Philly Phundraising Phollies
My job was to write and design the mailings.
The first invitation was for an exhibition of John Singer Sargent portraits and the evening was a barnburner. My client was thrilled with the turnout and return on investment.
Over the years, we found that the success of future mailings depended on the fame of the artists. John Singer Sargent was A++. Red Grooms did fine. The high profile "Biennial" was okay. Charles Sheeler and Donald Judd were marginal at best. But overall, the program was a success and I loved working for the Whitney.
Fast forward to the 1990s. My wife, Peggy, and I moved to Philadelphia to run Target Marketing magazine. We brought with us the Who's Mailing What! newsletter (now Inside Direct Mail) on direct mail and the massive archive of sample mailings that included more than 200 efforts from museums, zoos, arboretums, libraries and orchestras from around the country.
Being a full-time employee, I could not take on private clients. But I did want to keep my hand in the business.
So in a moment of madness, I offered to do some pro bono work for a well-known Philadelphia museum.
I walked into a buzz saw.
The Seaport Museum
One weekend, I spent a magical afternoon at the Independence Seaport Museum with its splendid collection of paintings and interactive exhibits of ships from the early days of the colonies to today's supertankers. Could I volunteer to help the museum acquire members or raise money as I had for the Whitney Museum in New York for many years? In particular, I was interested in the possibility of generating funds for the cruiser Olympia, anchored at the Penn's Landing wharf. This 100-year-old battlewagon was part of Teddy Roosevelt's Great White fleet that circled the globe in 1908. According to The History Channel, she was in desperate need of $15 million for restoration.