NewsPinellas County


Virtual fundraising events take the place of galas

Posted at 4:45 PM, May 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 18:17:23-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Nonprofits, like a local opera group, depend on fundraising events to keep them going for the year.

So what happens when a global pandemic keeps them from filling a a room for a gala event?

For the St. Petersburg Opera Company to operate, they need the money that comes from their yearly event called "Bella Voce Vincero."

“Vincero is like 'I will be victorious. We will survive. We will thrive,'" said Chris Green, special projects manager with the St. Petersburg Opera Company.

“Ticket sales don’t come close to covering the cost of productions," he said.

The Opera will survive after moving its fundraising gala online.

“Many organizations had to quickly decide what they wanted to do," said Jason Alpert.

Alpert enterprises hosted the virtual gala, and is doing several others for charitable organizations around Tampa Bay.

“The St. Petersburg Opera was one of the first ones to very quickly say we are not canceling Bella Voce," said Alpert.

The event had musical performances. Live and silent auctions. And you could even get your dinner delivered to go along with the gala.

“We are basically doing these programs very similar to a Jerry Lewis Telethon from back in the day. But instead of a big phone bank that people are calling in, they are all doing their bidding and donating through handheld devices through all these different mobile bidding companies," said Alpert.

The Opera says they far exceeded goals, raising about $86,000.

And because costs for an online gala are much less than the in-person kind, nonprofits are finding they are raising about the same amount of money.

“I think this virtual concept is going to be with us in one form or another. So now, we’ve had our chance to help our patrons through the process the first time and blew it out of the water," said Green.

The St. Pete Opera isn't yet sure where they'll be able to return to the stage.

You can see the virtual fundraiser here: