Sunday, June 3, 2012

56 Days to Edinburgh...Donations make me cry

Me and my sunflower painting...wearing my "money goggles"

My horoscope this week (according to my favorite, Rob Brezny): "Have you been feeling a warm fuzzy feeling in your money chakra? I hope so. The cosmos recently authorized you to receive a fresh flow of what we might call financial kundalini. Your insight into money maters should be increasing, as well as your ability to attract the information and influences you need..." 

1. Donations make me cry
 On Friday, May 25, I was sitting at my desk, staring at my online fundraising campaign with Fractured Atlas and I was worried. The total seemed stuck at $6,650 with a ultimate goal of $12,000 looming over me by midnight, May 31. I was worried. I'd been putting out personal "asks" like crazy, deciding that I would not do any group emails to ask for money and that I would only post on Facebook as I got close to the next big mark.  One by one I've sent requests...an email or letter that explains how I'm taking my one-woman show to Edinburgh, Scotland and would they be willing to help.

Working on email or something else, I think came back to the site...worried.  I pushed "refresh".  $7,150.  $7,150!  Just like that. $500. I checked the list of supporters -- none other than my best friend, Ashley. I burst into tears. I called her and left a teary voicemail, "You were only supposed to give me $30...but I'm really glad you gave me $500." I was a little bit of a mess. It wasn't the first time I'd cried since I launched the campaign months ago, and it wasn't the last.  I cried when a wonderful lady came up to me at her party and said, "I'd like to give you $1,000 for your trip."  I cried when an anonymous donor gave me $120 after a very long day of work and I was just trying to get over the goal so I could go to bed.   I've cried over $30 donations because they were so quick...just minutes after I sent them a message on Facebook, they did it.  I would get emotional when I saw a donation come through with a message like, "You go girl.  And don't try to write me a thank you note.  You don't have time!  Just go kick ass.  That's all I ask."

I didn't feel comfortable asking for more than $30, and so many of my friends stopped what they were doing and went and got their wallets and filled out the online form and pushed "yes" and ok and 10-4 or whatever and each donation has taken me closer to this huge Edinburgh endeavor. One friend I felt comfortable asking for more money (lucky him), and he said yes. I tried not to, but as we talked, he said, "I like you.  You got through me poetry class."  I cried. 

 2. The Dirty Barbie Telethon...good friends are everything 
On Tuesday, May 29, I was sitting at my desk, staring at my online fundraising campaign and I was worried. The total was stuck at $8,860. There were two days until the online campaign was ending. I had gotten two big check pledges.  Those were in the mail, but that I was still running about $1,500 short. I decided that I had to do an old school telethon the next night. Some kind-of call-in, get so silly that they can't help but help you. I texted my two producers, Will and Ray..."Can either of you come to the cottage on Wednesday from 8-midnight and help me raise $1000 in a telethon?" They both wrote back "Yes." My friend, Jen Downey, and her husband, Matt Rohdie, came to help. Ray wrote and said he was going to set up a channel so that we could have live video streaming

After meeting with clients and other wellness teaching obligations, I had two hours before the telethon. I'd barely had a chance to tell anyone about it, much less plan what it would be. I went home and grabbed every bizarre prop I had (goggles, wigs, shoes, hats, puppets) and I tried to find something valuable to give away.  All I could come up with was this simple sunflower painting that I'd done in San Antonio last summer and my "Miss Catawba" trophy that I'd won in 1995 at Catawba College. That's all I had to offer as giveaways. Then I went and got chips, beer and wheat thins to feed my crew. 

Jen Downey in her cap asks politely for money...Matt Rohdie works on the fundraising "thermometer"

3. The long wait... 
The first half-hour, nothing happened. We were calling people and posting on Facebook and breaking each goal down into smaller parts. I was getting paranoid and worried. Matt Rohdie stayed positive and started offering to give away donuts (he owns Carpe Donut). Matt and Will were making their cell phones ring to sound like people were calling in.  Then a $500 donation came in from a good friend from high school.  Boo-yow!  Hot damn.  That was a magic donation.  Then a few people gave $30. Then a friend of one of the producers gave $100. Then my friend's husband's business donated $200. They my friend's mom called me from Cleveland to make a pledge. We were off! Taking pledges and doing interviews and trying to give away that damn painting.  Before we knew it, it was midnight...right when a pledge from my dear friend, Kat Geitner, came in for $200 which took us to $1200 for the evening.   

4. The big wrap up... 
On Friday, June 1, I was sitting on my desk and doing the numbers: we were at $11,625 even if the online total looked lower.  I was moved.  Not really weepy.  I was excited, but not relaxed.  It had been a long time since the campaign launched and I waited for that very first donation (thank you Kim Beard).  Now...three days since my campaign ended and people are still contacting me and saying that they want to give.  I don't want to cry now.  I'm pumped.  Something has switched.  Not only am I switching now out of raising money but into earning money, but I'm inspired by all this generosity.  I actually still in need of a few things to make this trip happen, so I'm crafting a "Dirty Barbie Wish List" campaign that should launch this week through my fiscal sponsorship. I'll have this link to share with those are interested in helping the next big step of this show and helping my team to have an incredible trip.

Someone came up tonight and said, "We were following your telethon the other night.  We're coming to your hot shit benefit on June 23."  Yes.  The benefit.  Fancy pants food and the first time the Dirty Barbie t-shirts will be on sale, and I've promised a whole new set of material after intermission and there are going to be lots of fancy pants food and great wine and well...the work presses on.     

Thanks to all the friends and strangers who've donated.  Thanks to those who are planning to come to one of the upcoming shows in Charlottesville, New York City, Washington, DC or Edinburgh, Scotland.  Thanks to those that are sending friends.  I think you know what it means to me, but your time and interest and enthusiasm...your feelings about the show give me courage and excitement. Your money is giving me possibilities.  How can it be that another performer, Peter Michael Marino, who is working his ass off to get his show, Desperately Seeking the Exit, over there, had time to follow my telethon and donate and tell me congrats.  I feel for this CANDIDA show that's just getting started on raising $29,000 to take their show to the Fringe Fest.  I really identify with Kristina Wong's show that just completed their 16,000 goal to take her one-woman show to Edinburgh.  Crowdfunding provides chances for people to take on projects that might require more formal funding to succeed, and formal funding is much harder to come by these days.  We're all thankful for your "go girl", for your pledge, for your financial kundalini.  

Tomorrow: Tickets, tickets, tickets...