campaign: Twenty Project
raising the money: 20-year-old Kayla Frost of Tempe, Arizona
raised so far: $1,762
mission statement: “We are all human beings on this planet together. Let’s help each other. Let’s fill the world with compassion and love and beauty. We can’t do everything, but we can do something — and it matters.”
Good things do come to those who ask. From famous actors to local indie bands, Kayla’s reached out to anyone she’d like to join her cause and many have said yes. As a result, she’s raised nearly $2,000 for clean water. We caught up with her to see how she’s been able to loop in artists from around the world to support her campaign:
I’m a word nerd. I study journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. I enjoy painting and I love, love, love music, but the ‘art’ I’m trying to develop is that of storytelling.
Tell us how Twenty Project works.
Basically, I use my Tumblr blog to help people understand the water crisis, who it affects and how they can help. I encourage direct donations but also sell artwork and songs donated to Twenty as an incentive.
Once people buy the art, I go to my mycharity: water campaign page and donate that amount of money. I designate where the money came from in the comments. That way people can be certain that all the money they paid is going straight to charity: water, and we can all watch progress.
Inspired by charity: water’s 100% model, I donate every dollar of each sale. That means that I do have to pay money out of my own pocket each time, since all of the sites I use to sell the art — Ebay, Etsy and Bandcamp — profit from a portion of each sale.
So far, I’ve raised $1,762 but my goal is $5,000 by the end of this year.
I also post interviews and pictures from the contributing artists from time to time to make things fun and to shed light on the people who are donating their talents and efforts to Twenty Project.
I’ve gotten to know people in the music business since I was in high school. I used to cover music for a local magazine, so I would interview musicians and go to concerts like crazy. Sometimes we would actually become friends. One of the big supporters of Twenty is the band VersaEmerge. I met them at a concert I went to for fun in St. Louis. When it came time to ask artists to contribute, I started with people I already knew. From there, I emailed artists and musicians or their publicists and managers, asking them to get involved. Once Twenty got off the ground, some artists actually reached out to me asking if they could help.
Oh, and I met Adrian Grenier at the charity: ball in December, before I had officially started Twenty. I told him my plan and asked him if he wanted to help. Surprisingly, he said yes. Never hurts to ask!
Having artists support the cause helps spread the word… combining their voices and resources with mine is like using a megaphone because they have much larger audiences than I do.
Where did you get the initial idea for Twenty Project?
For months I’d been trying to think of a way to make my 20th year of life special. I wanted a project I would be completely responsible for and that tied to my interests… I was painting one day and suddenly the idea popped into my head, fully-formed. I guess I have my subconscious to thank for that; it connected the dots for me.
What drives you to continue raising funds and awareness about the water crisis?
I feel like I’m really making a difference, and I want people to understand that they can, too. Water is so fundamental to life, and it pains me to think of people — especially children — who have so much potential but so little chance to use it because they lack the clean, safe water that allows them to learn and live.
There is a poem called “The Difference He Made” that illustrates my feelings about doing what I can to help. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. And that matters.
Can you explain how art ties into the water issue (or does it)?
The human spirit burns brightly through art. Art can be beautiful or tragic, filled with hope, love, struggle. When I’m captivated by a piece of art or music, I feel connected to other people. The mission for clean water might at first seem distant from art, but I think it hits on the same elements of humanity. We’re all on this planet together as human beings. We all hope, love, struggle. I think it’s only right to lend a hand — or a dollar, or whatever it is we can give — to help out people who lack such a basic human need.
In a less abstract way, artists supporting the cause help spread the word. Combining their voices and resources with mine is like using a megaphone because they have much larger audiences than I do. I’ve found the artistic community, both the artists themselves and the art lovers, to be extremely supportive.
What’s been the biggest accomplishment in the campaign so far?
Every donation or sale through Twenty is an accomplishment. Because then I know someone really understood the message I’m trying to pass along. But if I had to choose, I would say: selling a painting by Sierra, singer of VersaEmerge, for $405. It turned out that the person who won the bid is a college student like myself, worried about making rent. In a blog he posted after receiving the painting, he said, “Knowing that I helped 20 people get clean water immediately washed my concerns away. $400 seemed so minuscule now. I can’t begin to explain to you what this feels like, but it’s incredible. I feel connected to these people.”
I was also in disbelief when the founder of charity: water himself, Scott Harrison, donated to my campaign. I won’t deny that I ran in circles around my room after that happened.
Any big plans/other ideas in store to promote your campaign?
At the end of the year, I plan to throw a benefit concert to celebrate music, art and giving. I want the concert to have a gallery of art for sale from local artists, so there can be lots of ways to help by attending the event.
I’m also donating my 21st birthday to charity: water. That doesn’t have to do with art, exactly, but that will still raise more money and spread the word.
Any advice for other fundraisers who are thinking about corralling a community around their campaign?
Think through your campaign, do your research about charity: water and the water crisis, and then just go for it. Don’t be afraid to ask people to help out. The worst you can get is “no.” But if you approach it with knowledge and passion, a lot of people will be enthusiastic to help. Everyone has talents. Find a way to harness yours!