Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Is Everyone a Fundraiser?

I often hear in the non-profit world that "everyone is a fundraiser." As an arts administrator whose primary responsibility is arts education, I sometimes struggle with this notion.  I am paid to come to work everyday and fulfill a mission: To provide educational opportunities in the performing arts for children, adults and seniors that enrich their lives.  Usually this means producing free concerts in schools and community centers, coordinating logistics for summer arts camps, finding opportunities for our student artists to perform at high profile events, and similar things like that.  My official job isn't to fundraise, but to fulfill a mission with the funds that are raised by my friends over in the development department.

That doesn't mean I shouldn't help when I can.  After all, "Millionaire X" is paying my salary - shouldn't I help the fundraisers as much as I can?  Yes and no.  This is a tricky balance, because without education, successful marketing efforts and programming, the fundraisers would have nothing upon which to make the ask.  Without the money, everyone else is out of a job.

The point here is that a healthy non-profit is an ecosystem not a hierarchy.  Each "animal" has its role in the kingdom and when they all fulfill their roles, a healthy balance is achieved.  If the honeybee decides to do the lion's job and hunt meerkats, then who will pollinate the plants which create oxygen for everyone else?  It's my job as an arts administrator to overachieve in my role in the ecosystem. Then, when I know there is enough oxygen, I'll go after the occasional millionaire meerkat.

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