Before I gave it all up to become a writer, I led the glamorous life of a professional fundraiser. Along the way I learned a few secrets of the trade. I became familiar with the slimy underbelly of fundraising practice that keeps our email inboxes flooded with trickster subject lines and our physical mailboxes crammed with the corpses of trees. Fundraisers perpetuate this irritating behavior for one reason: because it works.
How do professional fundraisers know certain strategies work while others don’t? Statistics and studies. And commissions. And conferences. Lots of conferences. In which they share fundraising wisdom. Best practices, etcetera. Over shots of whisky in the hotel bar.
So when it was suggested to me that maybe we should offer memberships with or without a donation, you can imagine how the professional fundraiser inside me responded. She had to sit down for a minute. Creating a membership level called “free,” after all, is directly counterproductive to the whole damn point of fundraising. For this we don’t need to commission a study. No stats necessary, thanks. No conferences, no whisky.
Upon this suggestion, conversation ensued. From this conversation, a decision was made that His Place in Provence would commission a study. Which was to begin immediately. After a brief and wildly unscientific process that involved of a few of us sitting around a table (there may or may not have been whisky) and talking it over, we can announce our shocking results: friends are more important than money.
Therefore we are initiating a new membership level. The kind where you don’t pay.
Bottom line is that we need your community as much as we need your cash. We are creating a residence for artists and writers but we are also creating a movement. As we building an organization, we also build political power. When we approach the French Ministry of Culture in September, we need to show them a strong base of support. A robust membership is an important part of that strategy.
So consider the cash optional and join us, today. Do bring some whisky to share, though. We can’t really afford it anymore.
PS: Seriously, though: this isn’t to say we don’t need your donations, too. The start-up phase accomplishes the organization-building groundwork that needs to get done if we intend to succeed. Your generosity makes this happen.