Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Raising Money Is Tougher Than a Game Show

I’m always worried we’ll run out of money. In fact, we’ve come close to shutting down the newspaper on one or two occasions.

We need about $650,000 a year in grants and donations to keep the doors open. Raising that amount of money is a draining job, and it never gets easier.

In the early days of L.A. Youth I thought the entertainment industry might be one of our strongest supporters. After all, Hollywood is in our own backyard and its movie, television and recording studios depend on young people like our readers for much of their revenue.

I was wrong. In my experience, a studio or production is most likely to support an actor’s favorite cause, often to win favor at the urging of the actor’s agent. With some notable exceptions, Hollywood is a very insular community when it comes to giving. Outsiders are best advised not to come calling.

Celebrities in general are frustrating to deal with. On occasion, we have asked several to donate their time and talent to our fundraising events. One local TV anchor agreed to be mistress of ceremonies, but on two conditions: that we buy her a designer gown for the dinner and hire a limousine to get her there. I demurred, noting that business attire was appropriate and, besides, our programs really needed the money. She grudgingly gave in but came with her entourage. Just like the TV show.

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