Whistler Writers Fest fundraiser

$14,227 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 169 people in 22 months
A Call to Action 
“Action is the foundational key to success.” Pablo Picasso

I need your help. But before I get into that let me start at the beginning.  

In 2002 there were only 20 of us. We chatted, talked, learned. For many of us this was the start of a writing life. Since those humble beginnings we have grown steadily, but most impressively in the last six years−from 395 participants in 2011 to 1810 in 2016. We’ve been lucky enough to host multi-award winning authors (Jane Urquhart, Joseph Boyden, Lawrence Hill, Madeline Thien, Will Ferguson, Emma Donoghue, Lisa Moore, Peter Robinson to name a few) on the same stage as emerging authors (Gillian Wigmore, Jennifer Manuel, Meagan Williams, Steven Price). And now, the Whistler Writers Festival is only one component of the literary programming we organize every year. 

We have steadily expanded to provide concentrated support to emerging writers through our Writer In Residence Program (since 2007) and have established an Author in the Schools Program (since 2011), which sees us provide students in the Sea to Sky corridor with class sets of a visiting author’s books. The students read the books, and in some cases, study them as part of their curriculum. The author then meets the students to discuss the book and answer questions. 

In the first year of this program, we had 86 students, a handful of teachers and one very nervous organizer. Me. 

As I watched the kids file into the auditorium at the Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre that year, buds in ears, cell phones at the ready, some kidding around with their peers, I wondered what the hell I was thinking. Why did I think a program like this could work with kids? But then, author Richard Wagamese took the stage and as he started to speak, the room got very quiet. The audience listened to Richard’s every word. They asked questions after his presentation and got his autograph.

Since then, the Author in the Schools program has drawn some 500 kids every year.

If even one student takes an interest in writing or reading I feel I’m making a difference. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

You can tell I’m pretty proud of our accomplishments. It hasn’t come easily. It’s taken a lot of hard work, determination (or naiveté), sacrifice and focus. And it’s taken generous contributions from sponsors, all levels of government, and several other organizations. For this, we are hugely grateful.

Participants in all our programs are ecstatic too. Each year they seek me out either in person or via email or text messages. They have repeatedly told me how much they enjoyed the intimacy, fellowship, the enthusiastic hospitality, our great choices of speakers and moderators, the accessibility of our programming and the innovative and varied events. Words, such as insightful, moving, creative and surprising are typically used. And everyone I’ve spoken to told me this was our very best year. “Wonder what you’ll do next year. How will you top this?”

The short answer is, I don’t know. 

Before we can plan anything, we have to be sure we have sufficient revenue to cover costs. Yes, we do generate revenue from ticket sales, but because we want to keep our programming accessible, we also want to keep ticket prices low. And some of our events are free. And besides ticket sales only fund 40% of the festival’s overall budget.

Therefore, we write grant proposals, pitch our ideas to businesses in order to secure sponsorship and organize fundraising events. Then I hold my breath, cross my fingers and hope.

But the writing (no pun intended) is on the wall. Funding, particularly grant funding is shrinking because more organizations are applying, funds are tight and many funding bodies have made the decision to give smaller amounts to a greater number of initiatives, rather than larger amounts to fewer initiatives. We respect those decisions and we are grateful for the funding we do receive.

However, there’s still a gap between revenue and the cost of producing our annual Writers Festival, the Writer in Residence Program and the Author in the Schools Program.

So now it’s my turn to come to you, to email you. I need your help, as I said before. We’re launching a fundraising campaign, the likes of which we have not done in the past. Through social media and emails and direct appeal, I’m hoping you will support us through donations. With your support, we will continue to provide the quality programming you’ve come to expect and we plan to expand yet again to provide literary readings from February to June as a lead up to our existing fall literary programming. Why another expansion particularly since funds are tight? The simple answer: without growth, there is no long-term sustainability. Without this, how can anything last?

We’ve been here for 15 years and I’d like us to be here for many more years. But I know we can’t do it alone. I hope you’ll come along for the ride. 

Any amount helps. And donations over $25 will receive an electronic tax receipt, in the name of the donor, to the email address provided. 

Thanks again for your ongoing commitment and support for the literary arts. I appreciate it. Together we’ve made a difference. Thank you.

Stella

P.S. check out a very quick video of  Whistler Writers Fest 2016

P.S. 2 or watch videos of our other programs here. 

Whistler Writers Fest website
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A Call to Action – Update #6
“I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that, then I realized I’m that somebody.” Lily Tomlin

There are many of you somebodies out there who have helped us this year with our go fund me campaign. Thanks again for all you’ve done on behalf of the Whistler Writers Festival. It lives on because of you. You made the difference. And I am grateful beyond measure.
As promised, this will be my last update about our campaign, but our efforts to secure funds for the festival won’t stop just because you don’t hear from me. In fact, if you want to know how it’s going, send me an email. I love hearing from friends, colleagues and strangers alike. Your notes of support have been uplifting and soul enhancing. They are astonishing really and have brought me to tears (in a good way) more than once. Thank you.

We have now received some $13,000 in donations on our way to our goal of $30,000. I think by the end of this particular campaign we will likely reach the $15,000 mark, which is amazing. I didn’t know what to expect when I started down this road, but each turn in the bend, each note or letter has only served to motivate me further. The last note from my friend, Marilyn, in Edmonton, who has yet to visit the festival said, I believe in you. Or the note I received from fellow author, Fiona Lam, who wrote, we are all grateful for what you do. So I keep going.

And in that vein I want to let you know it will never be too late for you to make a contribution. Any amount helps. And donations over $25 will receive an electronic tax receipt in the name of the donor. You can donate on our gofundmesite.

Mark the date. The 2017 Whistler Writers Festival is October 12th to 15th. Hope to see you there. Lots to do before then, so I better run. Thanks again! Stella
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“Never settle for a ripple, when you can make a wave.” Janet Louise Stephenson

The Christmas break is over. It was a hectic time with travel and socializing and far too much food and sweets. I’m trying to cut down on the latter, but chocolate and fruitcake are still in the cupboard, and on top of everything else, Santa Claus filled my jellybean dispenser. It sits on the credenza beside my desk like a tease. Mind you I still have to plug it with coins to get at the jellybeans. Unfortunately, this deterrent is a weak one at best, given that my desk drawer is filled with coins. I’m nothing if not a planner with back up plans on top of back up plans.

I hope you all had a nice Christmas break. I wish you the very best in 2017.

Many more donations came in on our fundraising campaign for the Whistler Writers Festival. We have now received some $12,000 in donations on our way to our goal of $30,000. Thank you so much for your generosity and support.

Along with donations, some folks made other fundraising suggestions, or offered prizes for silent auctions and contests or asked questions. I love questions.

By far, the single most asked question was: why do you do it? And by this, I think they were asking why I put on the festival in the first place.

I ask myself this all the time. The work is difficult and all consuming. When I’m not writing submissions for grants, or organizing, planning, and scheduling authors and venues, or signing contracts or approaching corporations for sponsorship or doing interviews, or a number of other this’ and thats, I’m thinking about what has to be done.

When I ask myself why, I only have to recall some of the incredible notes I received in the past from festival participants and writers alike. Here’s just one: Thank you for having me. The organizers did a phenomenal job, and I would come back and recommend the festival to my writing friends and family. As someone who has gone to a lot of these kinds of things, I can say that this one is among the best!

Or I think about the young women who were downright gushy to see author Emma Donohue in person at our festival last year.

Would you like me to introduce you, I asked.

Oh no, they said in hand-over mouth giggles, we’re just happy to be in the same room.

I have many notes from participants who have shared a drink with their favourite author at our festival and wrote to thank me for creating an event that is so intimate it allowed them to do what they didn’t think was possible.

Yes, believe it or not some authors have the following of a rock star.

But some of my best memories of the festival come from our authors in the schools program, an adjunct to the festival. I have so many recollections, it’s difficult to pick just one. But here goes.

A few years ago a teacher wrote to me to say that one of her students quoted lines from a Katherina Vermette Governor General’s award book of poetry (North End Love Songs) in an assignment a full year after Katherina appeared and presented her book in the student’s class. The festival had (as we have done in the past) purchased class sets of Katherina’s book so the students involved in our authors in the schools program could read and study the book before they met the author. This story and so many others like it buoy me. I like to think we create life-long readers.

This wave of enthusiasm for authors and their written words is in a nutshell (I’m not known for my brevity) ultimately why I do it.

Thanks again to those of you who have already donated to our cause. We have a little further to go before our January 15th cut off so you’ll get one more update from me, then I promise to leave you alone. Really!

Any amount helps. And donations over $25 will receive an electronic tax receipt in the name of the donor.
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This will be the last update and push before the New Year. Christmas is a good time to take a break, don’t you think? I will be back at the beginning of 2017 with a final drive toward our fundraising goal of $30,000 for the Whistler Writers Festival.

Thanks again to those of you who have already donated to our cause. We have now received some $8,000 in donations.

And if you still haven't donated, please know that any amount helps. And donations over $25 will receive an electronic tax receipt in the name of the donor.

Merry Christmas everyone. Thanks so much for your generosity and support. All the best in 2017. Will update you again with one final push early in the new year. Stella
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Speaking of Christmas giving, please don’t forget the Whistler Writers Festival on your list (I’m relentless. I know). Our fundraising campaign continues.
Any amount helps. And donations over $25 will receive an electronic tax receipt in the name of the donor.
Thanks again to those of you who have already donated to our cause. We have now received some $7,300 in donations. Incredible! Our goal is $30,000. Thanks for the support. I appreciate it. Stella
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$14,227 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 169 people in 22 months
Created November 20, 2016
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$500
Anonymous
19 months ago (Offline Donation)
CW
$100
Caroline Woodward
19 months ago

All best wishes to Stella and her mighty team of Whistler volunteers for creating a wonderful Festival!

$150
Anonymous
20 months ago (Offline Donation)
$100
Anonymous
20 months ago (Offline Donation)
LB
$50
Lachlan Brown
20 months ago

Good work, Stella!

$50
Anonymous
20 months ago
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