My first year out of college I found myself living on an artist commune. With a BA in theater and a minor in Sociology and Medieval Studies in tow, on paper I was qualified to perform socially relevant plays about Joan of Arc. One of my jobs at the compound, along with making the meals, manning the box office, and doing 10 shows a week, was to fundraise. I would troll the street of our Philadelphia suburb knocking on doors, selling ad space, tickets to fundraisers, and season passes. Sometimes I would go in costume. Sometimes I would dress in my 21-year-old mind’s version of “professional garb.” But I was a success. Our company survived on grants and donations and I made sure we received both in spades.
Convincing someone to give money to an arts company was easy. But fundraising for an international adoption? The first time someone asked me “Why spend money on adoption?” I was so caught off guard. I turned beet red, sputtered a response, and made a beeline for the exit. Months later I became a pro at responding to people’s inquiries. Some questions were deeply personal. Some were genuinely interested. And still some were borderline offensive. But with each inquiry I tried to raise awareness.