I ended up on Wikipedia’s site from a Google search, and clicked a giant blue link leading to Brandon Harris’s open letter to the public and damn, it’s pretty good, so good that I’m re-posting it here on my blog as an example of how to write a damn good fundraising letter (see at the end of this post).
Brandon Harris’s letter wailed on my heart strings, and so I’ve emptied my already empty pockets to support Wikipedia. Does this make me a sucker? Is Brandon pulling my leg? Our legs? Well, my head isn’t totally in the clouds, and I can sense the contemptuous and weary or downright bitter folks cringing at the computer screen, offended by the nerve or the cojones of this global force we know as Wikipedia, asking for donations from the public – the same public who has been economically bulldozed to an oblivion, including the arguably wealthy (dare I mention).
Global force or not, why shouldn’t Wikipedia ask the public for support when its the public that it serves? Did you ever use it? Many will not contribute to Wikipedia’s fundraiser simply due to the sentiment that somebody else will do it or the general thought that Wikipedia will be just fine because they are already a force, huge and influential. (The idea that someone else will donate because there are millions who use it reminds me of a point made in Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tippoing Point regarding The Power of Context to which I won’t go into details here – we could go off on a tangent later.)
Brandon’s letter appeals to me NOT because of a gullibility factor (which some may feel inclined to assert), but because I am a budding writer amidst a growing, grassroots fundraiser campaign called 500NAMES to which I recently donated and hope to see reach its fundraising goals. Like Wikipedia’s own Brandon Harris (a Programmer) lending his voice to raise awareness and funds for his cause and place of work, there is New York City’s own, Rock WILK who is fundraising too, but without global appeal, 113 names into his 500NAMES campaign with $3,740 raised in a little over a week. Rock WILK is working not only as a Playwright, Composer and Performer but also as a business man, engaging his audience and followers, and gaining the support needed to fund a commercial run of a fully produced show, his life’s work, BROKE WIDE OPEN, a musical, the true life story of his adoption and search for identity and home.
Two fundraisers, two totally different worlds, one shared purpose; to raise funds that will help sustain and make accessible something very valuable and meaningful to the public - I support both (Wikipedia for obvious reasons and 500NAMES because I support theater arts and the sharing of incredible true life stories). Whether grassroots or global, in the media or under a rock, if I use it, enjoy it, learn or grow from it why wouldn’t I consider supporting it? Why wouldn’t you?
Here’s Brandon’s letter that I thought was pretty damn good: