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…thoughts on community, duty and dollars…

June 27, 2012

It is no secret that every year for the last seven or so, I have worked as a Donations Zone Coordinator for SF Pride.  Most of you have no idea what that means, do you?

Okay, if you’ve ever been to Pride, you’ve seen the folks with the white buckets asking for a donation at all of the gates into the festival.  Those people are all volunteers from various community organizations.  When I say various, I mean it.  They come from groups that help homeless children, AIDS victims, sex workers, animals, at risk teenagers, Gay/Straight Alliances, churches and other religious organizations, etc.

The way this works is those organizations get volunteers to work the buckets, then part of the money raised is given back to those organizations as a grant from the Pride organization.  The rest of the money goes into paying for Pride.

Now, I may be a little old fashioned, but I consider the job I do (which is essentially managing all of those volunteers) to be my duty, both to my organization (The Pagan Alliance) as a fundraiser, and to the greater LGBT community, because I am helping those other organizations and Pride itself to raise funds as well.

Like I said, seven years.  In those seven years I’ve noticed a few things.

1)The median age of our volunteers is 40.  The number of younger volunteers gets smaller every year.  This year we had less than five volunteers who were between the ages of 13 and 17.

2) The number of volunteers supporting each organization gets smaller and smaller every year. 

3) The number of no-shows (both individuals and entire organizations) increases every year.

4) The amount of money collected has decreased every year for at least the last three, despite the size of the crowds.

Now, no one is trying to say that this is an easy job or that it’s glamorous.  It’s hot, it’s loud and you’re asking people for money.  However, it can be fun and entertaining, and all anyone asks their volunteers for is one 2.5 hour shift.  Sure, it’s work, but in the end, the organization you support gets a grant.  That’s money you don’t have to come up with some other way.  Money that supports your cause, whatever cause that may be.

Does the younger generation really not feel the duty to the community that I do?  Is two and a half hours out of your Pride Sunday really that much to ask for?  Is a five dollar donation (which in return earns you $1 off all beverages all day…five drinks and you’ve made it back) such a ridiculous amount to ask for when there is so much to see and do at Pride?

Based on recent numbers, only 4 in 10 attendees donate $5.  Four in Ten.

If you could see even a fraction of the organization and business behind the scenes, you’d realize that $5 is nothing in the face of it all.  If we can’t improve that 4 in 10 figure, the day will come when Pride is a pay-to-get-in event.

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