An interview with Stephen Shapiro
May 19, 2021
Stephen Shapiro is an all-star Field Day fundraiser. He was the top fundraiser for Field Day in 2019. This year, he currently leads in Virtual Field Day fundraising. Steve has some great pointers for those who might need a little encouragement and tips for asking friends and family to donate to Virtual Field Day. It’s also important to mention that Steve Shapiro was the Executive Director of CMC for 33 years. He retired in 2011. He’s no stranger to fundraising professionally and knows CMC’s work first-hand having initiated many of CMC’s core programs.
You have already raised over $3,700. How did you do it?
Stephen Shapiro: The first principal of fundraising is that you’re not raising money for yourself. You’re asking for donations to sustain the mission of the music center—making music possible for everybody. When I, or you, keep that in mind, the anxiety of asking for money from friends and family lifts a little. The second principal of fundraising is making a match. In the case of Field Day, you’re asking for money from people who might have dual motives in giving-—to support your music-making and who want to support the cause of CMC which is to help make music possible for someone who doesn’t have the opportunity. Making a match is choosing family members and friends, who are interested in supporting your music-making journey because they know what it means to you and they also believe in the mission of the music center. The more personal you can be when emailing and talking to people, the better. I use parts of the letter that CMC provides for Virtual Field Day fundraising tips, but I make it personal. When you personalize your message to people who are close to you, it has a completely different feeling than if you’re writing something that’s more generic. Adding your story to the letter is much more meaningful than a letter that simply has language about the mission of the music center. One other important thing to keep in mind is that your love for a friend is not on the line when you ask for a donation. Whether or not they give is not a test for their friendship.
What inspires you to raise money for CMC?
Stephen Shapiro: I really believe in communities and community organizations. I think we need communities and community centers so much more than ever. A place like CMC that brings people together is a treasure. I believe in the value of the arts and community. Music and art for everybody are needed more than ever. This is something I deeply believe in.
Any tips for fundraisers out there?
Stephen Shapiro: I would suggest you have bullet points to help ground you in the email you write or the conversation you have. The more personal you can be, by connecting your message to your own life and the things that give you joy, will touch them the most. For me, I express what music means to me—which is everything! I tell them what the opportunity to play music at a community center means to me. I share with them how I love the idea that CMC makes the opportunity to learn music possible for people who wouldn’t otherwise have that chance. I talk about how CMC is for all ages, all backgrounds, and all kinds of music. If you have a collection of bullet points that reference personal things then it will give you something to hold onto when you’re writing an email or having a phone conversation.
What are you playing in your Virtual Field Day performance?
Stephen Shapiro: I’m playing Johannes Brahms Intermezzo, Opus 118, No. 2. Faculty member Matylda Rotkiewicz helped me prepare for my performance video. I hope I did it justice!
Virtual Field Day
June 1–7 12noon
*Saturday, June 5 will include a special edition of CMC Young Musicians Program performances and graduation, beginning at 11am