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Door-to-Door Fundraising

Participants in the Door to Door campaign

Readers! Hello there – my name is Shelby Morrison and I’m currently the Marketing and Communications Manager for Raw Art Works in Lynn, MA. RAW is a community based youth arts nonprofit led by art therapists with the mission to ignite the desire to create and the confidence to succeed in underserved youth. In short, our kids use a wide variety of materials and media to communicate “what’s really goin’ on” in their lives.

To paint a quick portrait of the landscape, RAW is located in downtown Lynn, a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse city with a bustling population of 87,000. Despite Lynn’s ocean front location just nine miles north of Boston, the city struggles economically compared to its affluent neighboring towns. Lynn’s crime, poverty, teen birth and high school dropout rates are more than twice the state average. There are over thirty gangs in Lynn that are actively recruiting youth as young as elementary school.

As a nonprofit, our sustainability lies in successful fundraising, and for us, successful fundraising lies in the storytelling of our kids art and the emotional connection our donors make to those stories.

Sounds simple – get folks in the door, wow them with the art (it’s fantastic, check it out here), and before you know it, our budget projections are met and we carry on making art and raising kids at RAW to be successful, self-sufficient adults. If only!

How do we drag folks out to downtown Lynn, where they may be a little nervous to park their car and a little wary of walking by themselves at night? We bring the art to them, duh!

In 2007, at the end of our capital campaign and with $100,000 left to reach goal, RAW needed a creative and innovative solution to reach new donors. If it wasn’t creative or innovative, then it wasn’t going to be a solution.

Our development team had already put the usual campaign materials together: neatly printed booklets that detailed the story of RAW and the need for our own home, a heart-string tugging video, postcards, e-newsletters, and a crafty tagline (“Believing is Building”) to complete the campaign. But these pieces only reached so far and deep, we needed a solution that was truly innovative – and to us, an innovative solution meant it was sustainable, organic, and engaging for both the audience and producer.

Simply put, we created a project called “Door to Door”, where our high school students and some alumni took painted hollow core doors, loaded them up into our kooky painted van, and delivered them to the front doors of homes in neighboring, more affluent communities with the message of “Help us open a door for youth.”

Come back to ARTSblog on Thursday for lessons learned from our “Door to Door” campaign.

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