Tuesday, October 22, 2013

SHAWN RENÉ GRAHAM: Individual Giving Appeals Workshop Teacher

We recently asked SHAWN RENE GRAHAM, teacher of Individual Giving Appeals, and Artist Services Manager at The Field for her thoughts on how to stay resilient when asking for what you need as an artist:

"Well first:
Stop saying ‘I am not good at asking for money.’  Develop some techniques that make you better.

You can’t be afraid of ‘NO’ or take it personally.  You have to learn to move to the next prospect and not let the ‘NO’ be positive and not negative.  Maybe it just means you should re-examine your message or strategy, be clearer about who you are and what you are asking for exactly.

You need to examine your own inhibitions about asking.  Part of the work is understanding your own relationship to money and your own hang-ups.  We tend to project those onto other people, when what you think may not be true at all for the person you are asking.

Know that fundraising involves cultivation.  Learn something about your donors as individuals or funding sources other than the fact they have money to give and appeal to that.  If you are meeting one-on-one, show an interest in them that isn’t just about the money.  This means you may have to step up your game and do some research.  What appeals to that individual may not appeal to you in the same way, but you still need to engage them before saying ‘give me all your money.’

Click here to sign up for Individual Giving Appeals! 

Find other ways to get stuff that is not just monetary.  Maybe you can exchange skills with someone.  You provide something for someone and they help you develop marketing materials, or grant applications or whatever.  This is about surrounding yourself with people who do some things better than you and learning from them, but making the exchange fair."

Ms. Graham is a freelance writer and dramaturg from San Jose, California who has worked with many writers including, Kia Corthron, Nilo Cruz, Steve Harper, Eduardo Machado, Walter Mosley, Lynn Nottage, Suzan Lori Parks, John Henry Redwood, Guillermo Reyes, Paul Rudnick, Steve Harper, Susan Sontag, Dominic A. Taylor, Edwin Sanchez, Judy Tate, and Naomi Wallace.
She has been a guest dramaturg at the O'Neill Playwrights Conference, the Crossroads Theatre Company's Genesis Festival, the New Professional Theatre, and African American Women's New Play Festival and on many panels including, National Endowments for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Artist Grants Panel in Playwriting and the Mark Taper Forum's New Works Festival and is currently the resident dramaturg of The American Slavery Project's: Unheard Voices collaboration.

Ms. Graham has worked in dance, serving as dramaturg for The Errol Grimes Dance Group's RED, Mrs. Robeson in Moscow, Sunday Day, Prism to a Dream and By the Sea at the Henry Street Settlement's Harry De Jur Playhouse. She is the Producing Coordinator for the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Future Classics Series and Playwright’s Playground, and founder of All Creative Writes, an artistic assistance service designed to provide individual artists and performing arts organizations with administrative, fundraising and writing support.

Ms. Graham holds degrees from the California State University, Los Angeles and the American Repertory Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University. She lives in Harlem, NY.

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