Building a Philanthropic Community Through Music

Posted by Jessie Heimann on

According to Maya Angelou, “Giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

While some may argue that we live in a selfie-obsessed culture, there are folks out there putting their money where their mouth is – and doing some serious soul liberating.

“Informed, committed, innovative and engaged, Generation X and Generation Y philanthropists are quickly changing the world of charitable giving,” The Economist reported in September 2014. “Gen-X and Gen-Y philanthropists remain united by a combination of factors: an increasingly global mindset, an active engagement in giving and a strong desire to have a measurable, enduring impact.”

Nonprofit organizations like PBS39 are beginning to see that, while the younger crowd may not have the wealth of their parents, they are committed to supporting projects to which they have an emotional connection.

Rewind a few years – or decades, for some – to high school, where emotional connections run high. Former athletes relive their glory days, prom queens still feel the weight of their coveted crowns, and members of the marching band recount afternoons spent mastering music and field formations.

Inspired by what he saw during a football game, PBS39 director Javier Diaz thought the Liberty High School Grenadier Band would make a visually stunning subject for a documentary.

In general, documentaries are an expensive undertaking. This one will be no different, especially with the added costs of acquiring historical footage of the Band’s performances. Should the presumably high production costs prevent the project from getting off the ground? Maybe not, if enough committed, actively-engaged people pool their resources to make it a reality.

Relying on the community’s emotional connection to the Band, PBS39 launched a crowdfunding campaign on March 13. What is crowdfunding, you ask? It’s the practice of funding a project by raising money from a large group of people, usually through the internet.

The fundraising site, located on indiegogo.com, keeps track of donations and lets visitors know exactly how much money has been raised. The entire project will cost approximately $80,000, and PBS39 is hoping the crowdfunding site will raise $20,000 to cover pre-production costs.

Hallmarks of crowdfunding are the “perks.” (Even though the Gen-X and Gen-Y philanthropists are setting out to make an impact with their financial contributions, they still like to tote around cool swag!) Perks for the Liberty HS Grenadier Band documentary project include a keepsake photo of the Band, a DVD copy of the finished product, invitations to the premiere party and more.

In Their Own Words
In addition to financial contributions, PBS39 also seeks the community’s input. A special email address – libertydoc@wlvt.org – was created for people to share their Band stories. Already, the project has struck a chord with the Band’s alumni.

Mark Wasem, Class of 2002, described the band to us as, “Second to none.”

Christopher Cope, Class of 1991, said, “LHSGB was my family for four years, and fostered relationships and friendships that have lasted over 20 years. I am truly grateful for the opportunities the band has presented to me through frequent travel, representing my school and community, and understanding honor and pride through musicianship. Ironically, you can ask most band members to list five things they like most about LHSGB, and playing an instrument would probably be last on their list.”

Eileen Christman, Class of 1976, said, “Often imitated, never duplicated.”

With the outpouring of support we've already received for the Liberty High School Grenadier Band documentary, it is clear the Band community wishes to have a “measurable, enduring impact.”

The pre-production fundraising campaign will continue through spring, and a production campaign will kick off this fall. Watch for the documentary to premiere next year.

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