The Covid pandemic has impacted almost every area of our lives, but for many nonprofits, the impact on fundraising has been severe. For most of our 35 years, HBS Community Partners has relied heavily on support from the HBS Club of Northern California and particularly on the annual fall gala event for the Club’s Business Leader of the Year Award. The cancellation of that Fall dinner, as well as other in-person fundraising events during 2020, sent us searching for new approaches to funding in 2021.
Unfortunately, our resources have diminished just as the Covid pandemic, along with the renewed awareness of social and economic disparities in California, has stretched many of our client organizations to the brink, leading to unprecedented demands for us to help them build their capacity to reach more people.
We took that dilemma seriously, and decided to make it the theme of a new fundraising initiative. On January 14 we began planning for our first online fundraiser. Just six weeks later, at 7pm on February 25, we will hold Step Up to 2021!, an online event that will ask participants to step up to the challenges that the pandemic has brought to our community. We partnered with PayBee, to use their innovative online auction platform that was designed for nonprofit fundraising. We also began looking for speakers who could share how they were stepping up to the challenges they face, as well as former HBS CP clients who could explain how our services had helped their organizations meet the challenges they have overcome:
- Larry Baer, MBA 1985, CEO and President, SF Giants, will speak on overcoming adversity in the high-stakes world of the MLB.
- Joaquín Torres, former Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, City and County of San Francisco, and HBS Community Partners client, will offer his perspective on how the City is meeting the challenges of our changing economy and resulting disparities.
- Rob Zeaske, MBA 2002, Director, HBS Social Enterprise Initiative, will offer a broad view of how business school graduates are driving positive changes in their communities.
- Justin Prettyman, Executive Director, 49ers Foundation, and HBS Community Partners client will describe how HBS CP worked with his organization to educate and empower Bay Area Youth through a collective of innovative and community-focused strategies.
Each year HBS Community Partners enables about 200 HBS alums to offer pro bono consulting and advisory services to over 50 non-profits engaged in social services, the arts, and environmental work. The help we provide in areas such as organizational strategy, delivery models, market focus, fund-raising, and governance is leveraged a hundred-fold by the critical work these organizations do–often for the most vulnerable residents of our region.
In less than 6 weeks, we have put together a virtual event that will not only raise funds, but also provide a way for our supporters to catch up with one another and celebrate our 35th year of service. Comedian Jimmy Tingle, Harvard Kennedy School alum and founder of Humor for Humanity, will keep guests entertained during the evening, as they enjoy a Live Auction, featuring:
- An unforgettable experience for the winning bidder and up to 20 guests at the renowned Freeman Winery, whose wines are served at Michelin 3-star restaurants and at the White House. The party will enjoy a private VIP wine tasting and tour by the owner and winemaker, followed by an exquisite Japanese lunch served outdoors and prepared by star Chef Sogi, skillfully paired with Freeman wines. The lucky winner also gets to spend 2 nights at the 3-BR Freeman Winery Cottage, the perfect base for exploring the scenic Russian River Valley.
Step Up to 2021! guests who want to extend the evening beyond 8pm can join the virtual After Party, where they can mix and catch up with classmates, teammates, and friends. Those who can’t wait for the 25th, or can’t attend that evening, can still participate by accessing the Silent Online Auction that began on February 12, with offerings of fine wine and dining options, fantastic getaways, unique sports offerings, and more.
Like so many other nonprofits, HBS Community Partners has been stretched by the pandemic to find new ways to do our work and maintain support. With Step Up to 2021!, we are seeing that we can raise funds, keep our supporters engaged, and continue our valuable work for the organizations that do so much for all of us in the Bay Area.