Meet Brendan O’Connor.
Brendan O’Connor is the co-founder of RaiseDC and with a tagline like “A Virtuous Nightlife” we could not help but be intrigued when we learned of his venture. Starting just a year ago (anniversary party details below), RaiseDC seeks to combine the forces of DC’s nightlife with fundraising for local nonprofits. In just one one year they have helped out 8 DC organizations with 100% of ticket sales going toward the cause. Win-win, right? We thought so too and were lucky enough to chat with O’Connor about the organization, its upcoming events and how we can all be a little more virtuous.
1. What is the inspiration behind RaiseDC?
RaiseDC was initially conceptualized as a creative outlet for my co-founder, Ryan Ulbrich, and I, who each maintain jobs as consultants here in DC. We started throwing parties on U Street in 2011 with the sole purpose of getting good people together to listen to good music while having a good time. By happenstance, we learned of a friend-of-a-friend who was undertaking a mind-blowing feat, running from Canada to Mexico by way of the Pacific Coast Trail, raising money for Parkinson’s research. We quickly organized and executed a successful fundraising event for his journey in a matter of two weeks. Reflecting on the event, we came to the realization that there was massive potential to take that model and scale it on a hyper-local level. This “virtuous nightlife” would simultaneously raise critical funds and exposure for local small-budget nonprofits, local artists, and local musicians, while providing a low barrier of entry for millennials to connect to and engage in the issues affecting their community.
2. Tell us, what is the most surprising thing since starting this venture?
The number of incredible, progressive, and motivated young individuals in this city working to make not only our city, but our world, a better place. I knew there were tons of smart people in DC but the number of smart people working collaboratively on innovative solutions to our generation’s most pressing issues has been a refreshing realization. I’m now confident that all is not lost!
3. You have a party coming up this weekend, what should people expect?
This coming Friday, RaiseDC turns 1. But this will not be your standard birthday party for a one-year old. Some of our city’s finest visual and performing artists are getting together under the roof of one of DC’s most impressive venues, Malmaison, to entertain us all night long. Over the past year our events have benefited eight local nonprofits, raising thousands of dollars through grassroots ticket sales. At #TheOneYear, we bring all eight of our nonprofit partners back to benefit them once more. So when you wake up feeling a little groggy on Saturday morning, at least you can take solace in the fact that 100% of your ticket sales went to eight organizations doing wonderful things for the city we all call home. Buy your TICKETS!
4. What is your favorite thing about the District?
The constant improvement I see in so many areas from food to sports to music. There’s a growing sense of respect for the District from people I talk to all around the country. They’re seeing us as much more than the seat of our nation’s government. It’s exciting to be a part of that growth.
5. If Obama called and wanted to kick it for the day, what would you two do?
Easy. Go hang with his friends from the Choom Gang then skydive from Air Force 1.