The Gala will be held on February 9th at 5:00 pm until 8:00pm. After you have seen our artists painting live on the streets of Old Naples, come to the auction to be held at a private club in Port Royal and bid on your favorite paintings. Profits benefit David Lawrence Center which provides mental health and substance abuse treatment and counseling to Southwest Florida children, adults and families.
Each February, artists paint the wonderful buildings, original cottages, fountains, plazas, and courtyards of the Third Street South Historic District. The Birthplace of Naples, which includes The Pier, Crayton Cove, The City Docks, and at its center, Third Street South provides so many beautiful vignettes for the artists to capture. Come watch the artists create and if you find paintings you can’t live without, come to the auction and bid on your favorites.
Robertson is considered one of the premier professional benefit auctioneers working in the United States today. In the past 20 years, Robertson has conducted hundreds of benefit auctions throughout Florida and the Southeastern United States and annually raises millions of dollars for a variety of not-for-profit organizations, schools and charities.
Adding in the previous evening’s vintner dinners, when guests paid ,000 each for desirable wines and exquisite dishes prepared by some of the finest chefs in Southwest Florida, the festival — organized by SWFL Children’s Charities Inc. — raised approximately .5 million.
It’s become the most profitable fundraising event in Lee County thanks to great food and wine and plenty of amazing auction packages — and a lot of work by many people since its inception in 2004. The two-day event kicks off Friday, beginning with dinners featuring select vintners and local chefs in private homes from Fort Myers to Naples, and concludes with the Grand Tasting and Auction the following day at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club.
“To have a really successful fundraiser, you have to have these multiple components that all need to come together,” said Steve Machiz, founder of the Wine Fest, which has raised more than .9 million.
He developed the event for the Rotary Club of Fort Myers in 2004. Machiz came up with a unique formula for the festival that has kept the event fresh and exciting for donors who eagerly give each year, and even attracts donors from out of state.
It’s the anatomy of the festival, with each component of the event studied and showcased to complement the next — from selecting a venue that feels intimate with great acoustics to inviting a young child to the live auction who benefits from the event — giving it a human presence and cementing the reality of who the fundraiser helps. All those moving parts make the event successful year after year, he said.
Wine Fest trustees thought of offering more than fine food and boutique wines so select that only 5,000 to 10,000 cases are produced each year. They work together to fashion auction lots that could not be bought or replicated, that are so unique, attendees will bid vigorously.
And it’s not just about the prizes, but giving itself.
Each year, while the auction is in mid-swing, and the energy is high in the room with what money has been raised so far, attendees eagerly give their money to purchase lifesaving medical equipment on the wish list for the children’s hospital. Last year, participants at the auction purchased 13 GE Healthcare Giraffe OmniBeds, infant beds designed to replicate the womb environment, with each bed costing ,000.
Developing a way to help attendees visualize what their contributions can provide and making it more real to them is a smart move, said Lindsday Nichols, spokeswoman for Guidestar.org, which gathers and disseminates information about nonprofits for greater transparency.
“Now, these fundraising events are more like engagement events,” she said. “It’s to hear about what’s been accomplished and what’s coming next.”
It’s key for nonprofits to figure out what donors want and giving them that, finding ways to be creative in their fundraising efforts while being truthful and transparent about where the funds are going, she said.
The Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest is unique in that it has next to no overhead. Its parent organization, SWFL Children’s Charities Inc., has no staff and rents no office space, spending just under 5,000 last year for the 2013 Wine Fest to cover fundraising service expenses for the firm that orchestrates the event and advertising costs, according to tax records.
It’s a point of pride for the group and part of its success that nearly all the money raised goes directly to the charities is supports – the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, the pediatric nursing program at Edison State College and the music therapy program at FGCU.
Other nonprofits that serve Lee County have annual revenues reaching as high as million — such as the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida. That organization raises money and collects food throughout the year, not just with one signature annual event.
“Our job is to raise money and food and to distribute it, not to keep it,” said Al Brislain, president and CEO of the food bank. “Just like the Wine Fest’s job is to raise money and distribute it.”
Brislain said its signature event, the WINK News’ Feeds Families Hunger Walk, raised about 0,000 this year and kept its costs for the event well below 10 percent of that total.
Other signature fundraising events in Lee County such as CCMI’s Sam Galloway Jr. and Friends Soup Kitchen benefit — set for March 11 — raised 0,000 in 2013, and the Celebration of Reading, which took place Friday, raised .3 million.
With less than a week to go, preparations for the Wine & Food Fest are in their final stages — and those attending and event beneficiaries are hopeful for even better results.
“We create a frenzy, an ambiance, of excitement and we always bring home the message that what you raise here is going directly to the community,” Machiz said.