Beach House Inc.
Beach House’s care for homeless women and children is made possible through fun, creative fundraising initiatives such as “Summer in Paris,” “Fashion for a Cause,” and “Babes for Beach House.”
Beach House’s Creative Fundraising Draws Committed Givers
Beach House Inc. is a community based nonprofit located in an historic, seven-bedroom building in Toledo that serves as the city’s only whole-family and single women homeless shelter. Beach House shelters more than 200 individuals annually. One of its unique programming elements is its Goal-Directed Living program. Through it every resident in the shelter takes part in a goal group that meets weekly to set goals and evaluate progress.
Since Tammy Holder, Beach House’s Executive Director, would never ask participants to do anything that she and her staff do not participate in with equal measure, all staff members also participate. Managers turn in monthly qualitative and quantitative goals and Beach House’s Board of Directors establishes goals each year that they continuously revisit to ensure that they are following a set trajectory. Holder believes goal alignment is essential for Beach House residents to improve their circumstances, and also for the maintenance and efficient functioning of her own work and that of her staff and Board.
Fund development is a key arena for Holder’s own goals as Executive Director. In recent years she has successfully grown the nonprofit’s donor base by 380 percent—progress made possible, she says, by disciplined goal-setting and planning. Beach House, she says, operates “as a business first” so that it can keep effectively and faithfully serving community members in need.
Beach House has earned a reputation for fun, creative fundraising events. Holder reports that her Board of Directors has really “owned” fund development and credits them with the success of these events. The Board is composed of a diverse mix of individuals that lend many perspectives and ideas. “We are not all like-minded,” says Holder, “but [we’re] all like-hearted.” They have great fun planning events and seek to ensure that everyone who participates in them experience the same. In 2012, events raised one-fifth of Beach House’s operating budget.
One early fundraiser was the “Babes for Beach House” gatherings, times when a supporter hosts a gathering for women to enjoy good wines while discussing Beach House’s programs and committing resources. Each month a different community member hosts the meeting, and all participants bring a bottle of wine to share along with their contribution to Beach House. Recently these events have become known as “Babes and Boys for Beach House,” given that men now participate. One such event garnered an extra $2600 when one of the guys took donations for shaving off his hair and beard.
Beach House also hosts an annual fashion show fundraiser, “Fashion for a Cause.” Its signature event is the annual “Summer in Paris” event, a dress-attired dinner-auction event in which all proceeds of donated auction items go to the nonprofit. In June 2013 it garnered $43,000. For the past three years, the organization has also conducted a Holiday Fund Drive, which last year raised $28,000.
Executive Director Holder suggests Beach House’s fundraising has been strong for a few key reasons:
- Highly targeted focus. “Our niche is homeless services,” Holder says, and in particular, providing shelter and operating the Goal-Directed Living Program. At one point the nonprofit accepted donations of clothing and household goods, but now encourages in-kind donors to become monetary donors, so that resources can be singularly focused on the organization’s key programs.
- Planning events that are “something people want to do.” In this, the diversity of the Board is a real strength as members offer a wide variety of ideas for recreation that can appeal to many different groups.
- Giving autonomy to the volunteers running the events. Excellent, well-run events emerge from committed, thoughtful leaders who take ownership and responsibility. As long as a clear plan and goals are in place, Beach House’s board gives the organizers latitude to make the event their own.