• Liz Rivers

Pay It Forward at Gala Awards Nights

I've often pondered ways for charities and NGOs to get a better "bang for their buck" when it comes to fundraising and profile building. Generosity at a recent dinner event showed me one brilliant way.

Our team volunteered our services for the inaugural FurBall on the Beach charity dinner in support of Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge Inc (SCARS) and 4 Paws Animal Rescue. It wasn’t an awards night, but we love animals.

So we also decided to offer a prize to be auctioned on the night.

Australians love chocolate, and we are the biggest consumers of chocolate at Easter in the world. So "A Visit from the Easter Bunny" was our prize and it offered the highest bidder the opportunity to have a mascot-quality Bunny come to their chosen location on Easter Saturday or Sunday with a big basket of eggs. Bidding was fierce and frenzied, and gained media attention.

Then, amazingly, the highest bidder turned around in a community-spirited gesture and donated the Easter Bunny to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital to put a smile on the faces of children (and staff) who had to be at the hospital over Easter.

It was a remarkable and selfless act that gained additional media coverage with TV news running the story.

And while I was only the Bunny's "handler", watching bed-bound children's faces totally light up made it the best Easter Sunday I've ever had.

It amazed me that one small act of generosity inspired another which then grew to help more than 1,000 rescue animals and 100 sick children and adults.

Wouldn't it be great if all awards night event producers found ways to intentionally introduce pay-it-forward into awards events? Imagine award winners choosing to give something back on the same night that they are receiving so much.

This has become my mission. Join me?


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