Nearly a decade ago Joanne Hill was like many of us. She had a desire to make a difference, but instead of thinking about it, she did it. Now Hill volunteers her time to dance, a segment of the arts that has always been cherished by the African-American community. She has submerged herself into the world of fundraising and her particular efforts breathe life into Evidence, A Dance Company.
Contributing to the arts, politics, or any particular foundation, by offering your resources — however large or small — is a very powerful tool that can change lives. What’s more? You don’t have to be a Rockefeller to make an impact. “Anyone can have a fundraiser,” says Hill, a nine-year supporter of Evidence, and now the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors. “Every amount that you raise for an organization is a benefit to them, particularly in the arts.”
Hill, who recently played a leading role in Evidence’s successful 9th annual “On Our Toes...” Hamptons summer benefit (thanks to Susan Taylor’s vision) describes part of her responsibility as a “give or get.” Board members are required to give and get a certain amount of money for the organization through ticket sales or personal contributions.
If the process still sounds daunting, Hill’s suggestion is to “dip your toe in the water” by volunteering at a favorite local organization that you think is interesting. “Sit on a committee at a community center in your neighborhood,” says Hill who also has supported the Dance Theatre of Harlem. “Have a cocktail party, invite your friends and ask them for a donation to support your charity. Tickets can range from $25 to $100, and you can potentially raise $1,000 for an organization. That’s a big deal.”
Events for political candidates, the arts, the community (Girls Scouts or Stop the Violence), health (breast cancer or Alzheimer’s awareness) and the environment (Save the Whales, ASPCA) are popular fundraising movements. Hill says to keep in mind that people may not be familiar with a particular cause, but they may have an affinity for a health or environmental issue and be willing to support your incentive.
Networking is key as well. “I may attempt to cultivate potential donors by giving them tickets to my event,” says Hill. “This introduces them to Evidence and to the audience that the group attracts. Think beyond only inviting wealthy people. That can be too narrow of a focus. Someone who purchases a ticket, as well as a major patron, are both very integral to our goal.”
Your personal contribution may be in the form of time or resources. Ultimately, people who are inspired by your crusade will be your best supporters. “It’s not a one, two, three, step process,” says Hill who volunteers her time, versus working for a salary. “If you love it enough to commit a chunk of your money to a cause, you want to encourage others to give it their all too.”