Well, now I can officially say it: WE DID IT! WE HANDED THE BAGPIPES OVER TO MALCOLM!
RECAP – A quick summary of how this project got started and what we accomplished
GoFundMe Page – The outpouring of support that made it possible
VIDEO – All Video credit to Nekoro Bunsie of Bananaz Productions222
For those of you visiting this page for the first time, here is a quick recap of the story so you don’t have to read through the entire blog.
For the loyal followers (you guys are the source of my inspiration,) here’s how the story wrapped up. I reached out to Olivia, Brandon’s (HONY) manager once more to update her on our continuing success, and then figured that since Brandon is overseas doing amazing work with the UN, we better find another photographer. Fortunately, a very talented man I know, Jonathan Rios or JR Photography, does amazing work and was available on short notice. He suggested that he bring a videographer with us – Nekoro Bunsie of Bananaz Productions222, and the result was incredible.
It was, as usual, a little hard to track Malcolm down, but Michael was indispensable as always, and we set our time for 3PM on Saturday. I was a little worried Malcolm might not show, and anxious to jump into the process. Although the project had never been about me, I was nervous I’d somehow muck it up. Brandon, after all, has talked to thousands of people on the streets of New York. Although I’m not shy, I’ve never had such amazing practice. But, there was nothing left to do but show up, so I did. Having Jonathan and Nekoro by my side, professional and ready, was definitely very encouraging. Moreover, Angela, one of our donors, came to support us!
Malcolm was overjoyed. I can’t say much more to that extent, only that you should see the photos and watch the video. His level of professionalism was wonderful, and we had a good long conversation about his background, his passion for piping, and his life. I encourage you to watch the video.
I handed over the remaining $7.14 in an envelope. Every last cent you donated has gone to Malcolm.
And here we are! We’ve come from a desire to help to giving Malcolm “the best set of pipes” he’s ever used (his words!) Here is what I learned:
- Given the right motivation, people do incredible, wonderful things for each other in kind and generous ways. Donating as you did was extraordinary. We gave a musician the gift of a lifetime on a very tight timeline. What you may not realize is how much of a difference all your comments – here, on Facebook, and through the GoFundMe page – made to me. They inspired me to do my best for us every day.
- Fundraising is complex. The amount of responsibility I felt for the funds donated was immense. I wanted to make sure, as I keep saying, that I stayed transparent and accountable every step of the way. The individual steps weren’t complex. I made phone calls, tried to respond to emails promptly, researched tax code, tracked down Malcolm and Michael, etc. However, put together, it was quite a project to juggle. On that note, if you’re fundraising, watch out for fundraising fees, and check out what taxes you might have to pay! We ended up giving up almost 11% in fees.
- You have to be careful on the internet. The thing that amazed me the most this whole time is how trusting you were to a stranger on the internet. On of the first comments, when I first set up the GoFundMe, was – “wait for the official word from HONY! This could be a scam.” And honestly, I felt a little put off, because I knew I wasn’t scamming anyone. However, through the project, this made much more sense. Surely, when you donated $5, $10 – though some of you $50 and $100, you realized there was some inherent risk. However, watching the money go through my personal bank account, I was amazed by just how close I was to the funds. As I mentioned above, I compensated by trying to be 100% transparent. However, I understand that not everyone is. I can’t thank you enough for trusting me – but please, be careful.
- With a bit of effort, we can move mountains. Well, to be fair, we didn’t move a mountain. But we got a man a custom-made set of a rare instrument from one of the finest makers in the world. We tracked down said maker in Bulgaria. We had the pipes shipped across the Atlantic. Guys – we rock! If you want to make something happen, go out and do it.
So, what’s next?
- Stop by Michael’s Union Square bookstand to buy a book – they’re dirt cheap – or just to talk to Michael! If you want to donate books, comment/email me.
- If you’d like to hear Malcolm play, or book him for your gig, let me know! I’d be happy to put you in touch.
- Any othe comments/feedback/suggestions are welcome!
I think this would be a good time to thank some people without whom this wouldn’t have been possible:
First, thank you to Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York. His keen eye found Malcolm amongst the faces on the streets of New York. Brandon brought this story to us, and made a true difference. While we worked independently, Brandon’s manager Olivia patiently communicated with me through the process.
Second, thank YOU for stepping up and supporting this campaign, and supporting me through this campaign.
Third, thank you to Michael, Malcolm’s bookstand partner, for helping put us in touch and facilitating everything. We would have never succeeded without his guidance.
Fourth, thank you to my friends who guided and listened to me through this project – the lovely Jenn Levy, Manar Alherech, James Mayr, and Felicia Scalzetti – who was the very first person to learn about this fundraiser. She found the time to listen to me – even in the midst of her birthday.