In a time when economic woes and wallet tightening can worry fundraisers, The San Miguel School of Providence, RI, rose to the challenge with innovative and inspiring tactics to ensure its students continue to benefit from the transformative experience of Lasallian education.
The seventh annual Many Hands, One Hope Gala held May 4, 2012 set a new record by raising more than $160,000. The cocktail reception featured silent and live auctions, performances from the student dance team and chorus, the debut of a student video, interaction with alumni, creative fundraising efforts, and awards honoring supporters.
In a competitive city for donations to non-profits, the school credits part of the success to the inclusion of students and alumni. “The galas, all of them, would not have been successful if it weren’t for the participation of the students,” said Events Coordinator Marianne Allen. “The boys sing; they dance; they premiere their video. They are a big part of it.”
Big donations come in through two highlighted sponsorships in the amounts of $15,000 and $10,000. Others sponsor activities at the event, like the chorus performance, for $5,000, which gives them extra recognition. Thanks to in-kind donations and significant discounts, the school has spent no more than $27,000 on event expenses in the gala’s seven-year history.
Some of the excitement surrounding fundraising can be attributed to the efforts of past board president Terry Allen who dresses in different costumes each year to creatively ask for donations to sponsor students in the after school program. He dressed as Santa this year and told the crowd the school’s wish list was for every boy to be sponsored at $400 each. The wish was granted thanks to the approximately 20 additional sponsorships donated compared to the previous year, which set another record.
Allen’s speech was strategically scheduled after a dance performance by the students, which is something they learn after school, showing potential donors exactly how their money is used. Throughout the year, the students write their sponsors letters about their activities.
Organizers say assembling a good planning team along with involving students and graduates in the event are keys to fundraising success.
“Our school community knows how important the gala is,” said Amy Kalina, Coordinator of Community Relations. “Because we’re a non-tuition based school, if we don’t have the gala and we don’t raise the funds, then we don’t have a school, and that’s what I think is appealing to a lot of our donors as well. They know how important it is. They know their money is going to a worthy cause and that’s what makes it so successful.”