There are some things money can't buy. This age‐old saying rings true at the annual Give Gala — an event otherwise known as “the worst fundraiser ever.” While the upscale gathering touts many features of a traditional fundraiser, a few standards are missing, namely admission fees, silent auctions and the familiar calls for financial support. That's because Co‐Organizers Jess Ekstrom and Joey McMahon have flipped the tried‐and‐true gala model on its head by encouraging guests to donate services, talents and priceless experiences to families of critically‐ill children in lieu of money.Through the experiences gained working with their independent nonprofits, Ekstrom and McMahon have realized the impact that results from small gestures of kindness. Ekstrom operates Headbands of Hope, an organization that provides headbands to children battling cancer in Raleigh, NC, and McMahon is the founder and CEO of The Monday Life (Chapel Hill, NC), an organization which asks donors to donate $1 every Monday to support families in similar situations.“We'd grown pretty exhausted with the same charitable gala format, and the constant pressure to reach for our wallets,” Ekstrom says. “We're just asking people to give what they can, whether it's a special skill, a vacation rental property or even a home‐cooked meal. It's the little things that matter most.”An offering and explanation of the gift serves as registration. “Money is just one tool that can be used to drive impact, so we're bypassing that by going straight to the offers,” McMahon says. “It's pretty cool to see what people want to give as we've collected season tickets to UNC basketball games, autographed records and even fire truck rides for the kids.” Ekstrom and McMahon have helped streamline the process by providing additional ideas for guests who are unsure of what to donate.In exchange for their gifts, around 500 guests are given admission to the event which features food, live entertainment, an open bar and life‐size board games. The most recent installment took place at the Marbles Kids Museum, lending an appropriately playful atmosphere to the feel‐good gala. Sponsors like On the Rocks Bartending, The Dillon Raleigh and KBI Biopharma also provide their goods and services free of charge to make the night a success.Live‐matching takes place at the event, giving donors the chance to meet the families who receive their gifts. “The purpose of our event is to remove the isolation that results during times of hardship and replaces it with compassionate interactions,” McMahon says. “Many donors provide gift cards which we continue to distribute to families throughout the year, thus prolonging these invaluable relationships.”Sources: Jess Ekstrom, Founder and Chief Headband Officer, Headbands of Hope, Raleigh, NC. Phone (704) 906‐4883. E‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.headbandsofhope.comJoey McMahon, Founder and CEO, The Monday Life, Chapel Hill, NC. E‐mail: email@example.com. Website: www.themondaylife.org
Special Events Galore – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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