We were recently caught off guard when Dr. Todd Robinson, a FUNdraising Good Times! reader, shared with us that he raised over $75,000 using information from this column. We had to learn more so we could share his story with you and inspire you to achieve your fundraising goals. We asked Robinson a few questions and with this two part series we share his story with you.
But first, a little background. Dr. Robinson is the son of Earnestine Rodgers Robinson, the renowned, barrier-breaking, classical composer. She has created her third oratorio “Exodus” which will have its world premier at Carnegie Hall in New York City on February 16th. An oratorio, is a large-scale musical work for orchestra and voices, usually based on scripture such as Handel’s Messiah.
The Exodus premier will include 200 choir members from across the country. And so the fundraising question arose: how will the choir members afford the travel and accommodations that accompany this great honor?
We asked Dr. Robinson to share his fundraising needs and goals.
“This started out as a “one-time” project. We needed to raise funds to underwrite the costs of bringing together a 200-member adult and children chorus from around the country for a performance at Carnegie Hall. The members of the choir were being recruited from schools, churches and community choirs. Since the recruitment was primarily “grassroots” in nature (and not some established symphonic choir), all those participating would be responsible for covering all of their costs without the benefit of corporate sponsorship. This meant that each individual would pay a required fee to the Carnegie Hall production company, plus airline travel and the expensive cost of living charges of Manhattan (taxis, food, hotel, etc). Of course, there were other costs outside of the chorus that we needed to cover.”
“Being ‘grassroots’ in nature, we knew that many choir members were dealing with modest budgets,” Robinson continued. “As a result, the dream of performing on the famed stage would be out of reach for most, especially the children. However, we wanted a multi-cultural choir with members with diverse, varied backgrounds. Therefore, it was our mission that we wanted to make this incredible opportunity a reality for every person who wanted to participate no matter their financial standing.”
The Robinson’s made a pledge to raise the $140,000 to $170,000 needed to make the dream a reality. This became both their mission and their challenge. And then Robinson recalled a FUNdraising Good Times! column that included a discussion of fundraising and creativity.
Next week: More about Dr. Robinson and how he raised $75,000+ without starting a nonprofit.
Visit www.earnestinerobinson.com for more information about the life and work of Earnestine Rodgers Robinson.
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.