Katie Santoro is the owner of Lunge Yoga in Richmond, Virginia and a self-described Murderino. If you’re not quite sure what that last bit is, Murderinos are fans of the popular true crime comedy podcast My Favorite Murder hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. The podcast has gained immense popularity and is consistently featured in the iTunes top podcasts charts. Though the podcast’s theme is true crime and murder, Karen and Georgia’s conversations invariably digress to their own lives. The two are open about their own struggles with mental health and wellness. In fact, it comes up nearly every episode. Recently, they initiated a Yoga Challenge as part of their podcast in an attempt to keep one another accountable and recommit to their physical wellness.
Back at Lunge Yoga, Katie hadn’t expected these two parts of her life to intersect. Katie was part of an online Murderino Meetup group in Richmond. A fellow Murderino suggested that this local group of listeners get together to practice yoga, too.
Katie was quick to offer a space and a cause. She knew it was a perfect opportunity to raise funds and awareness for End the Backlog, a non-profit effort to test rape kits that’s often mentioned on the podcast. Katie explains, “People just kind of jumped on board, and then we set up one Meetup. We set it up with an attendance level of 25, and it filled up almost immediately.” She hadn’t expected such a response.
She set up a second event. And then a third. Katie wrote into My Favorite Murder and let them know what her studio was doing. Karen and Georgia shared her email in one episode and loved how much good their listeners were doing.
Katie partnered with a local baker she knew who created My Favorite Murder themed cookies, which they sold and donated the proceeds from to End the Backlog. Another friend designs greeting cards. Katie asked her to create a T-shirt for the cause. The design featured yoga poses forming the letters SSDGM — a tagline from the podcast (shorthand for Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered). Those proceeds also went to the non-profit.
Katie was blown away by her fellow Murderinos and the response. “We raised $1,150 in three days. In three days. It is amazing. I cannot tell you how many times on Sunday I almost broke down in tears.”
Lunge Yoga has even turned a few of the podcast fans into yoga fans. Katie explains how unexpected this was, “The thing about Murderinos is it’s probably the most introverted group of people you’ve ever met in your life. It’s a bunch of true crime lovers who just want to listen to their podcast.”
Before the first event, Katie saw her fellow fans posting notes in the Meetup forum before their first yoga session. “A lot of people were nervous. That’s the thing that just kept coming up again and again. ‘I’m nervous I’ve never done this before. It’s going to be fun, but I’m so nervous.’ And just the fact that people actually came out and gave it a shot and tried it — even if they don’t come back to my studio, even if they find yoga somewhere else, or maybe it inspires them to take on some other healthy practice even, then we’re doing something. We’re doing good.” Lunge Yoga has new members already; several Murderinos have already bought intro offers to jumpstart their yoga practice.
My Favorite Murder allowed Katie to tap into an already established network. “The thing that made this fundraiser work was the Murderino group.” She stressed the importance of having a base, complete with emails and contact info. If they’re already invested in the cause? All the better.
“You’ve got to have a way to reach out to people. We had you know other fundraisers here where we didn’t have that, and we didn’t raise anything.” For those studios looking to host a fundraiser, Katie recommends pairing with other businesses, sports leagues, groups or organizations to make the greatest impact.
Regular members at Lunge Studio who hadn’t listened to the podcast and who didn’t realize there was a backlog in testing want to help, too. Katie and her team are going to be planning more fundraisers in the future.
Photo Credit: Natalee Dobbs.