Can Your Rescue Top $36,000 in One Night?

G.R.I.N.’s Golden Gala: a fundraising inspiration
By Karen B. London PhD, November 2011

The 7th annual G.R.I.N. Golden Gala raised $36,000 on a Saturday night in late October. G.R.I.N. stands for Golden Retrievers In Need, and is a rescue group.

Each year, they rescue and foster around 200 Goldens and place them in loving homes. They also provide for G.R.I.N. Goldens in need of medicine, surgery, training or help with their behavioral issues. When they are short of foster homes, they pay for boarding services, too. Helping so many dogs by giving them what they need as well as finding their forever homes requires a committed membership and a lot of resources, including money. And G.R.I.N. is a fundraising machine.

The Golden Gala is their biggest fundraiser of the year, and it’s extremely successful, even in these challenging economic times. There’s not a politician or a nonprofit in the country that wouldn’t be thrilled to have the skill set and devotion of G.R.I.N. members.

Any group seeking to learn how to raise money is sure to find inspiration in G.R.I.N.’s success. Their Golden Gala has many aspects to it, and though it’s a one-night event, Gala committee members spend all year preparing for it. I first heard about it six months before the event when I was contacted by a member of the committee for the Golden Gala asking for a charitable donation of an autographed book for the event.

This year’s record-breaking event sold out at 325 tickets, which are $45-$50 depending on when they are purchased. Attendees are treated to a multi-course dinner, a DJ, celebrity hosts and a Golden ice sculpture.

The money the group brings in at the Golden Gala goes way beyond the price of admission. In the Fur Raffle, there are 200 chances, each sold for $25. Each chance comes with a dog puppet to keep and a chance to win two tickets on Southwest Airlines or a 55-inch LCD TV. After the winner for each of those is pulled, the tickets are combined and winners were pulled to win a “Lottery Tree” with 50 lottery tickets or a wreath with a variety of gift cards.

In the popular Tennis Ball raffle, a member’s Golden Retriever chooses tennis balls from a kiddie pool and whoever has the matching number, wins the prize. Each chance costs $10 and 150 chances are sold. Multiple balls are chosen, and this year’s prizes were dinner for a year (12 restaurant gift certificates), a DVD Blu-ray player, jewelry and a camera. This year, a dog named Sugar did the honors, and the moment was extra special because right before she drew the winners, Sugar saw her foster mom for the first time in 18 months and lavished her with kisses.

Other prizes in additional raffles included another TV, a Wii, mall gift certificates and more jewelry. A live auction this year featured, among other items, a Golden quilt, which sold for $1,000 and a pair of Ohio State football tickets. There were nearly 100 items, all of which were donated, in the silent auction, which included things for kids, sports gear, car items and art. The pot of the 50/50 raffle reached $3,800.

Among the fundraising tips we can take away from this event are that you need to start early seeking donated items, make it a quality event with a variety of ways to raise money and accept all forms of payment—cash, check and charge. Oh, and have a committed group of people who work hard, set goals, attend the event and enjoy it. The result could be $36,000 that goes towards rescuing, fostering, caring for and placing dogs.

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.