My career in nonprofits began when I was 22, but my first fundraising effort happened when I was nine!
I cut a picture of Cassius Clay from Sports Illustrated, pasted it onto a shoebox, cut a slit, wrote with magic marker “HELP FIGHT SONNY LISTON,” and went door to door collecting pennies, nickels, and dimes. (Cassius Clay went on to beat Sonny Liston in a legendary one minute fight and announced his name change to Muhammad Ali.)
I told my parents of my achievement, got sent to my room, and was told to decide to what charity I would send the $7.43 I had raised. From proud entrepreneur to punished fourth grader, I chose the only charity that advertised on TV: Radio Free Europe! (Radio Free Europe broadcast propaganda of democracy to people living under Communist rule in Europe.)
But for 43 years we at Mixed Blood have sought support for our mission and endeavors via direct mail, email, and eye-to-eye conversation. No advertising. Is that a problem? After all, Communism in Europe eventually came to an end and Mixed Blood hasn’t realized its mission yet. We seek the successful coexistence of peoples with differences and theater is our delivery system. Transform the American divide of us/them to one of we/we. Transform a culture of judgment to one of empathy.