Dancing for a Cause, Improved Edition

Crossposted with minor edits from Coffeefied,Operafied,Fluffified, Beglittered

Last year, I was a dancer for Shimmy Mob, a group of belly dancers who work to raise funds for women’s shelters.  It was terribly run and pointless, so this year, I ran a team.

 My goal was to be better than last year in a few specific points:
  • Have rehearsals be accessible.  Last year the Atlanta team was run out of Roswell, and all rehearsals and events were at 6:30 on Fridays. No one who actually lives in Atlanta can get to Roswell at 6:30 on a Friday because of the way traffic works.
  • Dance in better venues than empty parking lots.  Because really.
  • Have a sign indicating what we are doing.  Otherwise, even if we leave the empty parking lots, we are a bunch of random yahoos doing a flash mob and no one cares.
  • Raise funds for a shelter that is interested in having us raise funds for them.   Last year, the recipient for all funds raised was a shelter in the middle of a move, and they said they couldn’t actually take any money from us.

Being better than this may seem like, and is, a low bar to stumble over, but we did it, in all particulars!

  • We had rehearsals Wednesday evenings and sometimes Thursdays and everyone who was going to participate showed up at least once.
  • We danced in the Decatur square, in the middle of the Marta courtyard, and in the courtyard of a coffee shop.  People saw us.
  • We made a sign!  I love our sign. So much bling and blinkie lights.  More importantly, it says what we are doing.

More importantly, carrying around a sign, we look sort of official-ish, and people actually asked what we were doing.  We told them, gave them fliers I had printed off with a list of safe house addresses and numbers and asked people to post them in public restrooms, because that’s a great place to leave things to help people who might be in trouble. People also gave us some donations at the actual event.  It was in the tens of dollars, but I don’t care.  People were willing to just hand me spare cash they had in their pockets to support the shelter.  Speaking of:

  • We raised funds for the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence.  They sounded excited when we talked to them. They can accept donations, and if we can ever get it scheduled, we may be teaching a free class to some of the women they serve.  Lesson: scheduling anything takes forever and should be started many months in advance.  That aside, not only are they willing to accept donations, we raised $2111.50 for them.

That is how you do charity events.  It’s not enough to just decide that something, anything, is worthwhile, take pictures of it, and post the pictures to Facebook. Which is not to say I didn’t post stuff to Facebook, that being the best way I know to advertise things.  However, it should not be the main focus of causes.

I’m proud of myself, and proud of my team of dancers.  We stepped up and created an event for a shelter that was interested in getting funds, we raised a nontrivial amount of funds for them, and we had some community involvement.  We made this work!

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Elizabeth is a professional belly dancer, a flaky computer scientist, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer. She lives in Georgia (the state of the U.S., not the country) but is nonetheless somehow not a combination of stereotypes from Gone with the Wind and Deliverance. Her personal blog is Coffeefied. Operafied. Fluffified. Beglittered.

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