Springfield nonprofit’s UnGala is a different type of fundraiser

While planning its 2020 activities at a retreat a few months back, a Nehemiah Foundation board member joked he’d pay not to have to do yet another fundraiser, a necessary but repetitive requirement of being a nonprofit. It led to laughs among the staff of the faith-based organization.

Then a unique thing happened: What began as a humorous notion blossomed into a distinctive idea as the Nehemiah Foundation’s first UnGala fundraiser. It’s set for 6-8 p.m. Saturday, April 18.

The timing couldn’t have been better as the coronavirus pandemic has canceled numerous events and here’s one that encourages people to do at home while social distancing.

The process is simple - make a donation to the Nehemiah Foundation; get takeout food from a local restaurant; dress up or stay in your most comfortable outfit and enjoy the evening at home.

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Nehemiah Foundation director of operations Jenna Potts said the UnGala was going to be a couple of weeks earlier, but the pandemic moved it back and hopes people will enjoy it.

“The timing was odd and not intentional, it just worked out,” said Potts. “One of the things we liked about it is instead of having to get a babysitter for the night or buy clothes to go to an event, you can stay at home and still have fun and support local businesses.”

During the UnGala, participants are encouraged to share photos on social media and tag what they’re doing at #ungala2020 or #nehemiahfoundation.

“You can sit in your PJs and hit the donate button or dress up, that’s part of the fun,” Potts said.

The goal is to raise $10,000. Suggested donations start at $25, as if you’d attend an event single or up to $150, similar to buying a table and inviting others to attend. Funds will go to a variety of Nehemiah Foundation efforts, including helping the local community during the pandemic, such as seniors, the homeless and ministries and churches.

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The Nehemiah Foundation has spent recent weeks partnering with Interfaith Hospitality Network to deliver meals. It also hopes to spread awareness of its mission in the community.

The organization recently created forspringfield.com, a community platform for needs and those who want to get involved to help.

Should the UnGala prove popular, Potts can see it becoming a signature fundraiser.

“We’d love to do it again; it’s such fun to not have to go somewhere but still make a difference,” she said.

For more information on the UnGala or to make a donation, go to nehemiahfoundation.org.

Anyone who purchases takeout from the Buckeye Sports Lodge on Friday or Saturday and shows the UnGala logo will result in 15 percent of that sale going back to the Nehemiah Foundation.

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