Small Board Spotlight: Fundraising Event

By Julie Ziemelis

Action Beyond Size

Strength in numbers” is a popular axiom. However, when you have only 1,600 Realtor® and affiliate members and need to raise tens of thousands of
dollars to fund low-income housing grants, you need something more—spunk and enthusiasm.

The Santa Cruz Association of Realtors®, Calif. Housing Foundation sold 800 tickets and raised $63,000 for the second annual “A Taste of Santa Cruz” fund-raiser held Nov. 2, 2006, in Santa Cruz.

How did we do it? Here are some details:


The event featured 34 booths. Each booth comprised real estate, mortgage, or other affiliate companies that paid $200 a piece to participate. In turn, these sponsors approached local restaurants and wineries, asking them to provide 600 “tastes” of food (or drink). A portion of the sponsors paid for the food themselves and some of the restaurants and wineries donated goods and services. Each booth sponsor also was responsible for procuring five silent-auction gifts, each valued at a minimum of $50. This effort resulted in 150 silent auction gifts on the tables and helped raise thousands of dollars.

Eight live-auction gifts also were donated, including a stay in a townhouse in Amsterdam and weeklong trips to Hawaii and Mexico. The most interesting gift was our own chief executive officer, Philip Tedesco, who was auctioned off to spend an afternoon with the highest bidder in the “Phun with Phil” package.

Efforts to sell the $30 tickets to the event focused on real estate industry professionals, who made up the bulk of the attendees, and consumers.

The 10 “A Taste of Santa Cruz” committee members made office presentations to local real estate companies to help drive ticket sales, and distributed posters and flyers to real estate industry offices and participating restaurants.

Staff members were responsible for publicity, ticket management, and silent auction preparation and sales, as well as providing manpower for registration.

Last year, the event raised $45,000 and attracted about 600 attendees. The $18,000 increase in funds raised was due to a more prolific search for event sponsors and a doubling of event square footage to hold more attendees. We hope to attract even more sponsor dollars for 2007 but maintain the event capacity at 800 attendees so the event space is not overwhelmed.

“I am absolutely thrilled at the level of community support and the amount of funds generated at this event,” said Tedesco. “We are the little association that could. We plan on doing a lot more as this fund-raising event continues to gain momentum in the Santa Cruz community and we gain more exposure for the work we are doing in putting low-income families into homes. We have gained crucial political and media exposure for our efforts, and I encourage other associations looking for a potential fund-raising event to consider implementing A Taste of Your Town.

With the Santa Cruz Association of Realtors® underwriting the event, all of the event proceeds went to low-income housing grants for families making below 80 percent of the median income in Santa Cruz County. The average grant size is $5,000, which means that funds raised will help 12 families with home purchases during 2007.

For more information, contact Julie Ziemelis, Santa Cruz Association of Realtors® marketing director, 831/464-2000, For more information about the event, visit the association’s Housing Foundation Web site at

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