Thursday, February 17, 2011

I May Not Be With the Program...

... but I'm IN the program.

I went to a performance last week, which was organized by an old friend of mine. He occasionally has fundraisers to support his work, and I've always tried to donate money. This year, I contributed $50. So when I saw the show and flipped through the program, there was my name, listed in the lowest rung of contributors. I wasn't expecting to see that at all, and it suddenly made me feel quite weird. I think it may have been the first time I ever saw myself listed in a program as a donor.

Those lists in the backs of programs are always funny. When I was a kid going to the ballet or symphony with my parents, I'd always read the lists of names, mainly because I was the kind of voracious reader who couldn't not read in an idle moment and would read the cereal box at breakfast if necessary. But it also kind of interested me, as I got older, to know that there were these rich people who supported the arts. As an adult, I became more aware of who those names might be-- well-known business executives, perhaps, or members of wealthy families. I'd look at the lists wondering if executives in my own industry might be contributors, or looking for the names of my old college classmates who might be rich and/or successful today.

The lists always have various tiers-- "friend," "benefactor," "donor," "angel," and such. If I saw names I recognized, I couldn't help noticing which level they were in and how much money they gave. I suppose for many people, donating to arts organizations is done with this sort of thing in mind-- showing everyone how benevolent you are, showing everyone your taste and passion for the arts, and showing everyone how much money you've got. Of course there are always a few "anonymous" donors listed, but most people are named.

When I donated to my friend's organization, it didn't cross my mind that there would be a listing in a program. And it was a very short listing. I couldn't help thinking, geez, I sent 50 bucks and yet I'm one of only a dozen or so donors total, at all the levels! I guess I also saw it as crossing some kind of line in my life-- in my younger days, my name was in programs because I helped paint the sets, or design the poster, or handle props and push furniture around. I was a part of the show as a creative person, not just that person once removed who throws some money at it. Some of the other donors were people I knew were also creatively involved with my friend's work, so it's not like there's always a hard line between those who "do" and those who pay. But it was funny to think that in some way, I'm working at my not-that-interesting office job so my friend, whose creative work seems to pay his bills, doesn't have to.
Such is life, I guess. And I have to say, I was thrilled for my friend and thought his performance was amazing. I haven't been able to get it out of my head for days, and experiencing that kind of art is certainly worth $50 or more. In fact, he just sent out another fundraising email and I contributed another $50. If he does another show, I'll buy tickets and if he sends out another email, I'll donate again. Maybe I'll even make it to the next tier in the program!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

My college has a book with donors in it, and the first time I saw my name, I was a little shocked as well. Now it's a regular thing, even though I still look for my classmates/friends' names.

Good for you! Miss seeing your posts.
-tasha

Mark said...

Donating is always a good feeling! Even if you don't get your name in the program. :)

Mark
thriftytimes.com

C H E R said...

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One New Voice said...

I remember when I first saw my name on a donar list. I always felt they were for people who lived in some flat high above the city ... high society. Anyways, sounds neat. Nice blog to. http://onenewvoice.blogspot.com

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Kulutusluotot said...

Donating seems to be a very cheap way of getting some positive publicity in your country! I doubt it would work that well in Finland, though.

Bank CD Rates Follower said...

Congratulations on contributing to a charity! It's such a good feeling to be part of a big cause :) Hope you find other fulfilling causes to sponsor!

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MyATM said...

Your friend is lucky to have you. I can tell that you have a good heart. Don't worry about the 50 dollars because you'll earn more of it. Smile!

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Dana said...

I think that donating to the arts is a fantastic cause. I see what you mean about crossing the line, how you used to donate your time, and now you donate your money. Both are equally valid and reflect the situation you are in with your life right now. Whichever way, it is great to see your name in print!!