When Mark Fry and I founded Chamber Music on the Fox 4 years ago, we were just a couple of musicians with little to no administrative experience looking to find a way to bring world-class chamber music concerts to Elgin. We’ve learned as we’ve gone along, from self-producing concerts to establishing our legal status as a 501(c)(3) organization, to putting together a board of directors, and all the other fun things that go along with nonprofit work! But one of the greatest challenges for a couple of newbies like us has been fundraising. A masters degree in cello performance is a great thing when it comes to being an expert at playing the instrument, but no one exactly taught us the ins and outs of “the ask,” if you know what I mean.
Thus far, we’ve sustained Chamber Music on the Fox through local, state, and foundation grants, as well as several annual fundraising drives and events, and it’s always been enough to keep us in the black. Last year, we signed ourselves up for Elgin Gives, even though we didn’t fully understand what it was and honestly didn’t have a lot of faith that it would be all that helpful. After all, previous Giving Tuesdays had come and gone, and no one seemed to pay Chamber Music on the Fox any special attention on that particular day.
I’m delighted to report that we were completely wrong. The people of Elgin never fail to amaze and inspire us, and on Giving Tuesday, the community showed us incredible support. We set a goal of raising $500, and easily doubled that amount halfway through the day. We ended up raising $1,295, and that was with minimal training on how to best take advantage of all of the resources Elgin Gives had to offer. This year, I’m confident that we will raise at least double that amount.
Whether you’re a fundraising guru or somewhat of a novice like us, I can’t encourage you enough to taking part in Giving Tuesday through Elgin Gives. The support of our community is even stronger than we realize, and seeing so many nonprofits thrive on Giving Tuesday last year created a thrill of positive energy and a strong sense of how many of our neighbors care deeply about our community.
About Sara Sitzer
Sara Sitzer, whose playing has been described as “rich” and “lustrous” by the Chicago Classical Review, is an active and versatile freelance cellist and entrepreneur in Chicago. A member of the Elgin Symphony, Sara also performs regularly with orchestras and ensembles including the Milwaukee Symphony and Chicago Opera Theater, as well as on Broadway in Chicago. Ms. Sitzer is founding Artistic Director of the Gesher Music Festival in St. Louis, MO, and founding Co-Artistic Director of Chamber Music on the Fox in Elgin, IL. She spends her summers performing and teaching at the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sara holds performance degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Boston University, and completed a 3-year fellowship with the New World Symphony in Miami under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.