The MOA And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Fundraising Email

We’re nearing mid-August, and you know what that means:

The Minnesota Orchestral Association’s fiscal year is close to ending!

According to CEO Michael Henson, the MOA spent roughly $13.7 million this fiscal year (in that, in early July, he estimated that a $960,000 grant would consist of seven percent of the organization’s operating budget). Who knew it was such an expensive proposition not putting on concerts?

So. The Minnesota Orchestra needs money.

Obviously it’s not ideal to have to ask for money during a year-long lockout that shows literally zero signs of stopping, but if you have to, here are a few semi-reasonable ways to do it.

  • A) Acknowledge the pain of the last year.
  • B) Introduce innovative fundraising methods.
  • C) Reassure donors that everyone is working as hard as possible to move forward.

Or you could go in a more, shall we say, batsh*t crazy direction and

  • D) Pretend the lockout never actually happened.

The MOA decided on option D.

As Stephen Colbert says when absurdity becomes too much to bear: “I cannot emphasize this strongly enough.” This is an actual email that was sent to actual people.

And even worse, I know of at least one locked out musician who got it.

Dear Patron,

For more than 100 years, the Minnesota Orchestra has been a cultural cornerstone of the Twin Cities.

Audiences from around the world have listened to the moving and beautiful music of classical composers played at a world class level. Thousands of children and adults have been inspired to make music a larger part of their lives.

Michael and Harriette Krasnoff – devoted subscribers, Guaranty Fund donors and Laureate Society members – said it best, “The Orchestra is a community asset and it must be maintained.” Our legacy was built by community members and supporters like you. Today, we need your help to protect this legacy and ensure its growth in the future.

Please help preserve the Minnesota Orchestra with a gift to the Guaranty Fund.

Everyone has a unique reason for loving and supporting the Orchestra – we hope you’ll take a moment to remember yours. Please do not let our legacy be forgotten and give as generously as you can.

Thank you, in advance, for demonstrating your confidence in the Minnesota Orchestra.

Sincerely,

xxx*
Manager of Individual Giving

P.S. Please make your gift before August 31, and stand with others like you who believe in the future of the Minnesota Orchestra.

My reaction in GIF form.

My reaction to this email in GIF form.

Wow. That is veering on performance art. Kudos, MOA.

Of course I immediately felt the need to redline this email as much as the MOA wanted to redline the musicians’ contract. So here’s the edit I would have advised sending out…

Dear Patron,

For more than 100 years, the Minnesota Orchestra has been was a cultural cornerstone of the Twin Cities. Orchestra: does the word ring a bell? Audiences from around the world have listened to the moving and beautiful music of classical composers played at a world class level. Many of those very same audiences around the world are now enjoying the talents of our former musicians! Thousands of children and adults have been inspired to make music a larger part of their lives. Teenagers have, too, but they’re totally cray and we don’t like to talk about or acknowledge them, so moving on.

Michael and Harriette Krasnoff – devoted subscribers, Guaranty Fund donors and Laureate Society members – said it best, “The Orchestra is a community asset and it must be maintained” except it is not a community asset and it doesn’t really matter if it’s maintained. Our legacy was built by community members and supporters like you. Not, however, by scum of the earth like Judy Dayton. Or the DeCosses. Or the mayor. Or teenagers. Or anyone that comments in comment sections. Or anyone who writes us letters. Or anyone who writes editorials. Or any of the thousands who went to any of the sold out musicians’ lockout concerts. Or anyone with a blog, because blogs are senseless and must be ignored. Or even our musicians. All those folks can go jump off a very high cliff. We can go it without them, am I right? Forward! Today, we need your help to protect this legacy and ensure its growth in the future, by shrinking the size of the orchestra, reducing the number of concerts, and cutting down on the number of patrons we serve. [Editor's note: these are all non-sarcastic, actually-explicitly-stated goals of the MOA.]

Please help preserve the Minnesota Orchestra and Michael Henson’s salary! with a gift to the Guaranty Fund. Seriously. Mr. Henson needs a raise. This last year has been tough on him.

Everyone has a unique reason for loving and supporting the Orchestra – we hope you’ll take a moment to remember yours. Remember your unique reason, guys? Anyone? … Anyone? … It probably…had something to do with an Orchestra or…something… Please do not let our legacy be forgotten (because we REALLY need donations to keep our legacy from being forgotten) and give as generously as you can.

Thank you, in advance, for demonstrating your confidence in the Minnesota Orchestra. Because, I mean…you will demonstrate your confidence in the Minnesota Orchestra, the very same organization that’s undergone the worst labor dispute in American orchestral history, just as long as we don’t mention it in our fundraising email, right? … Right? … Anyone? Hello? … Is this a fake hang up? … It’s a fake hang up.

Sincerely,

xxx*
Manager of Individual Giving

P.S. Please make your gift before August 31 I mean not like it’s super-important it be before that date lol it’s not that big a big deal that our fiscal year is ending or anything lol and it’s not like we’re short on cash lol or relying on endowment income lol no nothing like that what gave that impression cough and stand with others like you gullible folk with cash to burn who believe so very, very naively in the future of the Minnesota Orchestra. Just to double check: it doesn’t bother you guys if we don’t have a conductor or…a Minnesota Orchestra, right? Right? Great.

***

* FYI I removed the Manager of Individual Giving’s name from this entry. She has a hard enough job as it is, and I can’t imagine she has much of a say over the direction of the organization, so…yeah. The point of this entry is not to mock her personally, just to demonstrate what a truly impossible position she’s been put in.)

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “The MOA And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Fundraising Email

  1. Sadly, the only thing I can think of is: spam. Sure, everyone says they hate spam, and laugh at the ridiculous offers/grammatically incorrect demands they get, but *someone* opens those blasted things and responds. That’s why spam continues to fly… it works. Even if less than 1% of the recipients send in money, this idiot email will have paid for itself. And encourage more. When today’s profit is your only bottom line….

  2. Amy

    “Orchestra.” or·ches·tra [awr-kuh-struh]
    Yes, the word does ring a bell. It strums a harp, it bows a viola, it buzzes the mouthpiece of one’s memory. I wonder just how much cash this email will generate. (Probably not too much from the locked out musicians or their families who receive it…)

  3. I can’t really think of anything to say. Just when I was convinced that the MOA had reached the utmost heights of absurdity, SMACK—– I was wrong again. I do have some compassion for anyone who is put into the awful position of having to sign their name to this gigantic pile of BS.

  4. Ted Fitch

    Funny thing is: many of the things said in the email are things that those of us on the other side of this fight (that is, those of us standing with the Musicians) would have said as an argument for the MOA to back down. I would be very interested in knowing who in the MOA wrote this letter and to ask them *WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!? ARE YOU REALLY THAT DISCONNECTED FROM WHAT HAS GONE ON IN THE LAST YEAR???* And I also am curious where the quote from the Krasnoffs came from. Was it a statement made in support of MOA, or a statement made in support of LOMoMO? Because I am sure that LOMoMO supporters have said *exactly* the same words; and if the Krasnoffs said it in support of LOMoMO, we can see just how cynical and hypocritical the MOA is.

  5. JKM

    Why is anyone surprised by this letter from the MOA? After all they are the Bourbons of Minnesota, who, like the Bourbons of France, have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Now, dear readers, to make your voices heard, attend the meeting of the Third Estate scheduled for August 20, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm in Westminster Church in downtown Minneapolis, across the street from what was known as Orchestra Hall. Bring your “cahiers de doléances” (notebooks of complaints) with you. If the Bourbons ignore you, just remember that there are tennis courts nearby in Loring Park. We might even have a women’s delegation willing to bring the cake eaters back from Versailles (i.e. Wayzata) to face the wrath of the urban, music loving community in the City of Minneapolis.

    • Sarah

      I thought that was the Spanish Bourbons . . . ? Same extended family.

      • JKM

        The Bourbons have been monarchs for several states, including Spain, Sicily and France. The current King of Spain is a Bourbon as is the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. The Bourbons of France ascended to the throne with Henry IV following the wars of religion and remained on the throne until the misfortune that befell Louis XVI. They returned to France in a Restoration (1814-1830) under Louis XVIII and his brother, the reactionary Charles X, who lost the throne as a result of a revolution in 1830. It was about him that the saying “they learned nothing and they forgot nothing” was applied…and with good reason.

  6. Sarah

    I wonder how much the bodyguards took out of the $13.7 million . . .

    • Ah yes, the mystery of Michael Henson’s bodyguard. Who pays for him? The whole music world wants to know…

      • JKM

        I noticed that a police car was stationed at the construction sight for nine months. Was this part of the “protection”?

      • John Cornell

        The MOA certainly has had one major on-going expense: legal fees to the “union-busting lock-outing” Felhaber law firm (see also Crystal Sugar and SPCO.) You can be certain that the MOA has not taken a sollitary step–or issued a solitary public word–without (expensive) advice of counsel. And we may wonder if the donors whose unrestricted gifts have been used to pay those legal fees would really be pleased about that. I’m not.

  7. Reblogged this on Critical Hit!! and commented:
    It’s a shame to see the Minnesota Orchestra continue to fall. Read if you care about the fine arts and are interested in how *not* to fundraise.

  8. Concerned

    “Audiences from arround the world…” So that’s it then. The proverbial *tell*. They’ll keep Mr Henson on as Captain of the goodship Titanic so long as he can get them ‘access’ to the dear old Beeb?

    This is insane.

  9. George Slade (@rephotographica)

    The following comment comes from Jock Ellis, a trombonist who lives in Chatsworth, California; I am posting it as a favor to a friend of his:

    Those desiring to become high-level “official patrons” of the Minnesota Orchestra should be required to sign a waiver. The waiver would read as follows: “Should you wish to contribute, you must first understand that this is not your orchestra. It belongs to the people of Minnesota and to the world. Because of your love of music, you would be helping enable the members of the orchestra do what they do as musicians and helping support art for its sake alone. You would as well be facilitating community enjoyment of the fruits of the musicians’ labors. Orchestra Hall will not be named for you, nor will designated areas of the concert venue; the hall is for all to own. The musicians you will be helping employ are truly more valuable, learned, and rare than team members of the Vikings, Timberwolves, or Twins. Although their compensation may be only a fraction of gladiator pay, the musicians shall be paid well. This will ensure a better orchestra. You will not attempt to influence decisions of the conductor and orchestra as a voting voice. If you agree to the above terms, we invite you to contribute to a beautiful artistic venture.”

  10. Pingback: In Defense of Development | thousandfold echo

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