Community Environmental Council Lauded as a 2020 Nonprofit of the Year
Monday, November 30, 2020
By Ann Pieramici
(For the full article visit the website linked below)
Published by the NoozHawk
The coronavirus pandemic has transformed how nonprofit organizations are raising money.
Hard hit by lockdowns and social distancing mandates, elaborately themed galas and standard speaker luncheons have been replaced by digital events that allow guests to forgo their usual spirited attire for sweats and slippers while raising virtual paddles in front of computer screens.
All of this brings obvious benefits. Zoom costs less than a ballroom. There are no awkwardly empty chairs at the table or no-show nametags crowding the check-in.
The carbon footprint has been reduced, as have volunteer hours. And locals aren’t fretting about finding the perfect poodle skirt or Roaring '20s flapper-wear in order to dress on theme.
“There is a huge wave of experimentation and innovation taking place in nonprofits right now,” said Geoff Green, CEO of the Santa Barbara City College Foundation. “And some of that may stick.”
“Humans are social creatures, and no mediated technology will ever fully remove that, but there are some pieces of the virtual event that I think are worth keeping,” he said, noting the financial costs, which are significantly lower than in-person events, even with fancy food delivered to donors’ doorsteps.
There’s also greater access, enabling people thousands of miles apart to share the same experience.
Another perk? That experience has now been shortened, from a two-hour program to 45 minutes.
But are the online fundraisers fruitful?
Green says yes. He served as the emcee for the SBCC Foundation’s Spring Forward fundraiser held Oct. 1, attracting 250 virtual guests and raising $120,000 — all via an online ask.
The event grossed a total of $320,000 thanks to the pre-pandemic planning when the foundation secured sponsorships and pledges. Altogether, the planning — and execution — helped make the event a success.
“We were not starting to plan in the midst of a pandemic,” he said, “and we had the benefit of seeing what worked with other nonprofits.”
One downside so far is that it’s harder to secure donated items from struggling businesses, and there are certain kinds of sponsorships that are not attracted to the virtual platform.
Yet, Green says, ultimately donors will support organizations because they believe in the work.
“What I’ve found, in many cases, is that the nonprofit boards and longtime donors are really stepping up,” said Tom Parker, president of the Hutton Parker Foundation. “It’s not enough to fill the gap, but the community has contributed in a substantial way to make sure nonprofits will survive this pandemic.”
That was the case for Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara. The organization recently converted its ballroom luncheon attracing 400-plus guests into a virtual affair, inviting guests to view a 35-minute video instead of a two-hour live presentation.