By Rebecca Shurtleff

Earlier this spring, the Wildwood Foundation branched out with a new event: Trivia Night. The fundraiser was held in mid-March at Fort Orange Brewing in downtown Albany, and ended up being highly successful in both the fundraising and community outreach aspects. 

Only a couple weeks later, we all found ourselves staying safe at home in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis. Enter Virtual Trivia Night.  Much like its precursor, Virtual Trivia Night was created as an attempt to bring people together. This time, however, it all had to be done online.

The primary push was for connection. By creating “teams” through video chat, friends and family members were able to help each other answer questions. It proved to be a great way for everyone to stay in touch – interdepartmental teams were created, families got to converse and connect with one another and far away friends even logged in to play and learn more about Wildwood in the process.

As the weeks progressed and the requirements to avoid large groups and stay inside continued, the 2020 Spring Gala –intended to be held May 1st at the Desmond – was postponed indefinitely. With this, the Foundation once again found themselves in a position where they needed to change their plans. This time, they had to accommodate their largest annual fundraiser of the year.

Thanks to the creativity and resourcefulness of the Foundation team, an idea quickly formed for an online alternative. Called “The Catalog of Giving,” it was an online solution different from many of the virtual galas that continued to be held across the Capital Region. The Catalog was hosted through an online platform that pushed interactivity; embedded YouTube videos and MP3 audio clips were scattered throughout the flipbook and added to the overall uniqueness and connection that the experience provided. The Catalog primarily featured the ongoing work that is being accomplished by staff and emerging needs that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Foundation was able to retain a majority of sponsors from the Spring Gala, and the event even brought about two family challenges – a Family Match Challenge raised an additional $20,000 thanks to the Allen and Daggett families, and a 48 Donors in 48 Hours Challenge suggested by the Schmeler family raised $10,000 more. In total, the Catalog of Giving raised over $175,000, topping the initial goal and directly benefitting all those that Wildwood supports. 

While both events proved to be successful in achieving their goals of community connection and raising funds to support Wildwood, it will be an exciting day when everyone is able to gather again in person!

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