Do you know the part in Oklahoma (the musical) where they are trying to raise money to build the schoolhouse and the bids keep going up and up? Well, some of that spirit
(minus the gunplay!) was here in Rochester for the UofR Medical Center’s Toast to Your Health wine auction. This was absolutely one of the most successful fundraisers I’ve been involved in after 20 years of doing things like this.


    First, it was a great mix of people. Top local philanthropists, UR friends and med staff… an excellent mix.

What else made the event click so well? These things I saw might help others with their events:

The auctioneer was amazing. Engaging, extremely knowledgeable on his topic, respected by the guests (he was a wine expert), funny. He knew to do the ‘let’s do two of that’ idea when the bidding was fierce on high-ticket items.

The timing was right. UofR has a relatively new President, the URMC has a very new CEO, the Cancer Center is being built and the UR just announced the first vaccine to fight cancer… I know you can’t make all of that happen, but when it happens all at once, get ready for a terrific response to your well-planned event.

These were very rare, classy items, that could be donated from a wide variety of sources around Rochester and nationally

They showed a fantastic video about the new center, along with testimonials of cancer survivors

There was lots of wine, lots of friends and a photographer to snap your picture when you bid high 😉
Although I wasn’t obnoxious, realizing some donors like to be low-key and I respect that. Super-high bidders were presented a bottle of champaign, so that guaranteed that I got a nice shot of them.

So it was a fantastic night.
The highlight for me came in a way that I can’t really show in a still photo… Just like in Oklahoma, people were being asked to donate directly for the new cancer center… outfit the patient area, etc and one by one, a wave of cards go up to give…to make this part of the center terrific for patients. And to hear the auctioneer chanting out the roll call of numbers to be recorded was just magic… you had to be there…

A broader perspective: We lost George Eastman’s generation of donors, then the extremely generous corporations they all founded had a tough time recently in Rochester, and I’ve been concerned as our current group philanthropists are aging… but, you know, what I saw at the UR, with the YMCA’s Invest in Youth campaign and with everything Mr. Golisano gets involved in… I think Rochester is in great shape.

So best of luck to everyone at the UR Medical Center/Strong, congratulations on a great event and God Bless the donors who are helping make a great Cancer Center.

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