For most nonprofit organizations, the last two months of the year represent the period in which corporate and individual fundraising activities hit peak levels. This is the time when businesses determine how much money they can afford to donate to charitable causes and when individuals are most likely to write checks out of the goodness of their hearts. However, donations need not always be made on a purely cash basis (one can donate securities, real estate, life insurance, art, antiques, jewelry, valuable books, or records), and gifts made in the form of a bequest or charitable remainder trust can be written into a person's will in order to help an opera company prosper after a donor's demise.
Although the tax laws regarding deductions for charitable contributions keep changing, there are two precious and wholly untaxable gifts which, throughout the year, we all give to opera. One is our basic love for the art form; the other is word of mouth. Together, these are invaluable when it comes to performing a vital missionary function. Other support comes in a surprising variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors, and two types of donors can never receive enough thanks for their steady stream of contributions. Although the gifts they give do not come in the form of money, throughout the season many non-union people employed in the opera world (ushers, supernumeraries, administrators, secretaries, photographers, journalists, receptionists, etc.,) expend tremendous amounts of energy while performing services which lie far above and beyond the call of duty.
These folks often work unscheduled hours during peak production periods, run crazy last-minute errands and help to defuse the numerous insane crises which beset every opera company. They are rarely thanked for their efforts and yet, if these people were less willing to pitch in at the last minute in order to further a cause in which they passionately believe, we'd all be in pretty hot water.
In a similar vein, the nation's vast army of volunteers frequently prevent this industry (and for that matter, America's entire nonprofit sector) from grinding to a dead halt. The gifts these people give both in kind as well as in kindness deliver multiples of the goods and services which a donor's money can buy.
Since this is, traditionally, a season for giving and the making of new resolutions, we'd like to suggest that you start the New Year off by giving a very special gift which will help opera prosper in America. It's an important gift -- the gift of knowledge -- and, as we all know, knowledge is power.
By giving someone a subscription to Opera Monthly, you can help us join hands with America's professional opera community to achieve an important long-range educational goal. The better-informed our readers become, the better-equipped they will be to enjoy the operatic art form. Educated audiences soon become educated donors, and those opera companies which receive their support are most likely to thrive and show a greater willingness to commission and produce new works.
New works and the broadening of the repertoire help to increase the public's awareness and excitement about opera, thus whetting the appetite for more knowledge about the operatic art form. So help us to complete this important cycle of learning by empowering yourself and your friends to share in the excitement of exploring America's cultural frontiers by subscribing to Opera Monthly.
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This article originally appeared in the January 1989 issue of Opera Monthly magazine.