This weekâ€™s blog is meant to take you, dear readers, over to the dark side of nonprofit marketing. Thatâ€™s rightâ€”there is a dark side, despite the sunny Facebook posts, tweets, and newspaper articles, the brightly colored posters around town, and the high-energy e-newsletters. That dark side is ruled by the once-noble-but-currently-serving-the-forces-of-evil-more-machine-than-man villains of the nonprofit marketing world: fundraisers.
This is a fundraiser when you’re looking. Yes, this is actually a fundraiser.
This is a fundraiser when you’re not looking.
When you hear the word fundraiser, what do you think of? A silent auction, perhaps. A classy gala in some upscale hotel. Those ceaseless NPR phonathons, ridiculous celebrity dinners, or perhaps a few rounds of poker. They seem glamorous, fun, or at least worthy causes, and most of them are, but under this impressive outer shell lurks a potential enemy, one that only those select few who help plan and implement the fundraiser are privy to. I have to admit, in my contact with the Art Center’s latest fundraiser, more than once I’ve had to fight the feeling of an invisible hand clenching my throat, of a mechanical sort of exhaling right over my shoulder.
How did this poor innocent marketing director come to be filled with such vague and imminent terror, you may be asking. The answer lies in the fact that I started my job here just under a month and a half before one of the Arts Center’s biggest fundraisers. One could almost argue that my entire existence as the Arts Center’s marketing director has been dominated by a looming presence, one that is both powerful and mysterious, unknowable but vaguely familiar, one that might even be related to me but unable to tell me because of ties to an evil empire and other complications of space and time…
My own personal Darth Vader: the Dantastic Race!
In all seriousness, Dantastic Race has been a huge part of my formative development as a Marketing Director. Now, only about a week away, the entire staff at the Arts Center is in full-on Dantastic mode; most of our working days are consumed with planning, implementing, and at the very least, fretting about every imaginable detail of the race, from planning the course and recruiting volunteers, to finding a sponsor, acquiring miniature cowboy hats (yes, itâ€™s happening!), or making sure a logo is centered on a flyer.
Me and Sisyphus have a lot in common these days,
and it’s not our extremely sculpted physiques.
For fear that you may be feeling like a C3P0 who has to listen to a young Luke Skymarketer complain about how hard life is on Tattooine, I won’t delve any further into the sometimes maddening tasks involved in planning, creating, and implementing a nonprofit fundraiser. I do hope that this small foray into the dark side of fundraising has given people on the outside of the process a bit more appreciation for the events happening in their communities, though! All around tiny little Danville there are countless numbers of nonprofit padawans like myself, struggling to learn the ways of the Marketing and Event-Planning Force. Now, after these few frantic weeks of honing my Jedi marketing skills, I’m ready to seek out and confront the thing that made me who I am–the Darthtastic Race! Here’s hoping I don’t have to lose my arm, get electrocuted, or evacuate an imploding star destroyer in the process.