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An Analysis of a Major Gift Ask to a Drug Kingpin

In season three of HBO's The Wire, Dennis "Cutty" Wise has just been released from prison and is struggling to go straight. His dream is to open a boxing gym for the neighborhood kids but he's already been ridiculed by his potential clients about the poor quality of the gym equipment.

Cutty is broke but he does know one person with cash to spare—his former boss and drug kingpin Avon Barksdale. Most organizations would have to worry about receiving tainted money but for Cutty, this is not an issue. He decides to make an ask and here is how it goes:

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Can you make sure all my money goes straight to the kids?
Peep Show, Channel 4's Comedy Gala (2010)

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Nostalgia and Fundraising

I've been following the astonishing Kickstarter campaign for LeVar Burton's Reading Rainbow app. Last Wednesday (May 28), the campaign opened with a goal to raise $1 million by July 1. The goal was surpassed within 11 hours and in the first day, more than 40,000 people contributed almost $2 million to the project. The goal has now been increased to $5 million and as of this writing, they are more than halfway there less than a week into the campaign.

Even though Kickstarter is for for-profit enterprises, anyone who wants to do a charitable crowndfunding campaign can learn a lot from this. The Reading Rainbow team clearly did some excellent advanced planning, they have a compelling vision, and having a well-beloved celebrity spokesman doesn't hurt.

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