By Sand Rudd – Marvelous Theatre Person
Fundraising is a dirty F word – it is one of the most difficult parts of being an artist – we all hate it. Well, I don’t. I actually love the chase of getting someone to give me lots of lovely money for my dreams and fantasies. It is SUCH FUN getting the money and then spending it!
We artists are all storytellers, we need to tell our story. How we do that is entirely up to you. I use the medium of the theatre, you may sing, dance or paint your story. We have an inherent need to do so. How do we start to tell our story? The first stage is to dream it; second stage is to make it a reality. The reality then must get translated into MONEY!! Such a pity we have to talk such things – finances and money and budget and all things related to money are all scary, horrible and just hideous, but unfortunately completely necessary. Regrettably, nothing will happen without money.
This is starting point of all dreams – MONEY.
How to get it? The biggest question of all. Over the years, I have raised over 10 million Namibian Dollars for my dreams and ultimately real projects. How did I do it? Well firstly, I will never raise money for anyone but myself. I can only raise money for my plans; I have to have a real passion for what I am doing. I cannot do it for anyone else. This passion is contagious and potential donors will feel your fire and be ignited by it. This is truly what I believe. Without a real belief in what you are doing, you cannot do anything, let alone raise money. You have to have a watertight conviction in your proposal and you will, I assure you, find someone to sponsor you.
I was a sales rep for 3M for many years and I was trained to knock on many doors before I got a sale. Remember – you have to see at least 15 people before you will get your funding. I know this statistic and I believe in it. I will knock on many doors and I will be rejected, but I know there is someone out there who will care for and share my dream. Rejection is always tough particularly for sensitive artists. You have to just embrace rejection and know there is someone out there who will love what you are doing.
Do not do cold calls. Make an appointment and go with a beautiful mind set and a beautiful presentation. Once you have an appointment, clearly, your potential donor is interested, so do not waste this precious opportunity. Use it to sell yourself, your dream, your creation. BE FABULOUS and if you are a woman put on lipstick. I never visit a potential donor without looking fabulous and without my orange lipstick.
The big corporate corporations are where you may start looking for funds. Many big corporations have a Social Responsibility fund and arts projects are often chosen to benefit from the fund. Seek out the corporate social director and make a date to meet them. Hand them a fabulous proposal (one with lots of pictures, well written and well presented; always try to give a glossy cover.) A great proposal is the first step to reaching the potential donor. If they see that your presentation is serious, it follows that your project will be well presented. It really is that simple, a straight back, a great proposal, passionate presentation, clean nails and clean clothes and – the funding will come flowing in. Oh – and don’t forget switch off your phone.
The most important thing in selling a house is location, location, location. The most important thing for you as a recipient of a large sum of money is your reputation, reputation, reputation. Never let anyone down.
Here are some rules (that I learnt over the years) to follow:
1. DON’T CHANGE THE PROJECT/ BUDGET
Know exactly what you want and what the sponsor wants. Communication is key. You may have to compromise, but be wise, with some clever balancing and manipulating you will get what you want. The sponsor is your friend not your enemy.
You cannot change your mind halfway through the project. Nothing makes the sponsor madder than changing the concept, the task you have agreed to do. It is binding and you have signed the contract. If one of your actors has measles, that is unfortunate, postpone the due date and make your agreement happen no matter what. Do not cancel or you will lose all your money.
NEVER NEVER NEVER change the budget and NEVER NEVER NEVER ask for more money. You will lose all credibility, as a serious professional artist if you ask for more money – what you asked for is what is agreed and is what you get. Your reputation will be ruined. Namibia is small; our pot of donors is small. Be careful.
2. DELIVER ON THE DAY YOU SAID YOU WOULD
Make sure you open on the day you say you will. Egg on your donors face is not a good idea when s/he has invited many VIPs to your show – deliver or be dammed.
At the end of the project, submit a great financial report and other interesting things that show how you made the project a success. Report on all the newspaper articles, social media, TV/radio – the numbers that attended the show, the feedback from the public. Anything that embraces the success of the project. In other words, assure the donors that their money was well spent. Your assurance that the project was worth it and every cent spent was worthwhile is very important. Also, ensure it was worthwhile for the participants and mostly worthwhile for the public. Your donor will be very happy with this report and you will be able to approach them again and again.
If you do all these things, I am pretty sure you will be a success.
I wish you well on all your endeavours.
It is an exciting day when you get lots of lovely money for your dream.