Fundraiser Toolkit

We organizers are excited to help you fund your way to the Radical Mycology Convergence. While we do not turn anyone away from the entering for not having money to donate, we do have significant expenses when putting this event together. We want to grow in what the RMC has to offer as well as build a healthy space that fosters learning and creativity. Thus, if you can, we are hoping that you can find a way to raise some funds to be able to donate to the cause and help future Convergences continue to evolve.

To help, we have put together a list of suggested steps to take and workshop outlines to throw a successful fundraiser in your area. While asking your community to support you can be challenging, it’s generally a lot of fun to bring folks together around a cause you believe in and ultimately it will help expand awareness of fungi far beyond your individual experience as everyone who invests in you will be invested in learning what comes from your experience at the RMC.

Here are some guidelines and ideas to help you set your fundraising plan in motion.
Good luck!

Determine Your Fundraising Goal

1. Figure out how much time you have to earn money and fundraise until the course starts.
Example:   The Convergence is at the beginning of October, and it is now only March, you have over 7 months to fundraise and support your trip.

2. Determine the amount you need:
You will need the course fee, airfare and expenses. You might also have expenses while you are gone (rent, bills, etc.)
Example:
Suggested donation     $300
Gas expense                     $200
Expenses while away    $100
TOTAL                           $600

3. Determine how much you can earn or have saved to put towards the total.
Example: You have $100 in earnings and/or savings by the deadline.

4. You now have your fundraising GOAL!
Example: Total costs:   $600, Total available:  $100
Fundraising Goal:   $500 in 11 weeks

For some people, it will be easier to work an extra job than to fundraise. Fundraising takes time and attention to detail, plus you have to really put yourself out there and be convincing. But if your dollar amount is high, job prospects minimal, get psyched and go for the fundraising!

Strategies

When an individual in my community stands up with conviction, regarding any radical or earth based issue, whether here or abroad I pay attention. Simply stating “This is what I want to do, this is why, this is who I am going to study with, and this is what I will bring back to share” will yield results.

1. Organize your thoughts
Think about why this convergence is important to you, what you hope to learn, why you like these teachers, the location, and why are you doing it now. Will this enhance what you are already doing, or is it an entirely new direction for you? If you are a student can you apply the convergence towards your studies, if you’re a professional do the workshops dovetail somehow with your work, can you get the company to subsidize part of your expenses? How did you get involved with Radical Mycology or mushroom growing – through friends, colleagues, learning on your own? How has the Convergence impacted other people you know, and what is it about this particular event that has inspired you? Take some time to answer all these questions, in writing, and draft a letter. Then ask someone to edit it for you.

2. Contact Family, Friends, and Colleagues
People will want to know some details:

– Why are you pursuing this
– How much do you need, and for what
– How much are you asking me for – $20, $50, $100
– How much are you paying for yourself – people like to know you’re working for it
– Who has already donated and how much – you get a lot of mileage if you are part way towards your goal.
– Where, with who, etc. – talk up the professors, place, etc.
– What is Radical Mycology?
– What will you do with the money if you exceed your fundraising goal – donate it to Radical mycology or bring along another person to share the experience
– What will you bring back to share – slideshow, lecture, workshops etc. when you return, for schools, community, etc.

3. Host a Movie Screening
$10- $20 suggested donation at the door for movies such as Solution To The PollutionThe Science of DecayNausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Super Mario Bros..

4. Hold a Secret Cafe
Get food donations from local stores and farmer’s markets, try gleaning, get some of your foodie friends together to make a menu and collect tables, chairs, and dishes. Serve mushroom-based dishes, miso soup, tempeh, blue cheese, fermented beverages, and bread. Have an acoustic musician play some tunes to add to the ambiance.

5. Give a workshop on simple mushroom cultivation.
$5-50 suggested donation for a workshop on how to grow oyster mushrooms on fermented wheat straw. For a suggested outline of how to organize a workshop like this, see below.

6. Ask to give a lecture/slideshow at local community clubs, especially where people already know you.
Rotary club
Lions club
Local chapter of environmental groups
Student groups at universities
For womyn – try the Soroptimists and AAUW (American Association of Univ. Women)
Master Gardeners

7. Throw a party or house concert
Ask musician friends if they’ll play a gig for you, or a DJ to spin a great dance party, ask to local stores and farmer’s markets for food donations, put together a small presentation of sorts, have a silent auction at the party, or even a live auction. Get friends to donate things for a silent auction like an hour massage, oil change, babysitting, yard work, photography, art, home baked pie, etc.
Make sure everyone knows it’s a fundraiser for the Radical Mycology Convergence! Have a couple big jars to put cash in, and have the bands or MC make announcements about the RMC between songs/sets.

Suggested outline for a Mushroom Cultivation Workshop

This workshop will demonstrate a simple way for people to grow an abundance of mushrooms using a minimal amount of fossil fuels. Each participant will be able to walk home with mushroom spawn that they can watch grow and fruit on their kitchen counter.

  • Gather/source supplies:
    • Wheat straw (not hay). Found at farm supply / animal feed store
    • 2 garbage cans and heavy duty (3 mil) trash bags
    • Oyster (Pleurotus spp.) mushroom spawn (ask local mushroom growers for discounts or “spent” kits that have already fruited mushrooms but still contain active growing mycelium). Ideally the mycelium is fresh, free from contamination, and of a fast growing variety
    • Scissors, mulch shredder, or wood chipper
    • Plastic bags. Ideally these would be fresh mushroom cultivation bags such as those from Uline. But you can also try to use grocery store bags
    • Spray bottle filled from 70% isopropyl alcohol (you can get it from any pharmacy)
    • X-shaped arrowhead or other puncturing device
  • Pick a date and location and suggested donation (e.g. $5-20, no one turned away for lack of funds). Choose a date at least a few weeks out to give plenty of time to spread the word and get a good turn out.
  • Make a flyer, send a press release to the papers, and make an event on social media
  • 10 days before the event fill one of the trash cans with hose water. Let this water sit out, with the lid off the trashcan, to allow the chlorine in the water to evaporate out (the chlorine hurts the mycelium and the microbes you want to have ferment the straw)
  • The next day, put a trash bag in the other garbage can. Using the mulch shredder, wood chipper, or scissors, cut the straw into 1-3″ pieces until you have enough pieces of straw to fill the trash bag in the trash can. Fill the trash bag in the trash can with the straw pieces and cover this straw with the water you let sit out. Twist down any remaining trash bag that is above the straw/water, put a heavy stone or weight on the bag to keep the straw below the water level, and put the lid on the trash can.
  • Let the trash can sit out in a warm place outside for 7 days if you are in a warmer climate. If you are in a colder environment, adjust your dates so the water ferments for 12 days.
  • Once the straw has fermented it will be sticky and there will be a film on top of the water. This is good. It means that the fermentation process has allowed the anaerobic microbes to eat the aerobic microbes, neutralize competitive fungal spores, break down the waxy coating on the straw, and hydrate the straw so that your mushroom mycelium can grow on it easily in the lack of the presence of competitive fungi.
  • Pour the majority of this water into your slow/cold compost pile to increase the anaerobic bacteria population. It will make your pile more sticky, so beware!
  • Loosely twist up the top of the trash bag, flip the can upside down and let the rest of the water drip off the straw for  1-2 days.
  • On the day of your workshop, gather the rest of your materials and prepare for fun.
  • When participants arrive it will be up to you and your group to decide how much of a background you feel able to give on the concepts and principles of mushroom cultivation. At the very least, you can simply tell them that this is a fundraiser for your group to learn more details on mycology and cultivation so that you can come back and teach more in-depth workshops in the future. Be sure to gather donations at the beginning of the workshop.
  • The main point of the workshop will be to explain to the attendees how you prepared the straw and then for everyone to get a chance to make a personal bag stuffed with fermented straw and mushroom spawn.
  • Demonstrate how to make a mushroom bag by doing the following:
    • Wash your hands and spray them with alcohol.
    • Open a fresh plastic bag and fill the bottom 1″ with your drained, fermented straw. Pack the straw into all the nooks and crannies of the bag. You do not want any open gaps in the bag, it should be tightly packed. If there are big gaps within the straw, this allows for mushrooms to grow inside the bag. This is not good.
    • Open a mushroom spawn bag and break off enough to sprinkle the top of the straw layer with a thin layer of myceliated substrate (the kits you source will likely be in the form of mycelium growing on sawdust).
    • Add another layer of straw that, once compressed and compacted into the bag, fills another 1″ of the bag.
    • Add another thin layer of mycelium.
    • Repeat this process until the bag is 2/3-3/4 full.
    • Squeeze out as much air as you can by pressing the bag down and tie off the top of the bag. Again, you want to compress the straw and mycelium lasagna you just made so that there are no large air gaps in the bag.
    • Puncture the bag with the arrowhead or something similar with 2 holes per side and 2 on the bottom. The arrowhead is perfect because you can create a X-shaped puncture that will tear and open further as the mushrooms grow out of these holes. If you cannot access an X-shaped arrowhead, you can puncture these holes with anything sharp. The slip cut should be about 1/2″ long. Do not puncture the top of the bag.
  • From here, the bag should be placed in a cool place with indirect light. A kitchen counter works well. The mycelium will begin to grow on to the straw, slowly consuming the straw over a period of 2-4 weeks with little attention needed to help them grow. Once the straw is fully consumed the mycelium will begin to transform and begin to produce mushrooms that will fruit out of some of the holes that you punctured. These mushrooms need lots of humid air to fully develop. If they do not get enough moisture they will dry out and not grow fully.
  • To provide humidity, you can spray the mushrooms once they begin to develop with a spray bottle filled with non-chlorinated water a few times a day.
  • Allow the attendees to make their own straw/mycelium bag.
  • Consider printing off a modified version of this text for attendees to take home.
  • Call it a wrap and distribute high fives all round!

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