This week the YearlyKos Convention organizing committee got into a debate, and as often happens in big tent progressive service organizations like ours, we have a bit of a (sigh) hung jury. So of course the logical next step is to go to y’all, our community, and ask what you think. Our problem is a typically controversial one among progressive circles, but maybe together we can compose a solution that works, at least for our progressive blogosphere community and our YearlyKos Convention project.
As usual, the problem is money. We are always uncomfortable talking about money. Maybe that is because someone is always asking for it (like we are now, in the middle of our first YK2007 fundraiser). Maybe it's because a lot of us are poor activists, and it makes us uncomfortable not being able to give (more) when asked. Maybe it is a "purity" issue, where we expect that people should give to good causes because it is the right thing to do, with warm feelings being reward enough for generosity. Or maybe it’s just a general sense of wanting to avoid the tackiness that comes with publicly discussing such things. In reality, though, no matter how we try to reduce this issue to its simplest form, the reasons are as multifaceted and complex as our community.
The particular money issue we are having today is how to recognize donors/investors. I could rant all day about how if we were conservatives, money would not even be an issue for organizations like ours. But as much as we all know that we are doing a good thing, we are still reduced to the humiliating task of begging, cajoling, guilting, and righteous indignation ranting for money. And with that, we need to, I don’t know what to call it, reward good behavior(?) from potential investors, because we need a heck of a lot more of that if we are going to pull off a convention that makes last year look like a bake sale.
If you notice, on our registration page we have multiple options for registration fees so that YKC2007 can fit into everyone’s budget while giving everyone the same access. We could avoid the whole fundraising mess entirely if we just charged the $600 per person it actually costs to put on a convention of this size in a world-class city like Chicago. But we don’t want to out-price anyone, and judging from the 1/3 of registrants who are choosing the discounted student/low income rate, there are a lot of people who would definitely not be able attend if we didn’t offer this option. But when choosing this option, our funding needs still remain the same, and it is left up to our intrepid volunteers and kind donors to make up that missing $500 in funding (two weeks of pathetic minimum wage level labor, if they were actually getting paid to do this work).
So, what we need to do is make it more attractive for those who can invest and pay more to do so, and one way to do that is by somehow recognizing their generosity .
How do we do this? Some of the suggestions explored by the committee were
- Placing a star or some other symbol on registration badges
- Including a ribbon (or something) with the registration badges so that donors who want to be recognized can choose to affix the ribbon, and those who would rather remain anonymous can do so
- Listing names in the program
- Not giving lower level registrants the same access as upper level registrants (booooooo!)
- Giving higher level registrants some kind of extra goodie
Really, we are not sure what to do here, so we are tossing it out to you. How do we encourage and recognize the generosity of higher-level registrants/investors without making people who can’t do more feel bad?
Let us know what you think in the comments below. Thanks!
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