Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami held its largest fund-raiser of the year, the Big Event, on Saturday night at downtown Miami's American Airlines Arena. After a difficult year of fund-raising, organizers began selling raffle tickets nearly three months early. These efforts, along with a record 180 donated silent auction items, doubled the revenue raised by the raffle last year.
“In the past we were making about $40,000 on our silent auction and raffle, and this year we’re estimating its in the $80,000 range,” said the charity’s vice president of marketing, Laurie Gunn, who added ticket sales for the raffle more than doubled, from $9,000 to nearly $19,000.
Despite the fund-raising challenges organizers faced, according to Gunn, the gala’s board of directors secured 65 sponsors, selling out the 650 dinner seats. Carnival Cruise Lines returned as a presenting sponsor at $50,000, the highest of the four sponsorship levels, which start at $7,500 for a table of 10.
However, since not all sponsors could return this year with a monetary donation, others instead contributed to the silent auction with items like weekend trips to a donor’s private home in Colorado, a chartered yacht trip to Bimini for fishing, and numerous jewelry items.
Though final numbers are not in yet, Gunn expects the event netted more than its goal of $500,000, about $80,000 less than last year due to one nonreturning sponsor and other sponsors coming in at a lower level this year.