SWAN Day – Sample Proposal

This is a sample fundraising proposal that you can adapt to send to local arts funders or individuals.  This sample is meant as a general guide.  Please feel free to use any or all of it or to change it around to suit your needs.  You need to insert your own information wherever you see the square brackets that look like this [ ].

If you are sending a fundraising letter to individuals, be sure to include a pledge form and a self-addressed envelope.  All the studies show that you get a much higher response rate if you include a return envelope. The return envelope does not need to be stamped.

The pledge form should ask for the donor’s name, address, email address, phone number, and gift amount. When someone makes a gift, you want to be sure to add them to your mailing list so that you can write to them next year. You need the pledge forms because you may not be able to get their contact information from their checks.  It is handy to have the gift amount on the pledge form in case you forget to write it down before you deposit the checks.  If you have a copier handy, it is a good idea to make a copy of the checks before you deposit them.

Keep in mind that it usually takes several interactions to persuade someone to give to you.  They may need to see a couple of shows, get your letter, and then get a phone call or other follow up.   Sometimes it takes several years before they start giving.  Don’t get discouraged, just be polite and keep writing to them if you think they are a good prospect.

If someone makes a gift, be sure to send them a thank you note! If the gift is tax deductible, they will need that letter to claim the deduction.

Good luck!  Please contact us if you have further questions.  Our staff is small, but we try to respond to as many requests as we can.

Martha Richards

REQUEST: On Saturday, March 28, 2015, [our group] will be joining a world-wide celebration of women artists as part of the 8th International Support Women Artists Now Day (SWAN Day).  The goals of SWAN Day are to raise visibility and raise funds for women artists. It offers a powerful new way to put the spotlight on women’s cultural contributions during the final weekend of Women’s History Month.  [Our group] is planning a [performance/concert/special event] for SWAN Day, and we need your help.

BACKGROUND ON SWAN DAY:  SWAN Day is facilitated by WomenArts (www.WomenArts.org), a non-profit arts service organization which is dedicated to helping women artists get the resources they need to do their creative work.  Since its creation in 1995, WomenArts has raised over $5 million and built a website at www.WomenArts.org that offers networking, fundraising and advocacy services to over 500,000 visitors a year.

In the first seven years of this holiday, there have been over 1,200 SWAN events in 24 countries on 5 continents. SWAN Day has been officially recognized by the mayors of New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and several other cities. Women artists at all levels have been proud to participate in SWAN Day.  Isabel Allende, the award-winning novelist; Sandra Oh, a star of the hit television show ER and an acclaimed stage actress; and Famke Janssen, star of the X-Men movies, have all done online video endorsements of SWAN Day.

For SWAN Day 2015, each group is responsible for managing its own event, and WomenArts is providing free fundraising advice and sample marketing materials for SWAN events through its website and newsletters. WomenArts also maintains the official online SWAN Calendar where artists can post their SWAN events.

SWAN Day will give the members of [our group] an opportunity to showcase our work and to build our skills in fundraising and audience outreach with guidance from the experienced staff of WomenArts.

SWAN Day will also benefit our community as a whole by educating the public about local women artists.  One of the goals of SWAN Day is to get as many people as possible to take a pledge to see at least one work by a woman artist every month – whether it is a film, play, concert, exhibit, or other arts experience.  This will build audiences for our work and also give the community members an ongoing sense of involvement in the arts and a chance to learn about women’s perspectives on the world.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  [Insert a few paragraphs describing your project here.  Remember to be as specific as possible.  Start by saying exactly what the project is – i.e. “we are planning a two hour concert featuring five different women” or “we will present a full-length play by a woman artist.” Then talk about why you want to do that event and who you think will come. It is great if you can describe the audience you are trying to get ( What age group? What race? What social class? Men and women or just women?).  How will your event benefit your community?]

PROJECT BUDGET: [Insert another paragraph or two here telling them how much you need and what you will spend it on.  Tell them how much you have raised already and how much you still need.  Tell them your strategy for raising the remaining funds (for instance, “the five people on our steering committee have each agreed to raise $100 by asking for gifts of $10 – $25; we are approaching 50 people for gifts of $10 each.”).  Will the donor get anything in exchange for their gift? A program ad? Some free tickets? A tote bag? Your undying gratitude? If you are a non-profit organization, their gift may be tax deductible.  If you are asking for smaller amounts, the donors may not care about the tax deduction.]

SUMMARY:  A gift to support our SWAN Day event is an investment in both creativity and equality. By focusing attention on the work of women artists, SWAN Day will help people imagine what the world might be like if women’s art and perspectives were fully integrated into all of our lives.

We are excited about creating a SWAN Day event so that our community will be a part of this inspiring world-wide celebration of women artists.  Please give as generously as you can. Checks should be make payable to [our group] and mailed to [our address]. Gifts of any size will be greatly appreciated.   We have enclosed a pledge form and a self-addressed envelope for your convenience.

Thank you for your support.