Spring Fundraiser Winning Moments

It’s spring fundraising season in Seattle, which means that it’s time for gala events and auctions. Let’s face it, some of these events – even for the most heartwarming causes – can be snoozers. As a communication professional, I tend to be particularly critical; I have a very low tolerance for rubber chicken, wandering speeches, and an “ask” that sounds more like a loose suggestion.

But there are bright spots, and I want to celebrate them:

Best ask: Landesa Board Chair Christine Grumm didn’t just make me want to give money, she made me want to stand up and testify for the rights of people around the world to own land. This woman knows how to make “the ask,” a moment that can be so uncomfortable or bland at so many fundraisers. She rallied the room in a bold, preacher-style way that was impressive.

Best date with a girlfriend: Women’s Funding Alliance’s “Art of Dining” has all the ingredients of a great night out: Showbox SODO, outstanding food by Lisa Dupar, yummy cocktails, step and repeat for photos, a bunch of Seattle power ladies dressed to the nines, and most important, a great cause to support women and girls in Washington State. Why wouldn’t you want to grab a girlfriend and go?

Best dessert dash: Our friends at Mobility Outreach International (MOI) introduced us to the “dessert dash,” during which tables of auction guests try to outbid each other to get first pick of their desserts – sort of like the NFL draft but for sweets. Then each table elects a runner to “dash” to the dessert table to choose while other runners follow close behind. This is a fun, interactive way to raise more dollars to help people around the world gain mobility and independence.

Best use of music: Lots of organizations integrate music into their fundraisers, but how many feature 80+ people spontaneously breaking into song? And how many include a choral rendition of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit juxtaposed with an excerpt of Bach’s B-Minor Mass?  That only happens at a Seattle Pro Musica auction, where music is the focal point and one of our region’s best choral ensembles lets down their hair. Note: I am a singer and board member of SPM.

Best use of video: We traveled outside of Seattle to St. Louis for the first gala fundraiser of Minerva Strategies client Dignity Period. The evening featured emotional and informative talks about how a simple thing like getting one’s period can knock girls in Ethiopia out of school, but the highlight of the evening was the premiere of a video that our colleagues at Storymind Productions put together. Its excellent use of animation interspersed with photos, video, and voiceover by the remarkable women who made Dignity Period possible brought the organization’s life to work for everyone in the room. In case you couldn’t make it to St. Louis, you can check out the video here.

That’s my take on this spring’s fundraisers. If you think I missed any “best of” moments, feel free to call me out on social media @JoyPortella or Minerva Strategies on Facebook.  I’ll keep attending events and letting you know what catches my eye and inspires me to give.