Don’t Dress Up: Do Galas in Your Pajamas

“I miss Home Goods so much,” proclaimed radio personality Kellie Rasberry during a virtual party designed as a fundraiser for Dallas Habitat for Humanity.

The Texas Ballet Theater launched a relief fund to help pay furloughed employees. (Photo: Steven Visneau)

The host of the nationally syndicated Kidd Kraddick show took part in the Home Sweet Home party as part of North Texas Giving Tuesday, designed to help charities and nonprofits struggling to raise funds during the pandemic.

In Habitat’s case, funds raised were to help homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages due to job loss and other issues related to COVID-19. Tickets were $75, and some guests purchased virtual tables and invited friends to join. Rasberry gave everyone a glimpse into her home and chatted about her job, home life, and more.

Participants were eligible for door prizes, and one would also win a meet and greet with Rasberry later this fall.

Equest offered up therapy horses and donkeys to liven up video conferences. (Courtesy photo)

But Habitat isn’t the only charity that found itself turning to the internet to fundraise. Several organizations, including AWARE, Rainbow Days, Dallas Symphony Orchestra League, the Dallas Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Girl’s Inc., and The Texas Ballet Theater launched virtual events since April.

“We wanted to engage our community during this crisis and continue to help fund life-changing T1D research and progress,” said JDRF Dallas executive director Amy Camp. “We decided a virtual silent auction is the best way to do both.”

Equest provided comic relief in the form of horses and donkeys that crashed conference calls. For $50, one of Equest’s 30 therapy horses, or Taco, the miniature donkey, made cameo appearances in video conferences.

In the case of TITAS/Dance Unbound, pivoting has meant asking patrons to donate or defer their season tickets. It’s also meant that executive director Charles Santos has spent a lot of time in conference calls with other arts organizations, discussing best practices when theaters can open up.

Former Dallas Cowboy Darren Woodson will be a keynote speaker at the Rainbow Days Pot of Gold Virtual Event this month. (Courtesy photo)

“There are no bad ideas,” Santos said. “Everything is on the table.”

For TITAS, which brings dance troupes to the area, a festival and gala planned for August were ultimately eliminated.

“We had to scratch that ‘cause we were going to do the gala command performance, but we’re not secure enough that the theaters will be open,” he explained.

Instead, the organization will concentrate on U.S.-based dance companies for its upcoming season, and an opening night event in October – provided it’s safe.

In the meantime, Santos said they are potentially bringing “behind the scenes” type content and virtual salons online.

“There’s nothing like seeing a live performance,” he said. “But what we’re trying to get put together are process stories where we’re meeting with the choreographer, and there’s footage of the rehearsal process and interviews with dancers and then a snippet of a work to sort of build excitement.”

Virtual Events Coming Up:

• Rainbow Days Silent Auction, June 16-25
• Rainbow Days Pot of Gold Virtual Event, June 25, noon
• Texas Ballet Theater Relief Fund, ongoing
• TACA Relief Fund, ongoing

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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