SpeakEasy Stage Company’s (SpeakEasy) second annual fall benefit performance, “The SwellTime Variety Hour” debuted on November 9th. The experience was certainly an exciting one, featuring retro-inspired game-shows, jingles, and variety acts. Playwright Walt McGough developed the script especially for this fundraising event and provided an opportunityfor SpeakEasy board members, and supporters to perform onstage alongside professional Boston actors in a fun and engaging environment.
Founded in 1992, SpeakEasy Stage Company has distinguished itself as Boston’s premiere theater, consistently winning acclaim for presenting top-quality productions of vital, cutting-edge plays and musicals. SpeakEasy’s artistic success has garnered numerous awards, including five Elliot Norton Awards in 2010. SpeakEasy also received the 2008 StageSource Theatre Hero Award for their dedication to nurturing and supporting Boston area theatre artists and for their leadership and inspiration to the theatre community of Greater Boston. SpeakEasy was named the Pavilion Resident Theater for the Boston Center for the Arts in 2007 and produces 28 weeks of new plays and musicals each season at the Nancy and Ed Roberts Studio Theater.
SpeakEasy utilized the Wizathon fundraising and software management program for their fall benefit this year. The campaign participants included current and former board members, long time audience members, seasoned performers, and backstage crew. Thirty participants collectively raised over $40,000 through peer to peer donations. The site Wizathon built included links to purchase tickets, sponsor a participant, or sponsor the event. SpeakEasy’s Development Associate, Rebecca Miller, feels, "the access to individual fundraising pages and ability to customize the website was incredibly helpful for our fundraising efforts. I loved being able to send a weekly email to all registered participants and keep everyone’s energy up through this campaign."
The target fundraising goal grew and grew as the sponsorships came in, and many participants managed to exceed their personal fundraising goals as well. With the Wizathon system, every participant is set up with a personal fundraising page from the get-go that can be customized with photos and personal stories. These pages are designed to be shared and linked to in order collect sponsorships. A weekly newsletter was sent to all participants to provide fundraising tips as well as thank you’s, a "scoreboard" listing the top fundraisers, and general encouragement.
"The flow of the site was very easy to navigate, and it was great to be able to link to the individual fundraising pages from a variety of sources such as our website and social media platforms.." Wizathon works to develop and adapt to clients’ needs and current trends. The whole idea is based on peer to peer fundraising, so everything is done in order to allow the participant to connect to others, and reach out to as many people as possible. Overall, Miller feels the staff was, "extremely helpful and the customer service, customization, and adaptability was top rate!"