Last year, the NYC Gay Men’s Chorus transformed its $9K fundraising drive into a $40K runaway success. This year’s was even more amazing: $50K plus a $10K match! And even more importantly, the basses won again! :)
The 25% jump was largely thanks to a handful of singers who went way above and beyond. Last year’s winner raised $2,100. This year, 4 people broke that record, with the top fundraiser bringing in $4,000.
One of those extraordinary fundraisers, Simon (raised over $3,600 from 47 supporters), is also a new member of the chorus. Here are some of the secrets to his success:
“I wasn't going to do the fundraising drive at all since I was new to the chorus, but then I realized that being involved is what it’s all about. Sometimes the hardest part of life is showing up, but once I am involved in something, I often surprise myself with how much I can actually achieve.”
2. Don’t make assumptions
“I got some donations from some really unexpected sources, and it made me realize how many people I had decided in my own head couldn't or wouldn't donate. I was saying ‘no’ for them before they even got a chance to, so I stopped doing that and started asking (almost) everyone. Of course, there needs to be a little bit of sensitivity, but people do like and want to be involved, and many smaller donations soon add up.”
3. Make it personal
“I sent out general fundraising posts on my Facebook page and got a few great and even unexpected donations. However, the bulk of them came from people I contacted directly. The people I hang out with regularly were some of the first to donate because they recognized it was important to me. So, when I saw people on messenger or chat, I would say ‘hi’ and check-in with them, and by the end of the conversation would have added the link to my fundraising page.
People like to feel involved, even in a small way, and every donation helped. I always made sure I would personally message or email anyone who donated to say ‘thank you’ because I really was grateful.”
4. Be persistent
“If someone said they would donate, I would get back on them every couple of days if they hadn't. Some people enjoyed the pitbull attitude, some paid up just to make me go away. If by around the 3rd reminder they hadn't paid up, I'd leave it and let the general posts do the reminder.
I tried to keep it light and funny when nagging people and also be sensitive to their responses. It's not about bullying money from people and it is certainly not in the spirit of the organization to make people feel uncomfortable, but people have busy lives and making a donation is easily forgotten as it isn't necessarily high up on their job list. So a bit of nudging helped along the way.”
5. Get competitive
“I set myself little hurdles to reach, like: 'If I get another $50 I'll be in the top 5 new members' and then '$100 and I'll be in the top 3 in the whole chorus!' Fortunately, the guy who was the highest fundraiser overall for a lot of the drive is someone I am friendly with, so it created some banter between us and spurred us both on to raise more and more.
I also sent a specific email out to a group I am close with and who I knew would be competitive on my behalf. They enjoyed seeing me clamber up the list of fundraisers as much as I did. I think as long as you keep it fun and friendly and laugh at yourself a bit as you do it, then a bit of competition spurs you to find new people to ask (for example, colleagues from my old office in London were a great untapped source of donations).
In the end, I was beaten to that final top position, but it wasn't important as I hadn't taken the competitive side of myself too seriously and because I believed in the cause.”
Jacob is the founder of Chorus Connection and a proud member of the NYC Gay Men’s Chorus. A lifelong choir geek and tech geek, he loves marrying his passions to help community choruses run more efficiently. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!