramatics of a teen are hilarious to me now and I was not really a dramatic teenager, at least I didn’t think I was in the sense that everything was constantly the end of the world.  I did well in school, I was in dance classes in all of my free time, and the little free time I had I would hangout with my friends.

As a teenager I was really into pop-punk and punk-rock music.  Granted I also listened to a lot of pop music as well, like Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and N’SYNC, but I loved the thrashing beat of the drums, the bass pumping the song loudly into my stereo speakers, and the guitar solos the escalated the power of the song to a climax.  The early 2000s were a growth and comeback period for guitars.  You had artists like Blink 182, Simple Plan, Fountains of Wayne, Bowling for Soup, American Hi-Fi, and Green Day gain a huge following and popularity.

Simple Plan released their debut album in 2002-2003 called “No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls.”  Firstly, the title of this album is amazing.  It explains all the thoughts that you think as a teenager.  Life is just one big dodgeball game and you are constantly getting pelted without padding.  I don’t know if that was their intention of the title of the album, but I remember laughing at the album cover art when I got the album where it just showed one giant out of control frat party.  This album sold over a million albums in the United States and over four million copies worldwide.  These kind of numbers are unheard of today with the changing of music industry, but these numbers really shows the popularity of this group.  This pure pop-punk record had four major hits from it – I’m Just A Kid, I’d Do Anything, Addicted, and Perfect.  Perfect is one of my favorite songs off this album.  It reminds us that parents have such a huge impact on a kid’s life.  What you do.  What you say.  It means everything to a kid.  How you think of them.  Your reactions to their successes and their failures as well as their goals and aspirations.  Even as an adult their opinion still matters.

All you late 1990 and early 2000 babies I am about to educate you.  Fountains of Wayne and Bowling for Soup are not the same artist!  Stacy’s Mom – RIAA Gold Certified and Grammy Nominated song was done by Fountains of Wayne.  For all you parents yes this song is majorly inappropriate, but what song has ever actually been appropriate from the punk genre?  Bowling for Soup catalog includes songs like 1985, Almost, and my personal favorite Girls All The Bad Guys Want.  Girls All the Bad Guys Want was released in 2002 and was Grammy Nominated for Best Pop Performance by a Group or Duo.  It still remains a staple in my life when I need a good lets jump around on my bed like five year old, or reminiscing on the days my college roommate and I would totally lose it when this song came on while we were studying.

Who could forget artists like Blink 182 with their fast talking, guitar pushing, and totally crazy lyrics in songs like The Rock Show or when they got super serious in others like Stay Together for the Kids or I Miss You.  Blink 182 hit a high commercial success from 1999 to 2004 and even though they have broken up (yet again) I’ll never forget my teenage obsession I came to have with songs like What’s My Age Again or All The Small Things.

The band of my high school school career has to be and will always be Green Day.  Now all you punk rock fans out there are going to say they didn’t come out in the early 2000s.  Yes, I know they came out with their break through album back in 1994 and formed in the late 1980s, but they finally received the nod they deserved from the public and the music industry in 2004 when they released the rock opera that is “American Idiot.”  It debuted on the Billboard Charts at #1 and was the first of their albums to reach number one.  It won the 2005 Grammy for Best Rock Album and it went on to become a Broadway hit.  Their is no way I could pick just one song from that album as my favorite, but if I had to chose Jesus of Suburbia takes my vote.  It is a nine minute song set in five part story of someone’s life spinning out of control, lost in having nothing to believe in, to care about.  You can hit that wall whether you are a teenager or an adult.  It just becomes easier as an adult knowing that it is not the end of the world when something doesn’t make sense.  Your failure is not what defines you.  It is how you stand back up from the fall that helps you find the boulevard you chose to be on.

“To live and not to breathe
Is to die in tragedy
To run, to run away
To find what you believe”
-Green Day (Jesus of Suburbia)

Click here for the perfect early 2000 punk-rock playlist.

Keone and Mari Madrid – The Next Hip-Hop Dynamic Duo

Keone and Mari Madrid are called the next NabbyTabs.  It’s wonderful to get compared as an artist to people you admire, but this dynamic duo has a style all their own.  With the caring and kind nature of Keone and the graceful and free spirit of Mari these two are out to change the world of dance through education, choreography and philanthropic efforts.

Keone Madrid’s first love was basketball.  He grew up playing sports and didn’t take his first hip hop class till he was fifteen, where he started with one class a week taught by KJ Gonzales.  Starting dance at such a late age and becoming a successful professional is rare, but he was determined.  After his first class he joined the apprentice crew of Culture Shock San Diego called Future Shock San Diego, which eventually become the director.  After high school his students and mentors encouraged him to pursue his choreographic aspirations and really get out in the world.  He was nervous to post his work online so students started to on his behalf which led to his first international gig in Norway.

Mari Madrid also didn’t start dancing until a late age.  At thirteen years old, she took her first dance class in Boulder, Colorado.  At seventeen she moved to San Francisco and danced with a group called Funkanometry.  Finally, at twenty-three she moved to San Diego to dance with Choreo Cookies.

These two love birds originally met at Urban Legends in Temecula, California where they were both teaching.  They eventually joined the same crew shortly following Choreo Cookies, which they became co-directors in a short time.  These two have choreographed for music artists all over the United States and Asia as well as had a successful commercial career choreographing the 2012 Hyundui commercial and most recently was on So You Think You Can Dance as a choreography duo.  The couple has signed with Go 2 Talent Agency as a choreographic team.  They have also founded Kingdom Made which is an arts charity that sells clothing and accessories to fund its international mission to build homes and offer dance and art workshops for the underprivileged.

When I look at people to admire, I look at no only talent, but are these people truly good people.  The Madrids are beyond good people.  They don’t allow society to run the way they think or their actions.  They play by their own rules as professional dancers and choreographers as well as personally in their beliefs on relationships and importance of getting to know someone deeply before fully committed to a marriage and that marriage actually mean something more than another step in a relationship.  I spent hours watching their work on YouTube and noticed that as individuals they were technically beautiful, but as partners they had an undeniable spirit in the way they moved.

I watched YouTube videos for hours before I came across two that spoke to me personally.  The Madrids created a music video in 2011 called Don’t Stop the Music which was stylized in the 1920s and went from black and white to color.  An energy and connection that was undeniable as they used off rhythms to make the movement flow.  Their style was full of illusion with smooth yet sharp isolations.  They incorporated small changes in their movement like doing arm motions sitting to standing to different camera angles of the same movement that seem different but they are not.  The remix done by Jamie Cullum is revolutionary and drives the piece as Mari is a beast in her heels while maintaining the sweet and lovable side in her dancing.  The other piece I watched was one done at the Urban Dance Camp with music by Sam Smith, Stay With Me.  In this piece they were so in sync with each other that it was undeniable that they were meant to dance together.  A beautiful couple, a perfect choreographic partnership, and two people that are unstoppable.

**All life information about the couple was found at Dance Spirit Magazine article by Ashley Rivers and Go 2 Talent Agency**

Watch their Don’t Stop the Music Video Below!  Their articulate hand and arm choreography is so intertwined that I think I backed up the player more than 10 times.

Does Your Playlist Matter in Your Workout?

Have you ever seen the movie Hardball?  In the film the star pitcher Miles needs to listen to the song Big Poppa to pitch well, but when an opposing team’s coach decided to ban his headphones while he was pitching the whole team sang him the song during the game so he could get his mojo back to win the game.  Before Miles even threw a pitch he would get inside his own head by listening deeply to the beat and closely to the lyrics:

“I love it when you call me Big Pop-pa
Throw your hands in the air, if yous a true player”

Music can have a high impact on your ability to perform, workout, or focus.  Over the years Dr. Costas Karageorghis has studied the enhancement abilities music can have on a workout.  Karageorghis created the Brunel Music Rating Inventory which is a questionnaire used to rate the motivational qualities of music.  Administered to different panels of various demographics who listen to 90 seconds of a song and rate its motivational qualities for physical activities.  What has been discovered is that tempo is one of the keys to a good workout playlist.  Using the beat (tempo) to the rate of your movement gives the person a pace to keep so it becomes easier to speed up or slow down.  The other reason why tempo is important is it can keep time with your heart with the right flow of music.  The average person’s heart rate corresponds to the tempo of 120 to 140 beats per minute (bpm).

Music becomes like a metronome for your body to keep time, pace, and energy.  Besides tempo or rhythm, lyrics and how a song makes you feel emotionally can also have a significant impact.  Considering your emotion can determine your motivation in your workout.  Are you going are hard at the gym trying to push yourself to the limit?  Are you trying to find an inner strength and relaxation place through yoga?  Or are you trying to keep pace to do weight lifting while trying to distract yourself from exhaustion.  It has been proven in studies done by Dr. Karageorghis that music can distract you from pain and fatigue, elevates your mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort, and promotes metabolic efficiency.  In the article, “Let’s get Physical: The Psychology of Effective Workout Music” by Ferris Jabr it discusses how many organizations who put on races have banned music during the race if they are vying for awards or money.  This ban was going to go broader to all marathon runners from music players to prevent runners from having a competitive edge.  There was a lot of push back from the marathon runners so it never become an official rule.

For me, listening to music allows me to get lost in my head.  My brain is constantly running and very rarely shuts off.  It is always thinking – what is my next step in life?  Was the decision I made at work the right one yesterday?  I have to make my to do list?  The list goes on forever.  According to “They’re Playing My Song. Time to Workout” by Steven Kurutz, people exercise longer and more vigorously with music.  I think it is because it gives a person a focus point.  If I can get through this song running my next few laps I am one step closer to the finish line.

I have a tendency to create a playlist for the different stages of my workout.  First you have your warm up where you need to amplify your momentum.  Then you need a driving force to continue to push you in the moment and keep you focus.  Finally, you need some recovery music to bring you back down to a relaxation state and decrease your heart rate.  Knowing friends of mine the three most popular genres that I’ve found on playlists are hip hop, rock, and pop.  All these types of music you can use for various stages of your workout.  A little hip hop to get the blood flowing, rock to keep the push, and pop to bring you back down to a dance your apartment level or stretching.  As Dr. Karageorghis says, “one could think of music as a type of legal performance enhancing drug.”  So, as Nike says “Just do it.”

Click Here for my current workout playlist!  And “I love it when you call me big poppa…” and I might have a slight 80s problem.

The Inner Workings of a Non-Profit Dance Comapny

There are two looks of a dance company. The dream-like state that the audience sees on stage, and then there is a reality to it. Being apart of the dance world since I was a child and understanding all aspects of the business side is important to running a dance company.

First you have the mission of the company. The message that the company is driven on. It should only be a few sentences long, and should be the basis of the company’s story. If a reader can’t figure out what your company is about based off the mission statement you need a new one. Next you have the artistic vision of the choreographer. There needs to be a way to present his/ her vision to not only to the general public through marketing, but to current and potential donors.

This brings me to the administrative offices. First you have the marketing team. The marketing team is what makes the company look good visually. For the marketing team you need photos shoots to happen at least once a year. This will allow new works to be photographed, new dancers to be highlighted, and old works that are coming out of retirement back into the current repertoire to be photographed with new casting. Next you have the development team. The development team writes the grants, researches foundations and government funding, does solicitations to individual donors, courts donors for major gifts, organizes and manages capital campaigns, and is the go to person for managing and maintaining relationships with the donors. A good development team is key to having a successful dance company because they are the ones bringing in the funds to keep the artistic product moving forward to new opportunities.

Since we are talking about money you need an excellent finance person who can be sure to monitor all areas of the company so overspending is not happening. Obviously, there is that old saying “it takes money to make money” but in a nonprofit it is vital to be breaking even. It becomes increasing difficult if the company gets into a financial hole to get out of it because not only can any one see your financial numbers if you are in the negative for multiple years, it will be difficult to convince a donor they are not giving to a black hole or that you are unable to handle your funding positively.

Finally, you have the management and executive staffing like the company manager. This person is equally important to artistic side as well as the administrative side because they are like a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth playing the in-between to presenters, lawyers, publicists, dancers, teachers, travel companies, record and publishing labels, and of course the executive and artistic director to be sure that the company is on the same page. It is vital that this person can work well under pressure, multitask, and understand the importance of what is a priority.

The next time you go see a dance company remember that all the people that work behind the scenes are just as important as the choreographers and the dancers; and without them, the inner working of the company would fall apart.