Wowee, I sure do hate asking for things. I hate asking for help, I hate admitting I need things, and I especially, especially hate asking for money. Money sucks! And it’s also, they say, a bit essential to make anything happen in this current paradigm. Is paradigm the right word? Doesn’t it mean, like, a good thing? But I digress.
Mushing dogs is not cheap. It’s the process of having fun while making poop, more or less. If there was a market for poop, we’d be set, but dog scat ain’t no manure (it’s way too high in nitrogen, if I understand correctly– I think with some effort you can eventually get it to be an “okay” compost. Not worth it’s weight in… anything, really, though).
If you’re a follower of ATAO, you’ve seen that we do fundraisers each year, especially around the fall. That’s when our biggest season expenses come out to play.
“But,” you note, “Will! You have a Patreon (a monthly subscription service) with X-number of subscribers! That means every month you are getting a decent amount of money! Why are you fundraising???”
Truthfully, ATAO would not exist, full stop, without Patreon. Our monthly subscriptions quite literally keep everything going. Here are some things that the monthly Patreon pledges cover:
What: The main expense that the subscriptions end up covering each month
Why: Dogs gotta eat!
How much: 50% of pledges (in off season)
What: Compensation for the amazing “Away Team,” who are responsible for bringing you content throughout the year and especially during race time
Why: Running a kennel and sharing its stories requires an IMMENSE amount of work from a whole team of people. Asking that kind of dedication for free is not fair in this system. I believe very strongly in paying for labor. I can never pay them enough but I am committed to paying!
How much: 25-50% of pledges, depending on activity
What: Monthly content expenses, such as for Mailchimp, web services, software to help the Away Team work, etc
Why: We want to bring you interesting, interactive content that will give access to mushing in a new way. Providing this inside look is part of our overall dream. Achieving that requires some tools.
How much: 15% of pledges
What: Repayment of credit from 2021 Iditarod
Why: Because I’m so bad at asking for money, part of making it to the start line of the 2021 Iditarod was taking some advance credit from PayPal and Patreon. I was lucky to be able to do so. Now a good portion of our monthly income goes back to these two repayments.
How much: 20% of pledges
You will probably see that this doesn’t add up to less than 100% even in the best case. The rest of those funds come from my day job.
When race season rolls around, we have some pretty big financial hurdles that we have to overcome in order to make the season happen.
Let’s all be clear… Mushing is a pretty, um, isolated? Individual? Okay, let’s be real, it’s pretty selfish. This is why I have such a hard time asking for money– Or, when I do, being frank about how much to ask for. I *always* lowball it, because I definitely struggle with feelings of guilt about using this amount for something that, in some ways, feels just for me.
However, I have said this before, and I’ve heard people say back that our team DOES give something back to them, through the stories we share and the world we open up.
Being able to share those stories and to open up that world is really important to me, because of how much you’ve given. I don’t understand how anyone could possibly get the amount of joy from watching us mush as we do mushing– But I’m trying my hardest to believe you do!
This year, instead of giving an extremely under-estimated sum total of how much I expect the season to cost, and then panic-upping it when I hit the wall before a race, I decided to ignore the big number (don’t look at it, don’t look at it, yes last year cost more than $50k, yes that’s almost double my personal salary at work) and break down the costs individually. One, I’m hoping to be more accountable and real about what the kennel needs to operate– I can’t keep taking out lines of credit because that’s A Terrible Plan. Two, I hope it allows y’all to see where all of the money goes (spoiler: it goes to dog and mushing things).
I’ve built a fundraising portal that shows what we need, when we need it, and how our progress is on getting it. For a couple things (and hopefully more soon), I’ve provided access to ways to pay for the items directly, instead of going through PayPal or another payment platform that skims off the top. So you can choose what you want to contribute towards, and then, if you choose, you can get direct updates about those goals. Like, if you decide to help out with straw, you’ll get an email (if you choose) with an update when we GET the straw, and maybe when the dogs get to enjoy it the first time (they effing love straw).
Every goal is a piece of the larger picture. A large picture! A slightly overwhelming one.
But, unlike decades ago when I felt like owning a kennel would be totally impossible, I’m allowing myself to believe and realize that, when folks can, they are eager to support and be part of this team. Whether that’s just by reading this and sharing our stories, or by contributing a little when you can. It all means an immense amount: it’s all part of how we make it to “GO.”
Thank you to everyone who has already dedicated time, interest, and money to this crew of goofy dogs and their humans. If I think about what you’ve given being for them, I can definitely understand. I’ll take myself out of the equation, then, and let it be cool that those who have been able to donate do it because they love the dogs, just like I do. Oh, except, I did put one goal for pizza because. It’s pizza.
Check out the fundraiser at ataokennel.com/gear/support. You can poke around, donate, and see how the goal goes.
Thank you again, always.