Pivot Point: Creative Fundraising During COVID
The venue was booked, the flowers were ordered, the menu was prepared, the auction prizes were arranged, the master of ceremonies was ready to go. Hundreds of tickets holders looked forward to enjoying an evening of entertainment and giving at Warehouse ’23 to benefit Rocksolid Community Teen Center, a nonprofit organization that provides a safe and engaging place in Brush Prairie for teens to go after school. A team of 8-10 volunteers had been working for a year to produce the 19th annual Lucky Shamrock Auction, the organization’s largest fundraising event of the year, and it was all about to come alive. The problem? The 2020 Lucky Shamrock Auction was scheduled for what turned out to be a most unlucky date: March 14.
A $15,000 Decision in 15 Minutes As the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Clark County earlier that same week, it became clear to Rocksolid’s event team that big decisions would need to be made regarding the Saturday event, and fast. Before government mandates were put in place forbidding such gatherings, it was not a decision the team made lightly. Rocksolid’s executive director, Marcy Sprecher, shared with me in a recent email some of the factors that ran through her mind as the week progressed and the pandemic situation became evident: “Should we still move forward, and hope our guests come? What would perception look like? Did we care about our guests or want to risk their safety? Should we cancel or postpone and hope to reschedule? What about all the businesses that would be suffering and shutting down, not able to make good on their donations? What about silent items that had perishables included, or live plants and flowers that would die? Expiration dates needing to be updated . . . the list goes on.” With concerns about health on the one hand and about cancelling prematurely on the other, and with the event’s venue, Warehouse ’23, ready to order all the food, “a $15,000 decision had to be made in 15 minutes.”
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