Three fundraisers supported by 100 individual donors raised over $36,000 to assist BGES in several critical areas and further strengthened our financial position as the 2021 fiscal year winds down. The calls for support were quickly and generously responded to, displaying the widespread and loyal devotion to the BGES from its members and friends.
No one can fully appreciate the disruptive nature of the pandemic on our Field University program unless you worked the last-minute challenges of each individual program juxtaposed against the threat of the Delta variant. As programs were slipped, canceled, and rescheduled, registrants were challenged to evaluate the state of the pandemic and their own vulnerabilities. Many folks were quarantined by international travel restrictions, while others found the outbreaks of the Delta variant troubling. This reality had a corrosive effect on our operations, and each program had to be massaged, often up to the day of execution. Five fall programs ended up being canceled or rescheduled. A quirk of the National Park Service dating back to 1915 compelled us to offer one of our most popular programs for free. With 30 folks registered, the loss of nearly $15,000 in registrations was a significant drain on our budget. We determined to offset that with a special fundraiser. Little did we realize how essential this would be to keep our operations solvent.
BGES Seminar Shortfall Fundraiser
From August 1, we announced an online BGES Seminar Shortfall Fundraiser. Our goal was $20,000, but we quietly hoped for $25,000 to offset the nearly $5,000 expense of Gettysburg. The response to the 30-day drive was exceptional, with 58 donors giving $29,925. In as much as I publicly advised the attendees in Gettysburg that no donation was expected nor would be directly solicited, we were particularly heartened to receive donations from 24 of 30 participants. Another 34 donors fleshed out the funding profile for the appeal.
The unintended consequence was that the appeal helped us offset several programs that we agreed to execute, only to find the registration numbers disintegrate. One program was to have 11 attendees, but by the time we kicked it off, we had dropped to just two folks, and one had to leave on the next to last day, leaving one driver, the historian, and one attendee. Another program was projected to have a dozen folks and was conducted with five, a third had 16 registrations and in a few days dropped to seven as the Covid numbers for the state suggested a high risk to attendees. Still another program with nine people fell apart in two days and was moved to another year. And just last week, another program with big numbers had 42 sign up, only to execute with 26. Refunds and other expenses ate up the pot of funds created by the Seminar Shortfall Fundraiser—a truly serendipitous happenstance. The net effect on us was the funds were available to meet the requirements. Thanks so much.
Len’s Annual Facebook Birthday Fundraiser
Another fundraiser benefited BGES as Len’s Annual Facebook Birthday Fundraiser found 25 of his online friends contributing $3,075 to upgrade the BGES Apple equipment inventory. We were able to acquire a new IPad Air 4, Verizon Wi-Fi with a smart keyboard and magic pencil, a new iPhone 13 Pro, and a MacBook Pro 13″ laptop computer. The time savings by the higher speed processors is significant. He spends little time watching spinning balls on his screen. It is a real force multiplier. This Facebook program has delivered more than $10,000 in donations over the past four years for BGES. What is better than vectoring birthday well wishes to friends, many known only across the internet, into a benefit for the BGES? It only gets better.
Finally, a sad occasion was turned into a celebration as one of BGES’s most devoted supporters passed away in February. Covid compelled the family to delay the funeral until September. The family requested memorial gifts to BGES in lieu of flowers. Because the member had donated to BGES more than 400 times in his 23+ year membership, and his family continued the tradition of monthly gifts to BGES, we made the decision to pay for the cost of the post-service reception. Seventeen friends of Dave and BGES members donated a bit over $3,000, which was a major part of the final bill.
This has been a unique and unusual year for many reasons, but the results only strengthen our resolve to excel. The continued strong support for BGES encourages us to charge ahead, confident that new and more ambitious educational projects will be generously supported and completed on schedule.
Many thanks to all who make us such a vibrant organization.