Pandemic forces charities to think outside the box for fundraising

Last weekend, I went to Facebook Jail.

My crime? Egregious sharing of our recent Presents In Paradise benefit virtual concert. Many of you as well may have wanted to unfriend me for all the posting I did on different pages and in various groups. But until we can have regular events, local non-profits have to get creative when it comes to fundraising. If I was overzealous about sharing, then I apologize not one bit.

I did send a tersely worded response to Facebook concerning their forced timeout. All I was trying to do was raise money so local children might have a Christmas, Ebenezer Zuckerberg. I certainly wasn’t spreading deep-state conspiracy theories or disparaging the character of a presidential candidate. Regardless of the sentence from the Social Media Scrooge, the concert went off as planned (with a few technical glitches), the musicians were stellar, and everyone had a great time.

Presents In Paradise wasn’t the only non-profit that staged a benefit online concert last week. Rockin’ To Recovery hosted a huge benefit concert on Facebook Live from the Key West Theater with help from Conchtastic Key West, WAIL 99.5, and SUN 103.1 radio stations. The beneficiaries were the Sister Season Fund and our local United Way of Collier and the Keys.

Both concerts were successes and helped raise much needed funds. Until we get back to some semblance of normalcy, creative fundraising is going to be the new normal. And each non-profit will have to look at its own needs and see if a virtual event could help raise funds and spread its message.

I know firsthand that our local Rotary Club is looking at creative ways to raise money for scholarships. I imagine the same is happening with Zonta, BPW, the Lions and other service organizations. 

What we as a caring community can do is try and attend the virtual events the same as we would the actual in-person ones. If any of us have some extra cash, those donations can really go a long way in this strange pandemic year. If funds aren’t abundant, then sharing the event (as well as the non-profit’s message) will help expand the audience as well as the donations.

And if I land back in Facebook Jail for sharing a non-profit event and trying to raise funds for our community, then it’s worth every moment of my sentence!

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I’d like to thank all those who donated to Presents In Paradise this past weekend during our Tropical Rockers Concert for the Kids. Although there were those aforementioned glitches, they did not get in the way of the message or the music. Thanks to Terry Cassidy, Brian Roberts, Adrienne Z, and Freddie Bye for playing, and thank you to our dignitaries as well: Michelle Coldiron, Mike Forster, Sam Steele and Luis Gonzalez. Special thanks go out to our volunteers and board members who really helped make the concert possible. Thanks to the Florida Keys Country Club and Broadwave for providing a venue and connectivity.

The good news is that if you missed it, both concerts mentioned above are still available online — both at the Presents In Paradise and Rockin’ to Recovery Facebook pages! (The first part of the Presents concert does have some glitches, but the second part really sounds good!) Please tune in and share with all your friends so we can continue fundraising for worthy local causes.

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It is with sorrow that we note the passing of Islamorada Vice Mayor Ken Davis. It was sudden and shocking, and his loss leaves a huge hole in the Village landscape. I got to work with Ken at government events like League of Cities and Florida Keys Day, and Ken was always dedicated to his community. He was fun to hang out with as well. Our condolences go out to his family and friends, and he will certainly be missed.

— Catch John Thursdays at Sparky’s Landing, Fridays on Facebook Live, 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays at the Key Colony Inn. Music on Amazon, Apple, iTunes, Spotify and more. www.facebook.com/john.bartus

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