Confessions of a Desperate Fundraiser

    Deep Thoughts from the Director June 5th, 2012 By Amy Saidman

    I’m about to say all the wrong things.  In the rule-book of fundraising, I am supposed to craft letters with lots of italicized phrases, bolded words, and

    stand-alone “calls-to-action.”

    I’m expected to be perky and positive, like Good Morning America, and the message should focus on the donor’s perspective of our impact and value.

    While it’s true that we are doing remarkably well with lots of great shows and education programs, big ideas, and a ton of energy, what I’d really like to do is have a moment of pure candor, from one small but spunky arts director to whoever you are taking the time to read this: I may drown in a river of my own vomit and tears if we do not have the money to renew the contract for our program coordinator, Sheri Macatangay.

    I love working for SpeakeasyDC and I’m lucky as hell, so this is not so much a complaint as a cry for help and a slice of perspective. Though SpeakeasyDC’s programs have more than tripled in the last 6 years, our staff has not. And it’s not hard to do the math. There is only so much SpeakeasyDC can do if we remain at the same staffing level – which is one. One full-time employee. That’s right, it’s just me.  We have incredible teachers and volunteers and a wonderful board and contract staff like our bookkeeper, videographer, photographer, and web designer, but it still doesn’t add up.  There’s simply too much to be done.

    We just hired Sheri on a part-time basis two months ago. She’s fantastic and excited to help move SpeakeasyDC forward. I already can’t remember how I survived without her.  But, as it stands, we can only afford to pay her through August 31, which is just cruel. To me.  I mean … ok, maybe it’s not good for Sheri, either, of course, but what I really care about (let’s be honest) is me. And I don’t think I can go back. Don’t make me go back to life without Sheri!

    It’s true that  there is a bigger picture and a greater goal. We will do great things with donor investments and continue to contribute to the quality of the lives of thousands of people.  All of that is lovely, but deep down, what I really want is to catch up on hours and hours of Hulu while Sheri does all my work.  Is that so wrong?

    My fingers are crossed that our fans will contribute to our Spring Campaign and help us reach our $5k goal by June 30.  The goal is modest, but it’s a step in the right direction towards long-term sustainability. Within five years, come hell-or-highwater, I’d like to see SpeakeasyDC properly staffed with our own classroom/office/rehearsal space, tours, a reserve fund, a weekly podcast (not just bi-weekly), recognition around the country (heck… the world!) and who knows what else.

    So, if you have any compassion… you’ll click here to donate.


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