MINT HILL, NC – From May 15 through May 23, Mint Hill’s Chamber of Commerce with sponsor Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center will host a virtual auction to raise funds for COVID relief grants as well as many of the Chamber’s signature programs.
Many of the Chamber’s annual fundraising events have been postponed or cancelled over the last twelve months due to COVID. While the fundraisers may have been put on hold, the programs they fund haven’t gone away. Events like the Spring Tea and Brunch are essential for funding programs like the junior ambassadors program, the high school scholarship program, the women’s networking breakfast, coffee connections and some of the community events that the Chamber sponsors.
In fact, the Chamber actually faced greater need this year as it attempted to support struggling businesses. “We had a good number of businesses adversely affected by the shutdown through no fault of their own,” said Committee Member Jennifer Manchester. “When people are struggling to pay rent and everyday expenses, the reality is they’ll let their Chamber membership go. We were able to retain members through some grants that we offered.”
There’s no way around it: continuing to fund all those programs takes money. As the pandemic and its accompanying social distancing protocols dragged on into the new year, the Chamber had to get creative and come up with new ways to generate revenue. “Back at the end of last year, we started to be proactive and put our thinking caps on brainstorming to come up with other ideas to bring in money,” said Manchester.
One idea that caught their eye was a virtual auction. They spoke with Melissa Tamez of Bright Blessings about her recent and successful virtual auction and began to think about staging something similar. “Our overall goal was to at least be able to replace the revenue that we would have generated from the tea, because that is the fundraiser so far we have not been able to hold this year,” said Manchester.
An added benefit of the auction is being able to showcase Chamber members, both those whose goods and services are up for auction and those who sponsor those packages. “If one of our members sells a service, and not goods, they can partner with another one of our members,” said Executive Director Paige McKinney. “They can either just purchase their goods from them, or they can go in together and do it. That way, both of the businesses get exposure.”
McKinney and Manchester hope that not just Chamber members but the whole Mint Hill Community will come together to make the virtual auction a success. “For anyone that want to participate but maybe doesn’t know how, we actually do have a list of items that we know were popular with Melissa’s fundraiser,” said Manchester, “so if you come in and tell us what your budget is, we can make suggestions and even help facilitate putting those packages together.”
Of course, everyone in the Mint Hill community is also welcome to participate in the auction! Beginning May 15, anyone will be able to view and bid on all the items for auction online. “It works like a regular auction; it’s just an online platform,” said Manchester. “If there’s a particular item you want, you can track it to make you’re the high bidder. Once you win the bid, you can actually go online and purchase it, so it works very similar to the way it would if we were doing it in person.”
The event will also feature raffle items, which will be posted on the event’s website. You’ll be able to purchase raffle tickets online, and plans are in the works to offer them in person at the Chamber as well. Raffle tickets will be $5 each or 5 for $20. “Everyone can participate in this event whether they only have $5 to spend or they want to bid on bigger ticket items like a trip to the beach or Banner Elk!” said Manchester.
“We just encourage people to get involved,” says McKinney. “This is an event that we not only want our Chamber members to help support, but the entire community. It is our goal to come alongside of these businesses that have been affected by COVID and really help them and provide them with what they need to continue to make it to the other side.”