Pitching a Music Festival Fundraiser: The Diversity of Community and Communication
Frank Murdoch has Master’s degrees in Social Work, Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling, and Vision Rehabilitation Therapy. He serves as vice president of a small local non-profit organization devoted to providing services to the physically disabled in the region of Lafayette, Louisiana. Their goal is to provide access to media that might not otherwise be available to those unable to read print materials. Murdoch, an avid comic book fan who lost his vision at the age of twenty-four, has a personal interest in this goal and can readily communicate the importance of the project.
The long-term fundraising goal is $10,000 over the next two years. In the short term, they hope to raise $3,000 to get started.
The group has held successful fundraisers in the past, but they have also experienced some fundraising disappointments, so it’s important that they get this one right. Murdoch plans to offer the board his own pitch for a music and cultural festival, dubbed “The Diversity of Community and Communication.” He likes the theme of diversity because the program addresses “the diverse ways in which to provide information to all of us equally.” The theme would allow him to “incorporate multiple things from the community to our advantage and still press our agenda: more inclusive inclusion of persons with disabilities into the community.”
Murdoch envisions an event showcasing a diversity of cultures, especially in regards to food and music. If his idea is approved by the organization, he will then pitch his idea to various sponsors.
“The first thing I’ll do,” he explains, “is pitch my idea about diversity and equality… then talk about the richness of diversity in the community appealing to their cultural backgrounds and appreciation for food.” He would also discuss how the proposed program could create “more access [for recipients] for everything from cultural awareness events to important governmental practices and then into their pockets: sales and advertising.”
To create a diversity of music, Murdoch would like to approach a diversity of artists. With help from others in the organization, he has complied a list of acts he hopes will agree to perform, including Acadian musician Nellie Harrington, indie group The Wooden Wings, classic rockers Strazza & Company, blues musician Dege Legg, rockabilly group The Howdies, Cajun rock and rap artist Michael Juan Nunez, zydeco groups Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha-Chas, Curley Taylor, and Rosie Ledet, and Southern Creole Blues group Henry Gray and the Cats. In addition, he hopes to showcase “an interactive act in between set-ups and breakdowns,” including belly dancers from long-time supporters, Desert Shadows, Oasis Bellydance Studio, and Trybe Habibi Bizarre.
In order to arrange for a prize draw, Murdoch wants to approach local restaurants, to showcase the diversity of food in the community including Cajun, Creole, Asian, Italian, Mexican, and Middle-eastern cuisine. He knows that many businesses “are happy to provide a thirty-dollar gift certificate to promote their restaurant at the gig,” and adds that he could further help his sponsors by providing them with additional publicity. If his pitch goes forward, “several weeks before [the event] people see four thousand fliers around the city and residential areas to inform people that there is going to be an event and who is sponsoring it.”
Murdoch advises those hoping to pitch a similar music festival to think about reaching the broadest possible audience. Of course, you want to create something new and different. Figure out who your crowd is, and then “appeal to that crowd’s mental and emotional aspects that will get them to help you out.”