Become Your Own Gatekeeper

We’re going to take a cue for public radio today and perform a few variations on their more successful pledge drive themes to help promote the Orchestra 990 Database Project’s Kickstarter campaign.

I’m a big believer in self-identification and there’s no single way to universally appeal to a mass audience; instead, focusing on a multi-approach angle will produce far better results. So to that end, you can expect a series of fundraising posts over the next 35 days (or until the campaign goal is reached) highlighting one or more methods inspired by June Thomas’ excellent 2009 article in Slate Magazine on the topic of public radio pledge drives.

Today’s Appeal Is About Empowerment: Become Your Own Gatekeeper

Historically, the realm of project funding such as this has been limited to private philanthropic foundations alongside financially influential individuals; meaning, if classical music supporters and stakeholders want to learn about the field, they are restricted to whatever the foundation gatekeepers deemed fit for consumption. If transparency and fiscal accountability are important to you but not to them, you’re out of luck; go out and make a hundred million dollars or so and start your own foundation you patron upstart!


Fortunately, this is a brave new world, no longer do you need to meander as a sheep to the foundation sheepherder principles. You don’t need anyone to tell you which information is important or why. You don’t need a database or report to be geared toward hyper niche ultra-users. Does it matter how you use the database? Of course not, what matters is just how special it is to have the intellectual curiosity to explore, regardless the reason. Over time, journeys such as these produce better informed patrons and stakeholders capable of helping the field go beyond what it once believed were limits to its own potential.

Think of it this way, do you need program notes to tell you what to think or feel when you go to a concert or which bits of info are worth making the editor’s cut? I think we all know the answer and thankfully, you have your smartphone handy to Google more about a composer, the performers, or the piece you’re going to hear.

So why not apply those same principles outside of the concert hall? Do more than just sit in your seat and experience the music the way someone else told you, be your own gatekeeper and actively support the Orchestra 990 Database Project by becoming a backer if you haven’t done so already. If you have, you can always increase your pledge, which is exactly what several other backers have already done!

You can give as little as $1.00 and rewards begin at the $5.00 pledge level but we know there are truly exceptional people out there just waiting to become one of the first $5,000+ pledges. Together we can push the pledge tally to the 25 percent mark by the end of the weekend!

Making your pledge only takes moments and when you’re done, you can share it on Facebook and Twitter so all of your friends will be reminded of just how smart you are, then follow you by becoming the next backer of a bold idea.

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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