Adam Mackintosh: The Art of Asking

ringoCHICAGO —  “I operate differently. I don’t think outside the box – the truth is, I don’t believe there is a box,” says Adam Mackintosh the former general manager at Chicago’s School of Rock. His methods have proved successful. During his three year tenure with the school, he raised over $30,000 for scholarships.

Adam attributes his success to his mission, rather than to himself. “My cause is unique,” he says. “I passionately feel that every child who wants to attend music school should have that opportunity. I made scholarships a priority.”

Adam took things to the street and that was how he developed a fortuitous relationship with the Merchant Giving Project. “I set up a songwriting showcase at a local bicycle shop that also doubled as a coffee shop. A very hip place. Cool people. “It caught on and the neighborhood took it on as its own.”

“People started showing up with guitars. Sometimes, they’d just perform a cappella to show off something they had just written.” The showcase started attracting regulars too. Mackintosh says of one of them, “A guy named Doug came every month. Never said a word. After the third month, he approached me. We chatted. He was very engaged in the shows. I asked him what he did and he told me he was involved with the Merchant Giving Project.”

“I found out how the organization created funding possibilities for charitable organizations by partnering with local businesses. Enrollees donated a portion of credit card processing fees to the charity of their choice,” explained Adam. “I could see right away if you were billing a lot, these donations could be substantial.”

Mackintosh also got involved with, and had kind words for Tix4Cause president and co-founder Annette Koch. “Annette and her team were great to work with. She set our school up with our own page for ticket sales. Parents could go there to buy School of Rock show tickets for themselves and their friends, and know that they were supporting the scholarship fund. Once that was established, people started going there to get their tickets for other events – say, a Blackhawks game – and they could donate to our scholarship fund… or to whatever charity they liked.”

Adam cautioned that this method of fundraising can require a bit of patience. “You have to understand that these donations are incremental, but they do add up over time.”

Often times, the biggest help with fundraising comes through personal relationships. Adam brings up his friendship with songwriter and musician Damon Ranger of the band Blackbox. “I invited him over to the school to see the kids perform Cheap Trick’s ‘Surrender.’ He was blown away. He got the performance on his phone and sent it to Cheap Trick’s Rick Neilsen … who wrote right back to us.”

“Damon was really engaged and he had channels open to him that were very different from what we had. He found us all kinds of donors,” says Adam. It paid off. “Through those donations,” he says, “We were able to fund 14 students for a full year.”

“You have to be personally invested outside the school and be a part of the community,” Adam suggests when it comes to successful fundraising. “Share your passion,” he advises. Most of all, he says, “Ask people to help you however they can. Get them engaged and get them involved. And, remember, when it comes to the art of asking, you can ask anything!”


For more information, visit Tix4Cause at and Merchant Giving Project at