Ryan Marano on reconnecting with local businesses and using social media to successfully fundraise
MATCH Lab recipient from 2018/19, Ryan Marano is an ever-curious performance maker, construction worker and emerging broadcaster.
His MATCH Lab campaign, Unbound aimed to raise $6,000 for his team’s theatre performance which subverted the oppressed role of women in Shakespeare’s plays, refocusing their stories as powerful and valuable narratives for today.
Ryan used our fundraising platform, The Australian Cultural Fund to raise 106% of his target and we matched his $6,000 request, dollar-for-dollar. We chatted with Ryan about his successful campaign and what advice he gives to first-time fundraisers.
Tell us why you applied for MATCH Lab and why matched funds were so important for your project.
We applied for MATCH Lab for many reasons. One, we wanted to be part of an established philanthropic entity with a proven track record. Two, we had the chance to double our fundraising efforts. Three, this doubling of financial gain would then allow us to be a much more attractive proposition to donors, we could say “your donation is having a much more significant impact on our campaign or more bang for your buck”.
What was your strategy for the campaign?
The main strategy behind the campaign was to reconnect and identify our local business network. Identifying business associates/friends who would be interested in contributing to our campaign.
This strategy was then activated and solidified with a crowdfunding launch party; where we invited all of our business associates/friends to mark the start of the campaign.
How did this strategy assist your fundraising campaign to stand out?
Having a crowdfunding launch was the perfect opportunity to engage one-on-one with potential donors in a very warm and fun environment.
We could also show and present what we were doing and why we care some much about Unbound. In our launch, we provided food & drinks, presented a selection of small speeches, performed a 10min dance piece, and then finished of the night with a charming speech by Bridget Le May, which acted as “the ask” for the night.
Asking is important.
During the whole campaign, we had to remind people. Also, Unbound was lucky because we were surrounded by a lot of supportive people. We had the support of the venue where Unbound is going to be made; The Mundaring Arts Centre allowed us to use Midland Junction Arts Centre (aka MJAC) Auditorium and its Foyer to host the crowdfunding event.
This was essential because then our donor’s could get a better idea of the project, and where all their contributions were going. Plus, MJAC is a beautiful heritage building, so it gave the night a great sense of occasion.
The event provided great energy for the campaign and excitement for the donors and the team as well. For all of our efforts, we raised 54% of our target with 50 days left of the campaign to go and all in the one night.
Tell us about your experience using the ACF as a fundraising platform.
In a word; simple. One of the great things about using the ACF as a crowdfunding platform is that you don’t have to worry about gifts or prizes for your donors. This crowdfunding platform’s draw is a simple, straight forward and very handy tax deduction.
However, in saying that, the platform itself has a simple display and quite a clean look. But the online platform does have restrictions when using it, messages from donors not being displayed to the public, which we would have prefered.
You had a long list of campaign supporters; how did you facilitate relationships with donors to achieve this high level of support?
We were lucky that the whole entire team behind Unbound were committed to the crowdfunding campaign 110%. So we had quite a large pool of contacts between the seven of us. A great way we kept in contact with our donors was by email and social media.
I couldn’t imagine doing a crowdfunding campaign before the internet. Thank goodness for the internet. We updated our crowdfunding page and social media activity with some scenes that we shot at MJAC. Like the little promo short films of some interesting texts from Shakespeare.
Producing content and progress ‘reports’ were a good way to keep in contact with donors.
You launched your MATCH Lab campaign with an event. Tell us how this experience supported your strategy and what were the outcomes?
Having a launch for the campaign gave a great sense of energy and purpose to our crowdfunding. It was a lot of work. I can’t even begin to imagine doing a crowdfunding campaign by yourself or with a small team.
I am very lucky to have a team who are so committed and possess experience and a lot of talent in hospitality. All the people who came to our crowdfunding campaign commented on what a lovely night it was and said that they’re really interested in the project. Although these people didn’t donate at the event, they did eventually become donors and donated towards the end of the campaign.
Not being a pest but trying to remind people to donate is the key because people do have very busy lives, and they forget. I would highly recommend doing a crowdfunding launch but be warned, it’s a lot of work.
You included an authentic campaign video in your campaign where you were able to clearly articulate your main messages. Any advice for creating an authentic ask?
If you’re truly passionate about the work of art you are about to make, then this should be an easy task.
A lot of what you have to say comes from the heart.
Don’t bore or intimidate people with fancy words or language that belongs in tertiary institutions.
Simply ask and speak with your gut. Don’t be shy. Every person has the right to make art, and that art is valid.
Also, I took strength from remembering the great artists of previous centuries, thinking of Mozart, Beethoven, Da Vinci, and Wagner. All these great artists had patrons and they all had to ask for patronage. I think crowdfunding is in most artists’ blood.
What is your one tip for anyone who is thinking about applying for MATCH Lab?
Crowdfunding is a team effort.
You need to gather your whole team and really understand that it’s not you (the individual artist) who is undertaking this great adventure but your entire group.
If you get all of your team on board then contacts, resources and brainpower will multiple quite significantly. Teamwork is the key.
To put it simply, if I wasn’t working with Gala Shevstov, Bridget Le May, Dana Nguyen, Kynan Hughes, Hannah Evelyn and Mararo Wangai, I would be stuffed.
Also, the Match Lab workshop gave me the chance to get to know the rest of the MATCH recipients from 2018/19. We became a close community and shared ideas and advice, which lead to us hosting our launch.