VOL. 131 | NO. 252 | Tuesday, December 20, 2016
FUNdraising Good Times
Pearl and Mel Shaw
Friendraising: Two Examples of Success
BY MEL AND PEARL SHAW
As the year comes to an end, many of us are fortunate to receive invitations to events large and small. With Hanukkah falling on Dec. 24 there will be simultaneous celebrating by Jews and Christians this year. And even more will celebrate the New Year. Some events are family parties, work gatherings or faith celebrations. Others are fundraisers or “friendraisers” for nonprofit organizations or institutions.
Last weekend we attended two events that were examples of nonprofits “doing it right.” We share these with you as inspiration for how to grow the network of people who really “feel” your organization.
On Saturday night we joined friends, colleagues and even more people we didn’t know at a house party. We were the guests of Prizm Ensemble and were treated to chamber music – and Christmas classics – performed by a diverse group of young classically trained musicians. We were enthralled and listened closely. At the end a young violinist exclaimed: “I never played that well before.” That added to our joy.
We were also treated to delicious foods, intoxicating drinks and welcoming remarks from the board chair and co-founders. We learned of the many new activities the ensemble has taken on, the new funders who are providing additional support, and changes in personnel. The remarks were personal – like a toast at a family dinner. We were treated as family and reminded that the ensemble began as a family affair with husband and wife team Lecolion and Carina Washington setting out to “build a diverse community through chamber music education, youth development, and performance.”
That was 2005 and now at the end of 2016 they are growing by leaps and bounds.
Sunday night we were at the newly reopened Clayborn Temple. You may know of Clayborn Temple as the African Methodist Episcopal church that was home to civil rights organizing in the ’60s, including the sanitation workers strike that drew Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis in April 1968.
Restoration of this church is beginning and we were treated to “A Gospel According to Jazz” Christmas concert. We enjoyed fabulous performances by Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum, guitarist Norman Brown, pianist Keiko Matsui, and special guests Kevin Whalum, John Stoddart and Shalea.
Like Prizm Ensemble, the restoration of Clayborn Temple is a project that began because people saw a challenge and came together to meet it. It is a community effort known as Clayborn Reborn. Led by Rob Thompson and Frank Smith, they have stabilized the building and are inviting the community to envision how it could come back to life. The Christmas concert was an opportunity to feel what it could be like if the building were fully restored and a community hub.
While we gave a donation at one event and purchased tickets for the other, both built community, allowing participants a firsthand experience of what can be. Both exposed us to the passion and dreams that drive these projects and extend beyond the arts and into our hearts.
Mel and Pearl Shaw, owners of fundraising consultancy firm Saad&Shaw, can be reached at 901-522-8727 or saadandshaw.com.