How Local Fundraisers Are Going Virtual

Just because the physical event is canceled, doesn’t mean the cause is too.

Parties, concerts, music festivals and weddings are among the long list of events canceled in light of the pandemic. However, for causes close to the hearts of many, fundraisers must go on — just virtually. 

One such cause is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man & Woman of the Year fundraiser. The fundraiser has pivoted from its original in-person form to a virtual wine tasting event. The event will consist of two wine tastings on May 18 and 19 at 7 p.m. hosted by Katie Espinosa, Fine Wine Director and Advanced Sommelier at Johnson Brothers Wisconsin, along with Elizabeth Butler and Erin Drain, friends of Espinosa’s in the industry.

Tickets for the event cost $25 and will go to the candidate of the purchaser’s choice. The wine for the event can be ordered for curbside pick up at Ray’s (8930 W. North Ave.) starting this Tuesday. RSVP by emailing to purchase a ticket and receive the wine list.

“So many things are canceled—but you know what isn’t? Cancer!” said Jane Stein, a member of Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s board of trustees and co-chair of the Man and Woman of the Year campaign.

Skylight Music Theatre is also hosting a virtual fundraiser to benefit the theatre and celebrate its 60th anniversary. The event, Skylight Sings: A Virtual Concert will take place Thursday, May 21 at 7 p.m. featuring a wide range of skylight performers such as former Milwaukeean and two-time Broadway Tony Award nominee, Kate Baldwin. The fundraiser concert is available to current and new donors who have donated $100 or more this season. 

“These are unprecedented times for every arts organization,” said Jack R. Lemmon, Skylight’s Executive Director in a press release on Monday. “This concert not only is a way for us to raise money during the crisis, but our way of saying thank you to our loyal donors and supporters who are standing ready, with us, to make sure that Skylight will continue to offer exceptional musical theatre long into our next 60 years.”

The YWCA of Southeast Wisconsin was among the organizations that had to pivot their fundraisers. Their Circle of Women: Face of the Future event was set to be held in-person on April 23, but had to be altered into a hybrid experience with a virtual event held on April 23 with an in-person continuation of the event in the fall when it would be safe to gather. The event celebrated the 25th anniversary of Circle of Women. Although a fundraising event, given the new virtual format of the event, Ginny Finn, the President and CEO of YWCA, explained that the main goal of the event was not fundraising, but rather giving those who care about and support their mission a great virtual experience.

“It went extremely well from our point of view and it hasn’t stopped going. We had an overall goal of certain attendance as well as financial fundraising and as of that night, we were within $20,000 of the original financial goal overall,” said Finn. “We are continuing to fundraise and we are still doing it all as part of Circle of Women. I think that’s one of the benefits of a virtual event is that unlike an event that’s one night, this is an ongoing thing and we’re still raising money since April 23.”

On May 18, YWCA will hold an info session on the creation of the event. Then, following the presentation, all those in virtual attendance will receive a link to the event itself. To pre-register, do so here.

The Red Cross of Wisconsin’s Southeast Wisconsin Chapter has its 15th annual Brave Hearts gala in the books, set to be held virtually all week long, starting this Thursday, May 14 at 7 p.m. through May 21. Although originally set to be held in-person, much like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Skylight Music Theatre’s fundraisers, The Red Cross decided to pivot the event rather than canceling it. 



Allie is an Editorial Intern at Milwaukee Magazine. She is a senior at UW-Milwaukee studying Creative Writing and Journalism. You can follow her on Instagram at @alliehabck