With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting fundraising efforts for local nonprofits, 44 organizations (including BenitoLink) will take part in the San Benito Gives online auction Nov. 13-17. The Community Foundation for San Benito County is hosting the auction, with proceeds going back to participating nonprofits.
The auction will take place entirely online, and those who wish to bid will need to register.
Jill Paragan with the San Juan Bautista Community Business Association said the nonprofit will auction promotional packages and a beer-and-dinner event at Brewery Twenty Five. Money raised for the association, Paragan said, usually pays for some of the decorations for events that take place in San Juan Bautista.
“Our major fundraiser would be the Sip and Celebrate in September,” she said. “All of our funds go towards promotion, and we promote San Juan Bautista.”
This year has been a difficult one for nonprofit fundraising, with events largely restricted by COVID-19 safety guidelines. Jack Scutchall, president of the nonprofit Pet Friends, said events like Tacos for Tails, the Fur Ball, and other fundraisers usually bring the shelter $25,000 to $30,000 each. He said the cancellation of those events this year hurt Pet Friends “terribly.” Despite holding two fundraising car washes this year, they did not bring in much money.
“It’s a bleak situation,” Scutchall said, “so we jumped on this [auction] as soon as we could.” Pet Friends’ auction items include paintings by Thomas Kinkade and Barbara Ament, a rooster-themed tea service and several wine tasting and golf packages.
Sharlene Van Rooy of the San Benito County Historical Society said her group has also had a difficult year. “We rent facilities out at the Historic Park, which we haven’t been able to do, because people can’t rent the big dance hall, and have big events and reunions and stuff, so the coffers are low,” she said.
The historical society had to cancel annual events like the Bluegrass Festival at Bolado Park, the Harvest Moon picnic, and September’s Civil War reenactment. The society will be offering a number of antiques, picnics and tastings during the online auction.
“We were disappointed to learn that the traditional San Benito Gives online fundraiser was not taking place in May or September, as that had been a significant source of revenue for us in 2018 and 2019,” said Karminder Brown of the San Benito Agricultural Land Trust (SBALT). “But we’re hoping to make up for it with a strong showing in the community auction!”
SBALT plans to auction items and experiences like a cabin trip to Rancho Tranquillo, different kinds of alcoholic drinks, and an opportunity to ride horses.
On the bright side, the historical society’s Wapple House Museum is being prepared to reopen, Van Rooy said. It needs cleaning and dusting, and some of the displays must be replaced. The reopening will likely be funded by an open-house event, she said.
The shutdown has prompted some organizations to change their approach to fundraising. Paragan said that the SJB Community Business Association, for example, will pivot away from events-based advertising.
“We’re promoting San Juan on its own merits, as a destination for hiking, outdoor entertainment, outdoor dining, a family place,” she said. “We’ve kind of just made a strategic shift away from events.”
Brown said that SBALT will also emphasize the county’s appeal by hosting future tours which focus on the benefits of local farming.
“If pandemic restrictions allow, we would like to host several events next spring and summer, including a bird walk, a wildflower walk, and a farm tour,” she said.
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