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Big Gigantic Proposal

OUR Big Gigantic Proposal

What We Do

Life Under the Wheel was founded in March of 2017. We believe that music festivals create communities bound together by a passion for music and a love of sharing that experience with others. Time and time again, we have witnessed that music festival patrons don’t care about race, gender, sexual orientation, or economic status. It’s as if they leave their differences behind once they walk through the festival gates. Inside those fences, everyone belongs. Because of our experiences, we decided that we wanted to share all the joys of the music festival experience with music lovers who might need it the most.  Thus, our Festival Grant program was born.

The mission of Life Under the Wheel is to provide individuals with life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to receive all of the richness of the music festival experience. Our Festival Grant program begins with the application or nomination of an individual.  If an applicant/nominee is awarded a Festival Grant, they will receive:

  • Tickets to the festival

  • Travel expenses (both to and from the event)

  • Appropriate accommodations for the grant recipient and one companion (or caregiver)

  • An on-site Life Under the Wheel concierge who will provide logistical support, and serve as a resource to the grant recipient during the entire duration of the event


Why We Do It

A life-threatening diagnosis is a life-changing event that can have a powerful impact on an individual. At Life Under the Wheel, we do not pretend to understand how this type of diagnosis affects a person. What we do know is that a music festival is a special place filled with a sense of community and a shared love of music. Our hope is that an individual who is awarded a Festival Grant from us will be able to experience all of the brilliance that a music festival has to offer. We are extremely fortunate to have professional careers in the music festival industry, and we wanted to create an opportunity for the community of music festival patrons to give back to their own. We hope that our Festival Grant program will be by the community, for the community.

According to the Bridgespan Group, a leading nonprofit consulting organization, Life Under the Wheel utilizes a funding model called the “Heartfelt Connector”.  In this model, a nonprofit focuses “on causes that resonate with the existing concerns of large numbers of people at all income levels, and by creating a structured way for these people to connect where none had previously existed”.  This model provides a nonprofit organization with the ability to utilize their mission to establish a deep resonance with potential donors, even if the nonprofit’s work “may never benefit them directly”.  As stated previously, our personal experience in the music festival industry has demonstrated that many of the 30+ million annual attendees of music festivals in the United States feel a sense of belonging to a community.  Tapping into this shared feeling of belonging is key to our program’s success.

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How We Do It

Program Operations

Our Festival Grant program consists of two primary components:

  • The execution of a Festival Grant with a grant recipient

  • An on-site promotional booth to engage a festival’s patrons in raising awareness of our program and conduct fundraising

The execution of the Festival Grant is not an experience that we script (beyond the logistics of travel and accommodations for the grant recipient). Our focus is upon maximizing the heartening effects for our grant recipient. We want them to have the freedom to enjoy the music festival in whatever way they see fit. We certainly attempt to enhance their experience, when possible, with special elements such as:

  • VIP amenities

  • Backstage access

  • Artist meet and greets

Ultimately, our goal is to set up our Festival Grant recipients for an amazing and memorable experience, within the boundaries of their comfort level. We fully recognize that some of our recipients simply desire to leave their diagnosis behind and immerse themselves in the music festival experience. While some others will want a much higher profile experience. The Life Under the Wheel Festival Grant program is individually tailored for each grant recipient.

The Festival Grant operations are fairly straightforward.  Originally, we planned to have open/rolling applications for our Festival Grant Program. However, once we began discussing the program with our Festival Partners most of them did not want to wait for an individual to choose their festival, they wanted a specific application for their event. Therefore, we changed our application model to have specific application periods for each festival, which are announced via social media and have a dedicated page on our website.

Once the application/nomination period is open for any given festival, individuals wishing to receive a Festival Grant or wishing to nominate someone for a festival grant complete our application/nomination form and submit a medical verification form. Our team then scores each application and select finalists to be interviewed. The finalists are emailed to set up a video interview with our selection committee (sometimes there are multiple interviews). We are looking for applicants/nominees who show a true passion for music, expressed interest in creating/deepening their connection to our community, and pure intentions for receiving the grant. The selection processes is extremely difficult as our applicant pool is full of wonderful individuals who all deserve to receive a Festival Grant. 

Once we select a recipient our team will coordinate with the grant recipient and festival partner to ensure (in advance) that any special needs related to their diagnosis are addressed.  Life Under the Wheel covers the costs for all flights, accommodations, and transportation for the Festival Grant recipient(s) and our on-site grant operations team. We ask the participating festival to provide the following:

  • Credentials for our festival grant recipient and their companion/caregiver

  • Credentials for our Festival Grant operations team

  • Parking credentials for our operation team’s vehicle

  • Golf cart (as needed)

  • Catering for our staff

  • Food vendor vouchers for our grant recipient & companion

The on-site promotional booth is utilized to conduct fundraising, sell official Life Under the Wheel merchandise, distribute promotional materials to raise awareness, and engage festival patrons with interactive components such as a photo booth. We ask the participating festival to provide the following:

  • Public facing 10x10 tent

  • Credentials for our promotional booth staff

  • Access to power and Internet at the booth

  • Branded signage for Life Under the Wheel or the ability to use our own

  • Permission to use festival logo and name for the photo booth

Festival Partners

Currently we have official partnerships with eight festivals across the U.S. including: Big Ears Festival, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Finding Euphoria, Forecastle Festival, High Water Festival, Life is Beautiful Music & Art Festival, Lost Lake Festival, and Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival. Each of our festival partners has chosen to lift up those music lovers who might need a little light and love in their lives.  We are forever grateful to them and all their hard work in providing a meaningful experience for our Festival Grant recipients. 

Marketing & Fundraising Plan

Life Under the Wheel is concerned with marketing to both potential donors and potential grant recipients.  Our official website has been our primary resource for introducing ourselves, clearly and succinctly defining our mission, presenting our Festival Grant program, allowing potential grant recipients to introduce themselves to us, and providing donors an easy and secure method for supporting our operations.  In addition to our official website, Life Under the Wheel has leveraged social media platforms (e.g. Facebook and Instagram) to create an engaging presence, and, ultimately, direct potential grant recipients and donors back to our official website.


We intend for a primary method of marketing and fundraising for Life Under the Wheel to be provided through the cooperation with our music festival partners.  Our desire is to have a public facing booth at as many music festivals as possible.  The primary purpose of this booth is to introduce the specific festival’s attendees to Life Under the Wheel’s mission and wish granting program, while simultaneously providing an opportunity to become a donor.

While much of our marketing resources are focused on development and fundraising, we will also apply meaningful effort to the identification of potential clients.  A life-threatening diagnosis will often lead individuals to seek professional assistance with coping with this life altering event.  With this in mind, we will make concerted efforts to identify professional organizations that assist individuals with managing a life-threatening diagnosis.  Once identified, we will introduce our program to these organizations in the hopes of developing partnerships, which will lead to increasing our exposure to potential clients that could benefit from the outputs of our mission and services.

We have also been producing a semi-annual (at minimum) newsletter that is distributed to all individuals that have subscribed to our electronic newsletter.  This newsletter contains stories of recent Festival Grants, announcements of new music festival partnerships that have been established, fundraising milestones that have been reached, press that we have received, staff profiles, upcoming volunteer opportunities, etc.  Regardless of specific content, we hope to clearly demonstrate to our existing donors that their donations are indeed making a difference to our clients, and to highlight the value of recurring giving.

Financial Plan

Our three expected revenue sources are as follows:

  • Direct contributions and merchandise sales from individual donors

  • Public fundraising events both internally produced and co-productions through partnerships with business entities that want to support our operations

  • Foundation grants and corporate giving

The principle source of our recurring revenue (to this point) has come from direct donations made by individuals. In 2017, we received financial support from friends, family, colleagues, and festival patrons from across the country. These donations came in the form of online donations, on-site contributions during our first Festival Grant, and through the sale of our merchandise. We have received a encouraging amount of support over the past year, however, in order to meet our goals for 2018 we must reach a larger audience and find new/creative ways to encourage both individuals and companies to support our mission.

As we look to the future, we hope that the on-site promotional booth (at music festivals) and social media fundraising campaigns will become our principle recurring methods of fundraising.  However, we will continually explore additional methods for development.  Some of which include:

  • A large annual fundraising event that is focused on recapping our operations for the past year

  • Fundraising partnerships with music festivals and ticketing companies to allow for individuals to make donations to Life Under the Wheel when purchasing their festival tickets

  • Permanent links to our website from our festival partners’ websites

  • Producing a live music event or festival where all proceeds benefit Life Under the Wheel’s operations


Where We Have Been And Where We Are Going 

Over the past 15 months, Life Under the Wheel has gone from a concept/conversation through business formation to hosting our first Festival Grant. We have learned so much and have some great ideas for 2018. Our hope is that we can welcome even more people into the Life Under the Wheel community, award at least four Festival Grants, and bring on some new staff members who will serve an integral role by bringing practical and applied expertise to areas where we are currently lacking.

In September 2017, we hosted our inaugural Festival Grant at the Life is Beautiful Music & Art Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. Calvin Huang, our Festival Grant recipient, is a 21 year-old software engineer from the Bay Area who was diagnosed with a stage 4 glioblastoma in 2016. In his application Calvin explained that he hoped that our program would give him:


A chance to share this amazing experience with someone that has never been able to experience it before, and (he doesn’t) know if (he) will get another chance.  

-Calvin Huang

Festival Grant Recipient, Life is Beautiful


Our team worked tirelessly with the Life is Beautiful team to ensure that everything was well thought out. Even so, we did learn that even the best made plans are sometimes complicated by forces beyond our control.  For example, Calvin’s flight was cancelled an hour before he was supposed to board, which caused him to miss half of the first day of the festival. Despite the setback the Festival Grant was a huge success, and Calvin and Charlotte (his girlfriend that he chose as his companion during the grant) had a wonderful experience.



“I had an awesome time at LIB, and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to show my girlfriend her first music festival; I had a lot of fun seeing artists I knew, and Charlotte really enjoyed discovering all sorts of new music. We had lots of fun meeting you guys and getting to see behind the scenes of the festival; everything was so perfectly set up for us.”

-Calvin Huang

Festival Grant Recipient, Life is Beautiful


During this Festival Grant, we rolled out our individual contribution fundraising campaigns.  This included the on-site operations of our promotional booth at the Life is Beautiful Music & Art Festival.  This promotional booth was tasked with introducing our mission to as many of the festival’s patrons as possible, as well as soliciting donations from them. During the three days of the festival, we had over 540 festival attendees use our photo booth.  We also collected over $1500 from merchandise sales and in-person donations, and we handed out brochures/info cards to many festival patrons. For a new company coming into the festival community, we felt that this was a great accomplishment for us. We were able to interact with so many festival goers and share our mission with them. While this was a successful start, we realize that we need to push this interaction further in 2018. We really need to focus on engaging a festival’s attendees, because they are experiencing the exact sense of community, love, and shared passion for music that we are trying to give our Festival Grant recipients. Simultaneously, we hope to curate a passionate and engaged online community that will allow people to really be apart of our mission.

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Like many other nonprofits, our website offers a secure web-form for direct donations to be collected from individuals.  Concurrent to the granting of our first Festival Grant, we leveraged social media sites (Facebook and Instagram) to rollout our first major fundraising campaign to the general public.  This campaign provided a summary of our mission and operations, and specifically provided highlights of the Festival Grant, in the hopes that individuals will be directed back to our website’s donation page.

We are very proud of all the hard work our team put in this year, however, we have not received as much financial support as we had hoped for. Each Festival Grant costs approximately $10,000 to execute. One of our fundraising challenges in 2017 was that we had not received a determination on our 501(c)(3) application with the Internal Revenue Service. Because of this, we were not eligible for many grants, and we know that numerous donations were not made because our nonprofit status with the IRS was pending. However, having received our tax-exempt status from the IRS, we plan to apply for a multitude of grants and larger donations from different foundations/companies in 2018.

How Big Gigantic Can Help

We live in a time where performing artists can impact and drive change through interacting with their fan bases on a daily basis. This impact can be seen through the consumer market and through shifts in the culture of our society. This is so important to Life Under the Wheel because our organization exists in a community passionate for music and everything that surrounds music. Fans are interested in knowing what their favorite artist is passionate about, or where these artist are focusing their attention (both with their time and monetarily). At the beginning, our hope was that our organization would grow quickly as a grassroots movement, because there are so many engaged and passionate members of the music festival community. A common example of this passion can be seen when a festival’s lineup is released.  Negative comments are usually met, instantly, by fans defending “their” festival with examples of positivity and reminders of how personally “important” the event is to them.

While we have received a great reaction from the music festival patrons we have been able to reach, our public presence is yet to command the attention that we hope to garner. In order to have the impact and be able to continue awarding Festival Grants we need to reach a larger market and share our mission on a larger platform. This is where a partnership with Big Gigantic could be an amazing catalyst for us. This is in no small part to the huge presence and respect that Big Gigantic already has in the music festival community through their years of creating amazing experiences for the patrons of music festivals. With over 515,000 followers on different social media platforms and hundreds of people interacting with the group on these platforms daily, Big Gigantic has a unique position to really shine a light on our mission.

There are many ways that a partnership between Big Gigantic and Life Under the Wheel could be established.  A few examples include:

  • Becoming our first performing artist partner with joint announcements on official websites and social media accounts

  • Participating in meet and greets for Festival Grant recipients where Big Gigantic is performing

  • Funding a Festival Grant

  • Hosting a Festival Grant at Rowdytown

  • Performing/appearance at a Life Under the Wheel fundraising event

At Life Under the Wheel we recognize that Big Gigantic is already a very successful agent of change and a driving force in the world. This is especially seen in the nonprofit sector, as exemplified by the A Big Gigantic Difference Foundation. We believe that our mission falls squarely in line with the driving message of the Foundation’s initiatives, and we hope that through a partnership, together we can continue to “spread simple kindness, generosity, positivity and love like never before.”

Allocation of A Big Gigantic Difference Foundation Grant

If selected, we would use the grant funds for the following: 

  • $15,000 - Hiring Marketing/Development consultant and/or staff member

As previously discussed, one of our greatest challenges has been increasing our exposure and securing fundraising. We would like to hire a consultant or dedicated staff member who has experience with either or both of these areas.

  • $20,000 - Award at least two Festival Grants

The maximum expected cost of a Festival Grant is $10,000. However, up to this point, the two Festival Grants that we have awarded have cost less.  Therefore, these funds could fund as many as four grants. 

  • $5,000 - Business operations

Many of Festival and Industry Partners have generously helped us with in-kind donations to our Festival Grant operations, and we are so grateful for everything they do. However, we still have a fair amount of expenses for general business operations, which includes:  insurance, professional services, marketing materials, merchandise cost, IT costs, etc.