Although we’re volunteer run, there are expenses. In the wake of unsolicited back-to-back queries from potential underwriters — one of which raised the valid point that all the nonprofit venues in the region have underwriting programs, and none of them have a documentation prong — we’re opening the door to underwriting to help cover the costs of operating and improving.
This is an unadvertised soft launch. Early adopters will probably be few… partly because we’re not marketing it, but mostly just because we’re still ‘building the brand’ (ugh). However, that means those who choose to support Stage 33 Live will be all the more visible and appreciated.
- This is an underwriting program, not a membership thing. It’s intended for businesses and foundations, but open to personal philanthropy. (We also accept freewill donations in any amount, as well as donated goods and services. All donations are tax-deductible to the legal extent allowed.)
- Underwriters will receive display or text acknowledgment during the underwriting term on collateral including posters and playbills; on every page of our website; in our newsletter; in press releases; and permanently embedded in all web-posted clips of documentation taken during the underwriting term.
- Worth noting: Many of the live attendees travel in to attend — one memorable show had people from five states. And the online audience is far larger and more dispersed. The net we cast is wide.
- This underwriting doesn’t include broadcast acknowledgment. Federal law and public broadcasting rules regarding underwriter acknowledgment in broadcast programming is complex and restrictive. By necessity, broadcast provision will be a separate program once that production begins, and opportunities will be limited.
- Display sizes and placements will typically be commensurately weighted among all underwriters, and/or presented in descending order of the support amount.
- Mid-term sign-ons will be accepted after a season starts. Officially, the term will be for the following season… but acknowledgments will be immediately deployed to the extent possible.
- Underwriting terms are annual, and coincide with our fall-through-spring season. Any post-season summer events that may get scheduled will be rolled in.
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
The pitch, such as it is.
A halo is nice, but so is putting bread and butter on your table. As a practical exercise in capitalism, underwriting demonstrates to potential customers that you’re the kind of place they’ll want to get to know… and it builds loyalty with customers you already have.
There are studies about almost everything. Some of them show that underwriting works better than advertising, which may well be true. Underwriting is sort of like advertising without the desperation.
Our acknowledgements are based primarily on noncommercial broadcast law and public broadcasting rules because we find it offers a clean and fair approach that doesn’t descend into pandering ickiness. (Some noncommercial broadcasters stretch the intent of law and their own guidance mind-bogglingly far, but we ain’t them. We still have our debilitating integrity.)
- Some part or combination of this info is used in our underwriting acknowledgements, depending on the media deployed:
- your identifying logo
- entity name if the logo doesn’t identify
- a value-neutral description of products and services in 10 words or fewer (not required)
- established short slogan that identifies but isn’t promotional (not required)
- web / contact / location info as appropriate
- disallowed: price information, calls to action, superlative / qualitative / comparative descriptions, inducements, and endorsements
Some organizations offer discounted or free tickets as an inducement to underwrite. We don’t. The ticket money goes to the performers, not us, and we’re not willing to take that away from them.
We aren’t setting hard rates yet, just suggesting an introductory-discounted moving-target minimum threshold. Our suggested full-freight amount for big foundation and corporate support is $3,300 per year. For smaller entities that just can’t hit that hard, halve that: $1,650. For good-hearted but slim-margined locally-owned affairs, $500 and up. This is for all the recognitions in all the collaterals during the full year, plus permanent embedding in the web clips. (We’re also not putting a strict definition on “big” or “successful” or “small.” Make a pitch that seems right and fair for both you and us.)
We reserve the right to decline underwriters for any reason.
At this time, no incoming funds go toward personnel payroll. We do hope to get paid for our work one day, but that day isn’t this day. For now, everything is invested into costs, maintenance, and upgrades. When there’s any “extra” dough, we’ll be starting a Performer Guarantee Fund to make sure that performers at least get a minimum stipend for events when ticket sales or entry donations fall flat. If you’d like, we’ll honor your specification to use your underwriting dollars for that fund.
Stage 33 Live is a nonprofit (EIN 82-2349941), and all support is tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed.
The underwriting program opens a wider door of major support, but we’ll always remember the local people who helped build up Stage 33 Live with their time and muscle, experience and expertise, and small donations. The considerable progress that’s been made so far would never have happened without them. Bellows Falls is rich in culture and nature, but the median household income is less than half the national median — and the lowest of any incorporated village in southern Vermont. The poverty rate tops 25%. In addition to maybe helping launch a career or two, we hope to eventually be able to provide at least one paid position in our community.
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