Dumbest music fund-raiser of the year

Dumbest music fund-raiser of the year


norman lebrecht

November 27, 2014

The email arrived this morning from a well-known contemporary music foundation. We’ll delete its identity out of pity, probably undeserved.
Dear Norman, as you may know, (X, our chairman) is incredibly busy at the moment. He’s therefore passed on your email address and asked that I write to you on his behalf – in this special 25th anniversary year – in the hope that you will choose to support (our) most ambitious project to date.

You’ll no doubt appreciate that … needs to develop and grow in our very fast-moving world and where better to do this than at the … – a treasure trove of inspiration and an international destination for exploring discovery and achievement. As part of our anniversary celebrations … has teamed up with … to create Objects at an Exhibition. Objects is all about new audiences for new music.

Objects takes place next Autumn and we already have a large portion of funding in place towards our £148,000 project costs but we need to raise at least £10,000 in online donations next week …


We replied: ‘If your chairman’s too busy to write, we’re too busy to give.’

Where do they train these people? 


  • V.Lind says:

    Couldn’t the minion have drafted the letter, absent the excuses, and sent it out over the Chairman’s signature? It’s not as if the chairman would not be aware of its drift — the fundraising initiative would be a regular topic in any meetings.

    It would have looked better — P.R. 101. Does he think David Cameron and Barack Obama draft, or even see, all that is sent out in their names?

  • Tim Benjamin says:

    Andrew Ward is indeed very busy:-

    Andrew Ward is Director of Corporate Relations at Brunel University where he is responsible for building and maintaining links with partners from industry and the not-for-profit sectors, supporting academics to work with external agencies and raising the profile of the University amongst employer and other communities. Andrew has served on the boards of 40 private, public and third sector organisations and has a well established reputation for partnership working. He was the founder-chair of what is now West London Business and also chaired the London Chambers Network. He has been a director of companies in the timber, media and IT industries and has also owned a pub. In addition, he has undertaken consultancy projects for a range of different organisations, from the Thai Government to the UK Probation Service. Andrew is passionate about the arts, especially music, and is currently Chair of NMC Recordings and the Dartington International Summer School Foundation, Associate Director of the Institute of Composing and Advisor to the Watermans Arts Centre and Mirepoix Musique.

    Gets around a bit doesn’t he!

    I assume you are talking about NMC’s 25th anniversary:

    If you’re going to publish their private (?) email to you then you might as well go the whole hog, it was the work of about 2 seconds to fill in the blanks via Google.

    Seems like a very worthy project though and this was the first I’d heard about it. Pity you couldn’t tell us about it directly! Still, any publicity is good publicity?

    • anon says:

      Hmmm… looking at the page, they are a little vague in the fundraising literature:

      ‘A large portion of the project budget has already been raised from trusts and foundations, but there is still a funding gap to be met.’

      How large a portion, exactly? How much is left to raise?

  • Halldor says:

    Ever had a press release signed off by an intern? That’s how to make a journalist feel special.

    • anon says:

      Rotating interns, most of whom are either inept at correspondence or given inept guidance as to what to write, are now a structural fixture in all too many publicly funded arts organisations, no doubt favoured for being a source of cheap/free labour. Gone are the days when a person could take up an internship with a realistic prospect of progressing to a permanent job. The (deliberately, to avoid any employment rights arising) high turnover was exemplified by a message I recently received from Sound and Music, in that the sender’s address was “intern@”, as opposed to “(person’s name)@”.

      • Halldor says:

        Couldn’t agree more – and in this digital world, there’s something particularly degrading and dehumanising about allocating a hard-working team member (and most of the interns I’ve worked with have put salaried staff to shame) a generic, interchangeable “intern@ ” email address.

        It’s shameful for an arts organisation to act like some callous multinational.

  • Mark Gresham says:

    Norman is on target on this one. The deliberate statement of “as you may know, (X, our chairman) is incredibly busy at the moment” equals “we don’t think you are very important, but we want your money.” This is not just just PR 101, this is Development 101: “You don’t raise funds, you raise friends.” I understand Norman’s response 100%. Really dumb statement in any fund-raising outreach, but beyond that: insulting.

    • Nick says:

      Totally agree! The begging letter is a disgrace for any arts organisation – or any charitable organisation for that matter, the more so since it lists a deadline. It certainly deserves to be aired to show to others what poor and poorly worded appeals are being sent out.

      A smidgen of understanding of how recipients might react would have ensured a personal letter in at least .pdf format signed by the Chairman to NL – perhaps with a short PS to key potential donors that “I will call you in a few days and hope I may have the pleasure of a quick word with you.” How long would all that have taken? 5 minutes maximum for proper screening of the letter and 5 seconds to create a master signature. Add to that an hour or so for the few key phone calls. Incredibly busy or not, the Chairman of this organisation does not deserve that position if he does not have that small amount of time to spare and this is how he permits his underlings to write on his behalf.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    It’s slightly off-topic, it’s also in French, but it sums up what’s going on, here:

    Un président de société reçoit en cadeau un billet d’entrée pour une représentation de la Symphonie Inachevée de Schubert. Ne pouvant s’y rendre, il passe l’invitation à Didier G., son Directeur des Ressources Humaines. Seule condition, que le DRH lui fasse un mémo sur la qualité du concert.

    Le lendemain matin, le président trouve sur son bureau le rapport de Didier G., le DRH :

    1 – les quatre joueurs de hautbois demeurent inactifs pendant des périodes considérables. Il convient donc de réduire leur nombre et de répartir leur travail sur l’ensemble de la symphonie, de manière à réduire les pointes d’inactivité.

    2 – les douze violons jouent tous des notes identiques. Cette duplication excessive semblant inutile, il serait bon de réduire de manière drastique l’effectif de cette section de l’orchestre. Si l’on doit produire un son de volume élevé, il serait possible de l’obtenir par le biais d’un amplificateur électronique.

    3 – l’orchestre consacre un effort considérable à la production de triples croches. Il semble que cela constitue un raffinement excessif, et il est recommandé d’arrondir toutes les notes à la double croche la plus proche. En procédant de la sorte, il devrait être possible d’utiliser des stagiaires et des opérateurs peu qualifiés.

    4 – la répétition par les cors du passage déjà exécuté par les cordes ne présente aucune nécessité. Si tous les passages redondants de ce type étaient éliminés, il serait possible de réduire la durée du concert de deux heures à vingt minutes.

    Nous pouvons conclure, Monsieur le Président, que si Schubert avait prêté attention à ces remarques, il aurait été en mesure d’achever sa symphonie.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    It’s mine, too. Here are my bank details…

    Oh, go on. Please…