As the Associate Director of RG, fundraising is one of my main responsibilities. I was nervous in the weeks leading up to our fall fundraising campaign. Not only was it my first appeal, but we also decided to make significant changes to the process.
Yes, my first appeal and we decided to change things. Pretty silly, right? But after receiving feedback from our membership base and broader community, we decided it was important to ask everyone – current, renewing, and expired members – to contribute to RG. This would be a big shift from previous years where we only targeted members who were expiring or expired. We wanted to give everyone a chance to connect with a RG staff or board member about our work, because we care about and depend on that feedback. We also wanted to take the opportunity to personally thank our members for the time, energy, and resources they give to RG. As for our current members, we invited them to give a special gift during the appeal because we know that donating money is an opportunity for members to express their appreciation for and investment in this community.
Although we have always set internal goals for our fundraising appeals, this time we set a collective goal to generate shared energy around raising $100,000 and recruiting 50 new members. This year’s fall appeal became more than just a letter but a campaign where as a community we moved toward a shared goal together. And wow, RG family, you blew past those goals! As of December 31 we raised $221,591 and recruited 64 new members. Check out this “We Did It!” video for our heartfelt thanks.
I learned many lessons during the appeal, including: ask at least 3 different people to proofread (we almost sent out our mailer with the phrase “young people with weather” in it), how to leave compelling voicemails, and most importantly, the power of personal connection. Many people I spoke to shared how RG was the first space they found where they could bring their whole selves. I heard about the issues people were passionate about in their communities, and ways that RG can change to be more effective and inclusive. These conversations reminded me why I got involved with RG with the first place. Thank you to all of you who took the time to get on the phone and share your insights, feedback, and passion for this work.
One common question I want to address here: “Why should I give money to rich kids?” Great question! First of all, RG has always been a cross-class organization and our staff, board, and membership include people who identify as poor, working, and middle class. Currently 28% of our members are advocate/ally members, and about 72% of our members identify as young people with wealth or alumni. Your money supports a diverse organization to thrive. Secondly, supporting RG means increasing our capacity to organize young people with wealth to amplify their impact through giving, divesting, organizing their family members, and taking action in solidarity with organizations led by poor, working and middle class people. My involvement with RG has dramatically increased my giving, increased my confidence and ability to be “out” about my wealth with my community, helped me push my parents to give more, and has given me a political home where I receive support and challenge from others. This would not have been possible without RG programming and the support of RG staff.
Finally, asking RGers who identify as young people with wealth and class privilege to become members increases the power of our base and allows us to be sustained by our membership, instead of drawing from a limited pool of social justice funding. We’ve often found that RG membership dues set a baseline for giving and pushes members to give more to other social justice movement organizations. For me, giving my first $250 membership dues to RG was definitely a nudge to increase my giving to grassroots organizations led by poor, working, middle class folks and people of color.
A blog isn’t really enough space for me to outline the many reasons to give to RG. I also can’t effectively express the day to day excitement, emotion, and energy that went into this appeal. The stories we heard from all of our lovely members, the validation we received both financially and through conversation, and the confidence in our work and pride in our shared investment were so inspiring! We are doing important work, collectively, across race and class for all of us. If you want to know more or have any questions, call us. We are happy to talk about how RG can be a home for you.