Fundraising and an Indie Record Label

Sara Leonard News, Stories

WUSF, our local NPR station (, had a great story about XL Recordings and for just a minute I thought they were talking about fundraising. “A Record Label With a Midas Touch” tells the story of XL Recordings, a British independent record company owned by Richard Russell. Though I’d never heard of XL Recordings, I’d certainly heard of their biggest recording artist: Adele. Last year, Adele’s 21 spawned three chart-topping singles and won six Grammys. Full disclosure: she’s on my iPod.

In the NPR story, Russell talks about his desire to concentrate on great music and leave the other parts of the business – selling records and paying people – to others on his team. XL-signed artist Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij describes it this way, “That same philosophy – know your limitations, work with people who can do things you can’t, and let them do their job – extends to the label’s musicians.” That is a great philosophy for development work.

Know your limitations – Every day we are called on to do work that is beyond the scope of our jobs. In an effort to “never say no” we take on tasks that distract us from the ultimate goal of bringing together people who will invest in the mission of our organization. We have to know when to call on others – board members, volunteers, other staff, consultants – to provide the added capacity to accomplish great things.

Work with people who can do things you can’t – With each recruitment, be it paid staff or volunteer, we have the opportunity to surround ourselves with talented people who can do things we haven’t learned to do. For instance, many of us are stymied by social networking. Chances are that someone in our organizations loves that and would be excited to put their talents to use.

Let them do their job – Our nervousness to let others take a project and run with it can hinder our ability to get more done and ultimately raise more money. When we allow others to do their jobs, everyone benefits: us, them, and ultimately the community that benefits from the work of our organization.

More full disclosure: three Adele songs played on the office Pandora during the writing of this blog. I think that’s proof that XL Recordings is onto something.

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