On the heels of my recent decision to devote my artistic energy to the proliferation of indie theatre, I have found a new manifesto, and I cannot get it out of my head. Which means I have to try and get it in yours. Written by New York non-profit fundraiser/blogger Sasha Dichter and inspired by übermarketer Seth Godin, it is entitled I’m sick of apologizing for being in charge of raising money. In it Sacha propounds a set of ideas whose time has come, now more than ever, if you consider the world we live in to be in desparate need of art and its ability to communicate ideas directly into the central nervous system. Some talking points from the manifesto…
Look around you at great leaders who you know or respect. What do they spend their time doing? They are infused with drive, passion, vision, commitment, and energy. They walk through the world dissatisfied with the status quo. They talk to anyone who will listen about the change they want to see the world. And they build a team and an organization that is empowered to make that change.
How good is your idea? How important is your cause? Important enough that you’ve given up another life to lead this life. You’ve given up another job, another steady paycheck, another bigger paycheck to do this all day long, every day, for years if not for decades, to make a change in the world and to right a wrong.
You’re devoting your life, your spirit, your energy, your faith into making the vision you have of a better future into a reality […] So why are you so scared to ask people for money? Why do you feel afraid to say: “This problem is so important and so urgent that it is worth your time and your money to fix it. I’m devoting my whole life to fixing this problem. I’m asking you to devote some of your resources to my life’s work too.”
People think that storytelling is a gift, not a skill. Learning how to do this – to be an effective storyteller, to consistently connect with different people from different walks of life and convince them to see the world as you do and walk with you to a better future – is hard, but it’s a skill like any other. It’s true that some people are born with it. But it still can be learned and practiced, and if your nonprofit is going to succeed, you’d better have more than one or two people who can pull this off.
Of course your programs or investments are real work. But so is evangelizing, communicating, sharing, convincing, cajoling, and arm-twisting. So are videos and images and stories and ideas […] If your ideas and programs and people and vision are so great, shouldn’t people be willing to reach into their pockets and fund them? If it’s worth spending your life doing this work, shouldn’t you or someone in your organization be able to convince someone else that the work is worth supporting?
Can I get an amen. Sacha’s salient point that rings the bells with me in this essay – outside of the one about being proud of asking for funding for your art – is the need, the real, honest-to-goodness need for all of us artists to get better at talking about what we do in a clear, proud voice all the time. This is the best marketing we can do for ourselves as a community, to legitimize it and push it further into the consciousness of the uninitiated. This manifesto is talking about a change in how we exist in our city, about becoming a force. One to be reckoned with.
Read the full text of the manifesto here, and pass it on if it resonates with you. I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on it in the comments as well. The revolution starts with proclamations like these…