Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fundraising; The Epic Journey

When I started planning this volunteer trip to Ghana, I had no idea how much work the fundraising would take. I’m not complaining, but having never done something like this before, let's just say it caught me unawares. The budget I came up with for two people, including a healthy amount for art supplies, was $8000. Discussing money can be taboo, but it is such a vital part of the non-profit and art worlds that I feel our experiences are worth sharing, and I’m going to tell you what we did to raise money. We always tried to keep our campaign consistent in tone; we're serious about raising money and why we're going to Ghana, but our project is a creative one, so we tried to reflect that in the way we fundraised.

"Superjam" jars for sale - containing original art and fun prizes - like puppets!
I raised the first $2760 through indiegogo, a popular online fundraising tool. After painstakingly writing my project description and spending days recording, re-recording and editing a simple video, I sent hundreds of emails asking friends and family for donations. Over the next month, the donations trickled in. A few weeks into the campaign I sent a second wave of emails asking for donations of $10, representing art supplies for one child. The trickle flowed steadily until the campaign ended. Then, wonder of wonders! The trickle kept flowing! I raised $1000 after the campaign ended from people who hadn’t got around to or didn’t want to give online; a most pleasant surprise.

My friends Katy and Felix demonstrate what it's all about!
From spring through fall I held several puppet-making workshops for kids; at local farm Vicki’s Veggies and at the Picton and Milford fall fairs. This was probably the most fun way of fundraising, hanging out in the fresh air and making puppets with kids all day long.

When Susanne Larner came on board as a project partner our fundraising launched into event mode. Our first event was a giant yard sale. We asked for donations of stuff – and boy, did it come rolling in. We drove all over the County picking up donations, and soon my garage was packed to the rafters. We meticulously sorted and priced every item: the good, the bad, and the bizarre. We enlisted a crew to paint signs and plastered them all over Picton, and another crew to help with the set-up. Again, with the learning curve! We should have started setting up several hours earlier. People started cruising by at 7:30 and taking stuff out of boxes themselves by 8:00. The place was a madhouse for the first few hours, which was when we made the most money, winding up at the end of the day with $1000. There wasn’t too much good stuff left when it was over, but what there was, I sold online.

Amazing poster design by Carl Wiens
Our next event was The Superjam, organized by Susanne and some of her friends. The Prince Edward County Comix Jam is a monthly event where folks who like to draw get together at local watering hole, The Acoustic Grill, to create collaborative comics. The Superjam was all that, plus live music, games and prizes, all raising money for our project. We raised more than $700 that night, and had a blast doing so.

T-shirts still available for $20!
Our final event was the annual Scarecrow Festival. It’s been going for some 7 years or so, and my company, Small Pond Arts, took it over last year. People can make scarecrows and take them home for $20, and the proceeds always go to a charitable cause. We extended the event to two days this year, and it’s a good thing we did, because the weather was not on our side. Despite the wind and dropping temperatures we still made $1100 and a gave a lot of families some pretty awesome memories.

If you think this all sounds like a lot of work... well, it was! But we had a ton of fun along the way, and have gained the support of hundreds of people, raising a huge amount of awareness for our project. And despite all these successes, we find ourselves 3 weeks from our departure date and $1000 short of our fundraising goal, drastically effecting our art supplies budget. Thankfully, there's still a few ways you can help!

DONATE NOW. See that button on the upper right-hand side of this blog? You can click there and donate via your credit card or PayPal account. Donations of any amount will put art supplies directly into the hands of creative kids!

BUY SOMETHING. $20 will buy you a Puppets Without Borders t-shirt, available in a variety of sizes & colours. $2 will get you a 1" button that says "Puppets Without Borders" or "I ♥ PUPPETS". We've got a few jars of Small Pond Granola for sale, $4/small and $6/large. Get in touch with me at  krista(at)smallpondarts.ca if there's something you'd like to purchase!

MAKE A LANTERN. I'm holding a lantern workshop Thursday October 18 from 5:30 to 8 PM at Milford Town Hall. I'll teach you how to make a beautiful paper lantern and provide all the materials. We're asking for a donation of $5 per person or $10 per family, and I'll have all of the above items for sale. This event is organized by the County of Prince Edward Public Library, who will be serving up some yummy soup!

DONATE SEWING NEEDLES. Picton Fabric World helped us by collecting hundreds of spools of thread. They are now collecting sewing needles for us until October 31. Drop some off, or buy some in the store.

CASH WORKS, TOO. City Revival on Main Street Picton is collecting cash donations, or you can get in touch with me or Susanne.

UPDATE! As of November 1, 2012 - we have reached our fundraising goal. THANK YOU!!!

A huge thanks to all those people who have supported this project in so many ways. We couldn't do it without you, and you are giving the kids we'll be working with such a beautiful gift - the gift of creating art!

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