Fundraising challenges lead to new opportunities.
By Kathy Fenney
The Soup Kitchen of Muncie relies on the generosity of donors to keep going, and traditionally, our biggest fundraiser has been the Annual Dinner.
For 2022, however, the board of directors has decided instead to focus its fundraising efforts on smaller events spread throughout the year.
“The Annual Dinner, while successful, is taking a hiatus,” Fundraising Chair Christiana Mann said.
This approach allows sponsors to tailor their experience by picking how many and which kinds of events they would like to support. Additionally, it gives individual Soup Kitchen supporters a variety of types of events to attend, depending on personal preferences and availability. Some events will be simple donation drop-off events. Others will involve food, beverages, music, and mingling.
This year’s fundraising events have included a Dan’s Fish Fry held at the Knights of Columbus building during Lent and a private backyard concert. Several exciting events are planned for fall, including Stuff-a-Bus, Sip for Soup, and the Soup Kitchen’s first ever Chili Cookoff.
One reason the Soup Kitchen is shifting focus is because of trends prompted by the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, the Annual Dinner raised nearly half of the Soup Kitchen’s annual budget, according to Clare Chatot, Past President of the board. Funds were raised through sponsorships, ticket sales, and an auction.
Events like Giving Tuesday, the Annual Appeal, and small donations, as well as grants, made up the remainder of the Soup Kitchen budget.
In 2020, with COVID-19 positivity levels high, the Board felt it was necessary to cancel the Annual Dinner.
“Nearly every sponsor encouraged the Soup Kitchen to keep their sponsorship funds despite the cancellation of the event. We were very blessed that sponsor let us keep that money,” said Loretta Parsons, Executive Director or the Soup Kitchen
That year also saw an increase in the number and size of donations made during the Annual Appeal and Giving Tuesday. This generosity allowed the Soup Kitchen to pivot with COVID restrictions and find new and better ways to serve patrons despite pandemic challenges.
The Board opted to go ahead with the Annual Dinner in 2021, with a few changes to accommodate the ‘new normal” These changes included socially distanced seating and a request to wear masks when not seated at a dinner table.
Chatot reports that, despite these changes, sponsorships were down considerably and attendance was roughly half that of previous years.
The Board recognized that, amongst a thousand other things that have changed since the beginning of the pandemic, the way the Soup Kitchen raises funds needed to change, too. The days of large, formal gatherings were fading.
It’s time to try something new, and the Soup Kitchen welcomes the challenge.
We hope to see you at one of our upcoming events:
Stuff-A-Bus Saturday, September 17 from 9am-4pm at the Pay Less on Tillotson
Sips for Soup Saturday October 15 from 4pm-7pm at Tonne Winery
SKOM Chili Cook off Saturday November 12