We began planning for the RFC’s 20th anniversary over two years ago. We’d produced several large-scale dramatic readings interspersed with music to mark prior milestones such as the 40th and 50th anniversary of my parents’ execution or the RFC’s 10th anniversary, but this time we wanted to do something different. Rather than one big event on or near the anniversary date (September 4th, 2010), we decided to hold 20 events, in 20 cities, over 20 months (our 20/20/20 program). Staging a large number of modest events takes more effort than holding a single big one, but we wanted to interact with as many members of our community as possible. When you bring together thousands, you see lots of people, but get to talk meaningfully with almost none of them. We also wanted to involve dozens of volunteers in our work to strengthen our connections with our constituency.
At first we weren’t sure that we’d find 20 venues and small groups of people in so many cities who’d take on the task of hosting an RFC reception. Over 21 months, however, starting in September, 2009 and wrapping up 10 days ago, we held 26 events across 16 states. Most of these affairs were house parties attended by several dozen supporters, but a few were larger public events, including our local “Gala” in Northampton, MA that attracted a crowd of over 250.
I attended every occasion. My daughter Jenn, who will succeed me as Executive Director in a couple of years, joined me at more than half of them; my wife, Elli, attended eight; our Public Relations Coordinator, Amber, joined us at a few; and a number of RFC Board members and current and former beneficiaries participated in at least one. In all, we got to thank personally more than a thousand of our supporters and gained close to 400 new donors for our cause.
After expenses were subtracted, we raised over $62,000 more for our beneficiaries. This is particularly gratifying during a time of economic contraction and on-going repression. The current economic and political climate has made things more difficult for us because the need for our aid grew just when our donor’s ability to contribute shrank. The funds raised from all these events helped fill this breach, and so, they could not have come at a more opportune time. In fact, after cutting our granting budget from $400,000 in 2008 to $350,000 in 2009, we were able to increase the budget to $360,000 in 2010 and expect our granting total to top $370,000 this year. The RFC staff, Board and beneficiaries extend a huge collective thank you to everyone who helped with these events or contributed at them for making this possible.
Finally, I extend a special thank you to our Public Relations Coordinator, Amber Black, who was the principle in-house organizer of all of these programs. Everyone who worked with her can attest to her effectiveness and efficiency; we couldn’t have done it without her.
PS Although we’ve concluded the 20/20/20 program, we’re lining up more parties in the fall. We’re already planning receptions in Portland, OR and suburban Philadelphia and hope to arrange one or two more in places we missed during our anniversary extravaganza.