Sunday, December 21, 2008

the AOMC's Fundraising Mail Campaign, Winter 2008

First off, an explanation of the proliferation of posts: i'm on vacation, and finally have time to pick up some of the things i love doing, such as this, that i usually don't have time for. Don't be overwhelmed, take your time. I think they're worth reading though, so i'm hoping the quantity doesn't discourage you. More rehearsal videos to come after the break.

So i wanted to do a short post (before i run to catch my bus to DC) on the AOMC's fundraising status, as we've just sent out our first big mail campaign for the season.

In past mail campaigns (2006 and 2007 respectively) we've raised $3,125 (36 donors) and $2,400 (29 donors) The second season we were worried that there would be less donations due to a number of factors, the primary one being more donations in the first year from family/friends who wanted to help me start, but didn't plan on being regular donors. However, while this trend proved true, we were nonetheless pleasantly surprised by the campaign's return. I would LOVE for this season to return to the high 30's donor range. This season, there are a few big factors that make me very nervous about what we'll earn. However each has a counterpoint:

1. Horrible Economy. Point: Hard times for everyone, all different types of donors are feeling the pull, state support dwindling, etc. Counterpoint: with a bad economy, many private donors feel responsible for supporting the arts. Additionally, the arts have always been poor. We know how to function with very little money, so we're a good investment in a down economy.

2. Timing. The jury is still out on this one, but i keep going back and forth on whether the proximity to xmas/new years will help or hurt. Point: people have just spent a lot of money and are now trying to save. Counterpoint: xmas spirit breeds generosity and charity, plus people are trying to get in their tax-deductible donations before the new year.

3. Location. Point: What incentive does our donor base (mainly MD and DC residents) have to support a company that is now located in NY? Also, the NY dance world is completely different from DC's, and i feel very unsure about what to expect in terms of NY donors. Counterpoint: Hopefully, we'll get some of that "just starting out" support again, since it's our first NY season. Additionally, though it won't help for this season, we'll hopefully be developing a strong constituency of NY donors this season who will end up being our main supporters and repeat donors in the future.

4. Donor Profiles. Point: most of our "community" in terms of potential donors are artists and/or students. Young, less likely to donate. More likely to think that "it's not their place or prerogative" and to leave it up to "the people who have money" who in turn leave it up to "the people who really care about that sort of thing", who have no money to donate. Counterpoint: none really, other than increased effort to fundraise among students and artists.


In past years, we’ve only sent out one letter to all of our mailing list. This year, however, I felt that we had really reached a point where we needed to craft two different messages: one for those who had previously donated to the AOMC (and thus knew about the company’s history and mission) and one for people who hadn’t donated before, both long time viewers and new members of our community. I wanted to be able to thank those who had gotten us so far already, and at the same time be able to deliver a slightly more action oriented message to potential donors, most of whom are our age and artists. I therefore sent out two letters - same general idea with a few differences. Here they are (click on the pics for a more readable size):

Main Fundraiser Letter

Previous Donor Fundraiser Letter

And then here's the donation form that was included in each mailing (with a pre-addressed stamped return envelope)

In addition to the two letters, we've also upped the effort in our approach to online fundraising. I'll of course post some information here about how to donate, and we've also sent a message to our facebook group and are in the process of adding the "how to donate" message to our youtube and profiles. Additionally, a new AOMC newsletter will go out within the next week or so with the lead story being our fundraising campaign. While we're not quite done (and have yet to receive the DTW go ahead) with the newsletter text and the blog text, here's our language for the online sites. Each is a little different, but you get the idea. Here's facebook:
"All of us at the A.O. Movement Collective love that you're supporting our work by keeping in touch with us digitally! We want to keep bringing you innovative and exciting projects, and the number one thing you can do to make that a reality is to make a contribution - right here right now! We know that our supporters are students, artists, and revolutionaries - people who don't have wads of money to throw around - but think about this: if every member of this group donated just $10 (less than seeing a movie, proposing to your partner, or buying a new pair of jeans), we would have enough to self-produce an ENTIRE SHOW next year!

All you have to do is GO TO THIS SITE

and specify in the form that you want to donate to SARAH A.O. ROSNER on the drop down menu. To donate by mail, and for more information on how we use donations, check out our website. It's tax deductible* and can officially be considered your "good deed", "act of charity", or "protest against lack of arts funding" for the week! Also, we'll be eternally grateful.

*Sarah A.O. Rosner is a member artist of Dance Theater Workshop, Inc., a non-profit tax-exempt organization. Contributions in support of Rosner's work are greatly appreciated and may be made payable to Dance Theater Workshop, Inc., earmarked for "the Dance Theater Workshop member project of Sarah A.O. Rosner." A description of the work and current project activities for which such contributions will be used are available from Rosner or Dance Theater Workshop, upon request. All contributions are fully deductible to the extent allowed by law. (Note: A copy of Dance Theater Workshop's latest annual financial report filed with the New York State Department of State may be obtained by writing to the N.Y.S. Dept. of State, Charities Registration, 162 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY, 12231, or to Dance Theater Workshop, 219 West 19th Street, New York, NY, 10011)"
As i mentioned in the last fundraising post, my reason for posting all this information (which, i've been reminded by some, is more valuable if i keep it my business secret) is that i understand how immensely helpful it was for me to have something to go off of when i started working on my first one. With each letter i feel that i've been able to make some vast improvements (both in terms of language and design), and i understand that there's always room to improve. I welcome any comments or insights about what works for you and what doesn't. Additionally, if you have a recent fundraising approach or letter you'd like to add to the conversation, please feel free to post it, or send to me.

I've just started receiving mail donations, so i'll keep you updated on how this campaign goes, and all the details of what we raise. Fingers crossed!

1 comment:

Sarah A.O. Rosner/The AOMC said...

I should also mention the general cost of the mailing. As of right now, we have one hundred and twenty contacts on our mailing list - seventy new and forty previous donors. While I haven't done the official adding up of all the receipts yet, my estimate for the cost of the campaign is about $200.

Stamps alone cost about $120 (i debated about including stamps on the return envelopes - it would be the first thing to cut were we needing to lower the cost - but everything i've seen seems to think it really encourages donations). Envelopes and labels are about $50. Copying runs about $35.

So, total cost of about $200, flatly in terms of materials. I was considering hiring someone for a few hours of help to get them all stuffed and sent out in time, but ended up getting a hand from Darla, so didn't need to. I probably spent about twenty hours overall writing and designing, and another five executing.