Last weekend I had the honor of participating on a panel at the orientation for the shows featured at the 2019 New York Musical Festival (NYMF). There will be 12 shows performing in repertoire. Click HERE to read about them. Writers and producers who have shows from Australia, the UK and all over the US were there to learn about the festival, make plans and hire staff. I talked about fundraising. Fundraising – ugh. This is a section of what I said:
Two years ago, I was sitting in the same seats as you are today. I know you are overwhelmed, confused and very scared. How am I going to raise this money? I don’t have that much money nor do I know people with money. That is what I thought as I listened to speaker after speaker tell me about the mechanics of NYMF and the procedures. But I was stuck on the money part.
But, let me say that NYMF changed my career and changed my life. It opened doors for me that would never have been opened otherwise. I met Broadway Bigwigs – producers, general managers, musical supervisors, performers and on and on. I was introduced to casting agents, theatre owners and even Seth Rudetsky. I learned about licensing, New York labor laws, handled union agreements and negotiated special contracts. I also met a great group of fellow producers and writers. The staff, patrons and board members at NYMF are dedicated, experienced and a lot of fun.
Here are my thoughts about how to raise the money you need.
- Gather your team. I learned that I could not raise the money myself, so I asked my Associate Producer, Tim O’Connell, to join the team, as well as our niece and a couple of other friends and supporters. These people were our core fundraisers. We then asked the entire show team (writers, actors, etc.) to join in helping us raise money.
- Identify the potential big donors. Your money will come in different groups. A few people will give you large gifts, a few more will give you smaller gifts and lots will give you little donations. But you must start with the big donors.
- Tell your story. You are selling yourself. Your donors are investing in YOU and your story. Your show is your story. Tell your story and make a compelling case why they will want to join you on this journey.
- Don’t give up. Even though you may hate fundraising, keep doing it. Make charts, talk about it to everyone, ask for their help. If you don’t make the ask, the answer will always be no. There are so many folks who want to help you, you just don’t know it yet.
Lots of people in the audience had questions, but mostly they were stunned. They had already learned about scheduling, staffing and ticketing, and now they had to listen and learn about one of the most important parts of NYMF or any production – raising money.
Again, it was quite an honor and I wish all the 2019 shows “Break a Leg.”