Monday, May 7, 2012

Classic Wines is a Classic Win

We often are asked why YWCA Clark County participates in the annual Classic Wines Auction after more than a decade of hosting its own auction. Although the name and venue are different, the mission of this fundraiser has not changed.

What began as a small group of friends exchanging wine from personal collections to raise funds for women, children and families, became the Classic Wines Auction; one of the top ten charity wine auctions in the United States according to Wine Spectator magazine, prompting organizers to form a separate nonprofit entity in July 2004 supporting five Portland-based charities.

In 2008, YWCA leadership recognized that after 15 years of holding its own highly visible and successful auction, it was showing signs of strain. In our final year, it was more difficult to get attendees, items and sponsors. There were so many more events than there used to be – more non-profits raising money – that there was auction fatigue throughout the philanthropic community.

Around this time Classic Wines Auction asked YWCA Clark County to apply to be one of their partnership charities. YWCA leadership thought it was a good opportunity and good timing with the way things were trending.

Classic Wines Auction partners with non-profit organizations with the following characteristics: mission compatibility, effective organizational management, sound financial practices, Board-led fundraising, sustainability, and a solid volunteer network. The opportunity to marry our fundraising efforts with an organization that could widen our financial base was a great fit.

YWCA plays an active role in the success of the main auction and other supporting events. We offer opportunities for event underwriting, table sponsorships, procurement and attendance. Because of this, our staff, volunteer base and time is only one fourth the investment of our own auction. By having an organizing charity take the lead on logistics, YWCA does not have to secure venues, caterers, florists and a number of other items required to make an event this size flow smoothly.
The “Wine Working Wonders” is the main auction that takes place the first Saturday each March. The week preceding the auction, offers nearly thirty Winemaker Dinners and other wine functions. These are open to the public and a great alternative for people unable to attend the main auction.

Our involvement at this year’s event, which raised $2.47 million, proved to be very valuable to our organization. Total revenue is divided among Class Wines Auction and the partner charities. This month, YWCA will receive $350,000 in event proceeds. Only 23% of the YWCA’s revenue comes from philanthropy giving, of which Classic Wines revenue accounts for 58%. It is clear that YWCA Clark County truly benefits from this partnership.

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