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Case Study: Sister District Project fundraiser with a small business, yoga studio edition

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By Merry Ann Moore, HQL Sister District Portland Eastside

Overview

After hearing popular yoga instructor Audra Carmine opine during classes on her concerns with what our politics are doing to our society, I approached her about the work I’m doing with Sister District Project Portland Eastside. She mentioned that her studio was interested in supporting community causes. This was back at the end of 2019, and I bided time until the moment seemed ripe to take the ask to the next step.

After the new year, I broached the topic of support again. Without hesitation, Audra offered to donate proceeds from her two popular Sunday classes at Love Hive Yoga. An idea was born: “flowraiser”.

The goals were to raise early money for GOTV efforts, recruit new SDP volunteers, and spread the word that it’s now time to get involved in the 2020 elections. The funds raised would go into SDP GOTV Fund, which earmarks money for auto-dialers and other voter turnout tactical costs. Any dollars raised would count toward the Portland Eastside team’s 2020 cycle fundraising.

Audra agreed to publicize the event and SDP to her clients. Our team agreed to publicize the event and lend a halo to Audra’s small business brand by showcasing her commitment to community.

ActBlue link

I used the to get a unique URL and text-to-donate keyword for this project. The message was: Text pdxeastyoga to the number 555888

We spotlight options to donate online by including a link to a customized Act Blue page, and to scan a QR code leading to our main Act Blue page. The donation pathway was set up so I would get email alerts each time someone donated.

Publicizing the event

Audra offered the following to help publicize SDP and the flowraiser:

  • Add a link to the SDP fundraising URL on her Love Hive Yoga website for people to see in case they want to support our cause.
  • Put a link in the studio bio on Instagram.

In addition, Merry Ann provided draft copy to Audra for her to send an email, and suggested talking points for her to talk about SDP at her classes.

Audra sent the following email to her email subscriber list:

Though she didn’t end up using them, here are the talking points provided to Audra:

Audra, here are bullets for promoting the flowraiser with the Love Hive community. Feel free to make this your own of course, it’s totally your call on how much to convey.

  1. Come to my flowraiser!
  2. I’m supporting a group made up of volunteers who are working to change the direction our country is taking.
  3. The proceeds from both my classes on Sunday, February 9 will go to Sister District Project Portland Eastside.
    Sister District is a group that pairs volunteers in blue states with progressive candidates in red and purple regions, and helps them get elected to statehouses and state senates. In 2019, two-thirds of the endorsed candidates were women, and 35% of the funds the volunteers raised went to candidates of color.
  4. This work is crucial for putting an end to gerrymandering, supporting progressives with the courage to run in purple and red states, and building a pipeline of diverse leaders who will one day run for higher office.
  5. For 2020, the Portland Eastside group will be supporting candidates trying to flips red seats to blue.
  6. Get more info at https://sisterdistrict.com/.
  7. Sign up in advance for the 9 a.m. class at Fremont or the 11 a.m. class at Burnside, because space is limited.
  8. And if you can’t make it to one of the classes but still want to support this great cause, you can text pdxeastyoga to 555888 or visit the link I’ve posted on the notice board. https://secure.actblue.com/donate/sd141-gotv-pdxeast
  9. When Sister District Project helped flip Virginia blue, the state legislature ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. When they helped flip Colorado blue, the legislature passed a Red Flag law for gun safety and banned conversion therapy. When they helped flip WA blue, lawmakers then banned bump stocks and passed an equal pay act.
  10. So I hope to see you Feb. 9.

For our part, here’s what SDP Portland Eastside did to promote the flowraiser:

  • Sent a newsletter to volunteers promoting the event to our subscribers
  • Posted a notice to our IG and FB feeds.

The Event

Day of, I attended both yoga classes to give a five-minute overview of SDP and hand out one-pagers focused on donations and volunteer recruitment. Around 55 people were in attendance and I spoke to about ten. Several expressed high interest in volunteering.

Audra raised $561 for SDP, which was matched 1:1 by a challenge grant, bringing in a total of $1100+ for our organization.

Follow-up

To acknowledge Audra’s donation, SDP

  • Emailed a thank you in the Portland Eastside newsletter, which goes to a list of 650 progressive Portlanders.
  • Posted a thank you tagging the studio on the Portland Eastside team’s Instagram and Facebook feeds.
  • Provided handwritten thank you notes from Portland Eastside for display on the Love Hive studio bulletin boards.

This example shows that small local businesses are interested in associating with progressive causes. Depending on their revenue model, some are even willing to go beyond in-kind contributions (food and beverage, use of office space) to contribute real money. SDP volunteers should not feel shy to approach local businesses that are flying their progressive colors. Do they have an “immigrants welcomed here” or “In our America” sign in the window? Have you overheard the proprietor bemoaning the latest DC atrocity? Keep your antennae up, then just ask for their support.

Help us continue our work!

This year alone, we raised nearly $2M directly for candidates, and reached out to nearly 1M voters.
Our work won't end on November 3 – help us continue this momentum into 2021, 2022, and beyond by donating $20.22 today!