I wasn’t fortunate enough to go to an Ivy League school, have rich parents, have an extended network of strong role models or even be raised in a suburban area. I came from a working class family, grew up in a small, isolated town and my role models did the best they could with what limited resources our community had.
When I was about 15, my mother pointed out a quality I didn’t know I had. “You’re extremely resourceful,” she said. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, but I went on to go-go dance my way through college and I figured it out.
In the couple decades that have passed since my mother uttered those words, I have learned that for me, survival is something of a game, an obstacle course, a series of challenges that I face daily and even welcome, to some extent. I’ve managed to find a way to hang onto my coveted Manhattan zip code for 10 years as a self-employed artist / performer, tour the world, drum up thousands in funding for my various projects, mentor friends and allies, receive major press in the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Out NY and more with no PR agent, and essentially get my hands on anything or anyone I want to.
It’s not the easy way to do things, and if I could do it over again, I might have tried to find a way to do it differently. I might have studied harder in school, or not run away at age 15. I might have listened to people who were older and wiser, I might have avoided certain choices and boyfriends.
But this is the path I’ve chosen, and if you happen to be on a jaunt that’s anything like mine, I’d love to offer 5 sisterly tips to you from my PDF, 101 Tips & Ideas To Bankroll Your Project (Or Your Life), An Unorthodox Guide To Fundraising.
1. Research philanthropic people and try to set up meetings with them. Do what you must to get their attention, but try to keep it classy. It’s always best to get an introduction through a friend, so use a website like LinkedIn or ProIMDB to see who you know in common. Note: Researching people is a lot like stalking, but for some reason it’s acceptable and even almost expected to some degree by today’s standards. So take advantage of this wonderful time in our history and Google everyone you know.
2. Do hash tag (#) searches on Twitter in regards to whatever your project is to find people who have a mutual interest. Twitter is one of my favorite research resources. While you’re on there, write a funny tweet about butts.3. Research local, national and international grants on the internet or at the library. You’d be floored at how many grants and opportunities there are for Americans overseas. The Blimeys love us, even if their delicious Marmite gives us American women yeast infections. MoCA Arts has an excellent $2,000 matching grant program that is not hard to qualify for. I qualified for it and I’m practically retarded. I know some people don’t think it’s funny or polite to say that word, but I’m using it medically.
4. Ask every person you meet about their projects and their goals, and find a collaborative way to work them into your project. This tip is both giving and selfish, which makes it both rewarding and sneaky.
5. Revisit old journals, an old rolodex, old cell phones or laptops, email address books, high school year books or employment contact sheets and get in touch with old friends. They might be really happy to hear from you, and you don’t know what they’re up to now. They could be a ship’s captain or the manager of a luxury mobile home emporium, and just swimming in loot. In general, maintaining relationships is important. Don’t let many months or years go by between reaching out to your contacts. Call your mom.
***If you have appreciated these tips and would like to read 96 more, get more Jessica Delfino here.