North County nonprofits transition fundraisers to online

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The Coast News Group

April 7, 2020

Nonprofits throughout the region are taking previously planned fundraising events to online as a result of the new coronavirus pandemic that has prompted global lockdowns.

Hands of Peace, a nonprofit with a mission of empowering young people, and the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum both announced recently that their fundraisers would transition to online platforms.

Hands of Peace previously planned to hold its annual benefit at the Hilton San Diego in Del Mar in mid-April but is now hosting that fundraiser online. The benefit typically raises $65,000 for the nonprofit.

“I had hoped to greet everyone personally at the San Diego Benefit, but as we all know now, the world had other plans,” said Hands of Peace Founder Gretchen Grad, who created the first Hands of Peace program in 2003.  “Whether they are American, Israeli, or Palestinian, the younger generation is crying out to have their voices heard. And we won’t stop supporting them, even if planes aren’t flying and we can’t gather in the same room.”

The nonprofit, which works to empower and unite young Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans, launched the “Magic Happens Online” fundraiser on April 5 and plans to run it until April 19.

“The pandemic forced the cancellation of Hands of Peace’s two biggest fundraising events of the year, one in Chicago and one in San Diego, that typically account for about 1/10 of our budget,” Diana Kutlow, director of development for Hands of Peace, said. “Because we are  small and  nimble, we  were able to quickly pivot to a ‘Virtual  Benefit’  with online content and an online auction so we can make the most of the generous auction donations from community businesses and all  the  work our volunteer committees had already done.”

Kutlow said the funds raised will support the nonprofit’s mission during a difficult time.

“This is a rare opportunity for a small nonprofit, and we will need resources for staff, surveys and focus groups, and impact analysis,” Kutlow said. “We also want to continue to offer year-round Alumni Seminars in Israel/Palestine and well as in the U.S. The Summer Program is just the beginning of their leadership journey. Now we need to develop ways  to continue to connect them using new technology and partnerships.”

Without the donations, it won’t just be the young participants who are hurt. There will be a domino effect.

“The people who are ultimately affected are the courageous young people who want to reach across borders and boundaries to listen to people who have dramatically different perspectives, to learn how to have civil discourse and how to change their societies for the better,” Kutlow said. “That loss would affect us all.”

The San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum is just one other nonprofit that was forced to take its annual fundraiser online.

Wendy Taylor, executive director for the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, said the nonprofit’s annual gala was scheduled for March 28. The event was more meaningful this year as it was meant to celebrate a milestone anniversary for the beloved museum.

“With our museum closed to the public and our gala postponed, we have experienced a drastic loss in both earned revenue and donations,” Taylor said. “Our 20th anniversary spring gala was meant to be held on March 28th to support our access for all programs, and instead we hosted a flash fundraiser to supplement some of the revenue lost by postponing our gala.”

Despite the inability to host a gala, Taylor said the museum’s online fundraiser gained nearly $10,000 in donations.

“We have been touched by the philanthropic community showing up for us, as we could not get through this critical time without donor support,” Taylor said. “I have been especially impressed by the number of foundations who have reached out to check on us, offer additional funding, or expedite their funding processes. It is clear the philanthropic community cares deeply about local nonprofits like our museum and the families we serve.”

“Donations of any size are important,” Taylor said.

For more information about Hands of Peace or to make a donation, go to handsofpeace.org. For more information about the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, go to sdcdm.org.

By Hoa Quach April 7, 2020 The Coast News Group