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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