The following article is contributed by HFMN Event Committee member Brent Sabati.
If you’ve been involved with philanthropy, non-profits, and charity work, you’re probably familiar with events like fundraising dinners and galas. In the pre-COVID era, many of us would look forward to dressing up and enjoying a night of good food and even better company. The ask and call for donations at the end was a key revenue source for many philanthropic endeavors.
However, times are changing and nonprofit organizations must adapt to not only host events in accordance with social distancing policies, but also to meet the changing needs and demographics of their donor base. It’s estimated that Baby Boomers will transfer $68 trillion over the next 25 years to their children and younger generations. This makes it imperative for organizations that rely on individual gifts to understand what these donors expect out of fundraising events and development efforts.
Home Front Military Network, a Colorado-based nonprofit that serves veterans, military members, and their families, is one such organization that is innovating and creating fundraising events that adapt to this “new norm”.
HFMN is a newly formed organization that stemmed from the merger of two long-standing pillars in the local veteran community, The Home Front Cares and Peak Military Care Network. Their merger in 2020, combined the efforts of both organizations to streamline access to key services.
Even before the effects of COVID-19, the leadership at HFMN saw a strategic need to reach donors and supporters from different demographics to maintain the longevity of the organization in order to continue its vital mission. This need was only magnified by the impacts of the pandemic and its effects on the already saturated market of requests for grants and other monetary support.
In response to this, HFMN started planning an event that not only catered to a younger audience, but was also more feasible as in-person events became more and more difficult to plan: a virtual video gaming/eSports tournament.
Esports, a burgeoning industry, is valued to be worth nearly $1 billion with tournaments that have grand prize pools of up to $34 million. With millions of players and viewers worldwide, this type of event has increasing potential to captivate younger, philanthropically minded generations.
The tournament that HFMN hosted had players and teams across multiple games compete for a cash prize. A wide variety of players came out to participate in the event, ranging from semi-pro esports teams, military affiliated teams, and casual gamers.
With the support of sponsors, community partners, and amateur competitors, HFMN was able to successfully host a virtual tournament that had little startup costs, was scalable, and didn’t have to worry about gathering restrictions and social distancing. HFMN recently had its second tournament and saw net proceeds from the event increase by over 300% from their inaugural event.
A virtual eSports tournament isn’t the only event that HFMN has in its lineup of pioneering events. On July 23rd, HFMN will be partnering with Parsons for a golf tournament at Cheyenne Shadows Golf Course. HFMN will also host a benefit concert at the Boot Barn Dance Hall in August, featuring local cover-band, The SofaKillers. One of HFMN’s more unique fundraising events for 2021 will be our Healthy Together Week in September. This week will be filled with several mini activity-related events—including a Pickleball Tournament and Yoga in the Park (taught by Cambio Yoga Studio).
Each of these events, though fun and engaging, will further fulfill HFMN’s mission of serving military members, veterans and families.