Adaptistration Exclusive: Free Fundraising Project At!

It all started with a friendly hockey game wager and ended up as way for one of Adaptistration’s 501(c)(3) readers to win a free fundraising project at, the premier online service that connects donors and charities to create a way for more informed and effective online fundraising. Thanks to a thrilling Chicago Blackhawks victory, one performing arts organization will be able to use Bring Light’s services absolutely free, meaning your group keeps 100% of every dollar raised. Better still, Bring Light’s ability to process online donations directly and willingness to provide copywriting and other marketing assistance means any budget size group can benefit…

bringlightI’ve been following Bring Light since it was launched and have been continuously struck at how the founder (also named Drew McManus – no relation, just coincidence) and his colleagues were able to design a service that harnessed the strengths of social networking sites like Facebook along with the sort of user friendly do-it-yourself promotion tools of Amazon Associates. Add to that complete control by the user over their fundraising campaigns and it isn’t difficult to see how Bring Light is in a position to be one of the most useful new resources for Development professionals to come along since the advent of mass mailing.

Bring Light will be an especially useful service for smaller to mid size budget organizations, those with limited staff, and those with no means for processing online credit card donations. At the same time, segments of large budget groups will be able to take advantage of Bring Light’s entrepreneurial minded fundraising tools. Better still, you don’t have to have an internet wonk on staff to create an effective fundraising campaign through Bring Light. Perhaps one of the most appealing elements of Bring Light is it is structured in such a way as to reward success and encourage experimentation.

Consequently, I was thrilled when Bring Light’s Drew offered up a free fundraising project in our sociable bet. Since this sort of fundraising might be unfamiliar to traditional performing arts groups, here are some suggested projects you can use to submit an application (although it’s limited only to your imagination so go wild!):

  • New copier for the music library (or the main office).
  • Instrument repair/maintenance (pianos don’t tune themselves).
  • Artistic overtime expenses related to a special project.
  • New music commission.
  • Music purchases/rentals.
  • Outreach to local private music teachers.
  • In-school education initiatives.
  • Set design.
  • Wig making and costume supplies.
  • Dance supplies (ballet slippers don’t grow on trees).
  • Vocal coaching.
  • Professional development (artistic and/or staff).
  • Stage hand equipment.
  • Recording project.
  • New media initiatives.
  • Internships.
  • Office equipment/furniture.
  • An very targeted advertising campaign.
  • Green office initiatives.
  • Marketing research.
  • Basically, any of the items normally disallowed in traditional grants but still need to be funded!

I know it’s hard to think outside of the confines of traditional grant applications but hopefully, you begin to see just how flexible Bring Light is and how much potential this opportunity provides. One of the real tricks in taking advantage of this opportunity is to learn how to convince donors that “keeping the light’s on” items are just as important to a cultural organization’s livelihood as everything else. It is an excellent opportunity to connect with new segments of your giving community and leverage the very real power of individual giving.

Need I say more?

How To Apply

No cover letters or jargon laden 500 word paragraphs; instead, let’s keep it simple and sane.

Just complete the form at the end of this post or send an email providing the responses to the form questions. Send along any supporting documents in an email or ship to my business address by the application deadline. These items can include anything from photos of the dilapidated equipment, recording of the out-of-tune piano, sketches of your ultimate advertising campaign, videos of the instrument dolly held together by duct tape, need I continue? The more creative the better and these extras will certainly improve your chances at getting selected (but they aren’t required).


Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 (two weeks from today). The recipient will be announced shortly thereafter.

Participation Requirements

The winning applicant must be a A current IRS 501(c)(3) public charity and willing to participate in a follow-up article examining their experience with Bring Light and how their project turned out. Furthermore, all materials included in applications may be used for subsequent articles (I’m envisioning some great submissions). Lastly, submitting an application indicates acceptance of these terms.

Online Application Form

Sorry, but the application period is now closed.

Thank you and good luck!

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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