V to the Tenth!
During the play’s long original run, performances were presented by a slew of high-profile celebs including Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Brooke Shields, Isabella Rossellini, Rita Moreno, Whoopi Goldberg and myriad others who gave voice to Ensler’s powerfully penned vignettes … some funny, some tragic, most shocking and all, without fail, poignant on a level you don’t know exists until these performances dig it out of you.
V-Day initially was funded with $5 million in proceeds from professional performances of “The Vagina Monologues.” Now, in addition to monies being raised by groups
performing the play, it takes in money from individual major donors, carefully selected corporate sponsors and, just recently, foundations.
V-Day stays away from direct mail mainly because Ensler wants to avoid competing for individual donor dollars with organizations that are trying to raise money for their own anti-violence programs. And, she says, “It feels like what everybody does. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, here’s another one of those.’ I know what I do when I see them. I don’t want to become junk mail.”
The organization just last year started accepting money from foundations and channeling it to smaller, local groups because Ensler realized just how much clout the V-Day name carries and how much easier it is for something of its size, scope and high profile to get foundation money.
Ensler doesn’t consider herself a fundraiser, per se, but there’s no denying the numbers. Somebody is doing something right. Not many organizations are as rooted in personal empowerment and involvement with the mission as V-Day. Then again, not many organizations use a word that can make grown men blush as their rallying cry either.
Therein lie some of the lessons that this unusual project and its unconventional fundraising model can offer other organizations, no matter what their mission. In Ensler’s own words:
- People Magazine