Q & A with the CEO: Julia Whitehead

Following the successful completion of the first phase of our two-phase fundraising campaign for Kurt’s “Forever Home,” I’ve received kind messages of support, additional unexpected donations, and several good questions. I have some answers for those who asked. 

Did you pay a fundraising consultant to help you raise more than a million dollars in 75 days?

No. We have used a few great companies in the past to help us with campaigns, but we did not have the funds for that type of support this time. We decided to try it on our own. We knew we had a great story  and an “it’s now or never” urgency.

Then, how did you do it?

We called on all of our past donors, including celebrity friends to help. We had nearly 1,400 donors to our campaign! We could not have done this without people here in Indianapolis like Mickey and Janie Maurer, who know about raising funds and gave us great advice. Their organization Mickey’s Camp is a fun, educational organization that gives a portion of proceeds back to community non-profits. Much of our campaign success relates to their advice and their encouragement of others to match their personal pledge. Then there is Frank Basile. Frank and his wife Katrina sponsored our community room that will open in the fall. Frank put in the good word with others about our plans for a building with a satellite Bluebeard café on our first floor. Also, DevLab donated the creation of videos.

Comedian Lewis Black spoke about us on his radio show, held a fundraiser for us in New York, and agreed to host future events for us. Another radio personality, Tony Katz held a local telethon one morning,  raising $11,000 (Tony – The Colts came back near the end and matched the Pacers’ $5,000 pledge!).  Then, there were individuals who helped us raise more than $13,000 through a Crowdrise campaign.  Additionally, many of you attended our Night of Vonnegut event that raised nearly $200,000 in cash and pledges! Finally, in addition to the shout out from the folks at Hell World that led to many more gifts, our Slaughterhouse-Five fundraisers pledged $50,000 to finish out the campaign. We thank you, Slaughterhouse-Five!

What happens during the second phase of your campaign?

KVML now begins the second phase of our campaign. We will delay the creation and unveiling of these exhibits for the public until we are able to fund them, so please keep the gifts coming. All of these exhibits need your support, and there are naming opportunities available in addition to smaller donation opportunities:

  • Kurt Vonnegut Mural on exterior north wall created by muralist Pamela Bliss.
  • Vonnegut and Jazz Outdoor Visitor Experience.
  • Peculiar Travel Suggestions Are Dancing Lessons From God Exhibition. This is a new exhibit plan, as we discovered we have the perfect space for it. It will include Vonnegut’s unusual travel from Dresden to Nigeria to the Galapagos Islands and many more of his happy and not-so-happy adventures. PLUS, we want your photos of traveling with Kurt.
  • Slaughterhouse-Five Permanent Exhibition, with a walk-through tunnel of the firebombing of Dresden experience as well as original art by veterans. We kick this one off in November with veteran and artist Lance Miccio’s Slaughterhouse-50 exhibit.
  • [Your Name] Smoking Lounge, tucked away on a balcony with a private entrance. It wouldn’t be the Vonnegut Library if we turned away smokers.
  • Vonnegut’s Indiana Room, a private and educational experience for those who are card-carrying members of the Vonnegut Library.
  • The Rosewater Foundation Board Room, which will double as the CEO’s office.
  • Freedom of Expression Exhibition. Working with Free Speech Library and other organizations, this exhibit will be unveiled at our grand opening, but we are seeking funding to make it the robust educational experience that will test your knowledge on our First Amendment rights. KVML will work with Indiana Writers Center and other organizations to create monthly programming around free speech topics for all of the arts and humanities.

We need funds for all of these programs. Invest in us! We are a worthy investment! We have 1,400 recent donors to back up our statement.

Thanks again, and we will keep you updated on our progress. If you have other questions, please do not hesitate to ask me. You may email me at [email protected] vonnegutlibrary.org or call me at (317) 652-1954.


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