The Treasure's Point of View
The Treasurer’s Point of View: A Two Part Perspective
I have never been the sea going type – I prefer a deck that’s anchored to the earth. But when I think of Thrasher Opera House I cannot help but to think of it as a “her.” I am her Treasurer and, like a ship’s first mate, I hold a deep sense of responsibility for her safety and her future. Though she is not in immediate danger, when times are tough I can’t help but to feel protective of her. I do my best to help steer her clear of obvious dangers and chart a safe course. When she is sailing along at a fast clip, I stand proud at her financial helm. Thrasher Opera House is gem in our midst and I am proud to be associated with her.
Thrasher Opera House is run by the non-profit that bears her name and which has operated the opera house since its beginnings in 1997. As her Treasurer and as a performer in the first event staged by the Green Lake County Players, I have a unique perspective. I’ve felt what it’s like to be on her stage. I know what a pleasure it is to be in the audience. And I am deeply immersed in the business of the opera house. She is a fine and sturdy craft (in keeping with the ship imagery) and we should all feel proud that she is anchored at our shores.
Thrasher elevates the esteem of those associated with her. She provides valuable family and cultural programming to a community otherwise lacking. And she brings added significance to the already fine reputation of Green Lake and the surrounding community. Additionally, Thrasher attracts customers to the community: her audiences eat at our restaurants, shop at our stores, and stay at our hotels. From Princeton to Markesan, Berlin to Ripon, we should all revel in our good fortune to have such a fine and accessible venue so close to home.
I have had the honor to serve on her Board of Directors for over five years, four and one-half as her treasurer. While already in our seventh year, it is a fledgling organization extremely dependent on individual donations. Still, Thrasher has established herself as a premier second tier alternative show house that brings in such top talents as George Winston, Eric Bibb, Terri Hendrix, and more together with a host of growing fans. The performers are fans, too, because of the amazing acoustics, intimate setting and lovely surrounds.
Because of your support – donations, volunteered hours, commitments – you’ve helped put a luster to a diamond that shines so brightly. School children who attend her performances smile because you are sponsors to her events. Because of your generous donations the building is owned by the non-profit. Thrasher plays host to almost 60 events a year now because of your attendance and appreciation. Your commitments are hard at work in your community. Nothing is taken for granted. We thank you for your support. Thank you in advance for your continued financial support. And I thank you for the opportunity to serve at her financial helm: the U. S. S. Thrasher Opera House. Toot-toot!
As the treasurer of Thrasher Opera House Corporation, the non-profit organization that has run the opera house since its beginnings in 1997, I more often get wrapped up in the “how to get it” decision process than the “how to spend it.” Asking for money has never really been my strong suit (although don’t ask my banker – but that’s another story). That is why I thought this venue would be such a safe “soft sell” approach.
There are a variety of emotions that come into play when strategizing fundraising tactics: pride, anger, sadness, jealousy, fear, just to name a few. An experienced pro can hit them all in a single pitch. When the fundraising committee members debate the pro’s and con’s of various strategies, differing viewpoints produce differing approaches. Some of the more experienced board members hedge to the conservative approach while those of us with less fundraising experience tend to think more, umm, boldly – a hit-them-over-the-head-and-shake-the-money-loose attitude. As you can imagine, these differences of opinion cause more than a few good ideas to be tossed out. Here is a sampling of fundraising slogans that we decided not to use but probably should have:
“Cash. Nothing wrong with cash. We can use cash. It’s almost as good as money.” (After we decided not to use this one, the State of Wisconsin decided to use – we knew it was good!)
“Open you checkbook, if you know what’s good for you.” (O.K., a little harsh but definitely to the point.)
“What do you mean you can’t make a donation? You just bought groceries didn’t you?” (We are community supported – even the smallest donation helps.)
“Waiting to make your donation until the stock market rebounds? Wake up! Donate them to Thrasher and ‘invest’ in the community.”
“For a hundred bucks, we’ll name the place after you.” (After the first twenty or so donors, we started to run into problems, so we dropped it. Actually, the number’s closer to a half million…any takers?)
“If you don’t give, we’ll sell it to Wal-Mart.” (We thought this would really shake up the business community.)
“It ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and she’s just starting to warm up now.” (Not sure what it means but we all kind of liked it.)
“Death sucks so put Thrasher Opera House in your will: Let the community profit from your unfortunate demise.” (No nice “spin” to put on it so it was shelved.)
“Did we mention cash?” (The follow up to the first one.)
It’s not all fun and games. We have real issues raising money: a bad economy, a depressed stock market, anxiety over foreign problems, …you name it. And we count on your donations. We’ve budgeted a deficit every year (kind of like the government) and every year we squeak through on your generosity. So I guess this is a “thank you” as well as a “please.” Your support means the world to me but more importantly, it means the world to your community.