For nonprofits, fundraisers are a fact of life — and often a chance to appeal yet again to their loyal supporters.
Two local organizations are trying a different approach this year. They're planning events patterned on proven crowd-pleasers, and they're hoping to reach new people.
"We figured the world didn't need yet another golf outing," said Michael Pavone, a longtime member of the local National Multiple Sclerosis Society board, and president and CEO of Harrisburg-based Pavone Inc.
And, Pavone said, being a car guy himself, he wanted to find a way to bring that community and its enthusiasm into the fight against MS.
The result is Mille for MS, inspired by the famed Mille Miglia in Italy. Pavone's vision for a road rally featuring "some really spectacular cars" is scheduled for Oct. 19 and 20, and he expects to exceed his initial goal of 50 entrants.
"The big idea is to get people to try and do something different or unique and really have a good experience," he said. And, he said, it will give him a chance to give his "garage queen" — a replica of a 1995 Porsche Spyder, best known as the type of car James Dean died in — a good airing with some friends.
Margie Adelmann, president of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Central Pa. chapter, said the chapter is thrilled to have such enthusiastic supporters. It's still a challenging time to raise funds, she said, but it's a hopeful time in MS history.
"In September, we had the second oral treatment for MS approved," she said. A third is slated for approval later this year: "That will give us 10 disease-modifying drugs, that's been over the past not even 20 years, from the first disease-modifying drugs in 1993."
Uplifting Athletes Inc., headquartered in Harrisburg, is a national nonprofit that uses college football programs to fight rare diseases and give players job skills. For years, it has held Lift for Life events, strength competitions pitting offense against defense.
But this year, Uplifting Athletes is trying something new: a TV tailgate and BBQ cook-off designed to turn Metro Bank Park into a closer-to-home version of a Penn State football party.
"We are excited about the potential of this event," said Becky Mayes, chapter and development coordinator of Uplifting Athletes.
New approaches like these are championed by Amy Eisenstein, an Association of Fundraising Professionals master trainer who encourages nonprofits to cultivate their volunteers for ideas to reach new communities.
"If we spend just a little time examining other volunteers already engaged with our organization, we can probably identify a number of individuals who can be outstanding advocates for our cause," Eisenstein said in an article recently posted on the AFP website. "When you use volunteers, you leverage your time and resources so effectively because your volunteers have outreach into community networks you might never have on your own."
Mille for MS will kick off from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 19 with a cocktail party for sponsors and drivers at Sun Motor Cars Audi Porsche, 356 Woods Drive, Silver Spring Township. Tickets are included in the cost of registration, which is $200 without a sponsor or $500 with a sponsor.
From 6 to 8 p.m., the public is invited to view the cars and vote for favorites; tickets are $10.
On Oct. 20, Sun Motor Cars will host breakfast and start cars on the 100-mile road rally from 7 to 8:30 a.m.
Cars will make a pit stop at King's Gap State Park, 500 King's Gap Road, Dickinson Township, between 9 and 11 a.m.; go to Carlisle Fairgrounds, 1000 Bryn Mawr Road, Carlisle, for lunch between 12:30 and 3 p.m.; and end at Felicita Mountain Resort, 2201 Fishing Creek Valley Road, Middle Paxton Township, between 4 and 6 p.m. for the finish-line celebration.
There's still room for both participants and sponsors. The Mille will be held rain or shine.
The Uplifting Athletes event will be held Oct. 20 at Metro Bank Park, 1 Champion Way, on Harrisburg's City Island.
Tickets are $20 apiece and include all food and nonalcoholic beverages and — for adults who register online before Oct. 14 — two beers. Other tailgating festivities will include cornhole and ladders.
Events will kick off at 7 p.m. with a barbecue competition in which local restaurants including MoMo's, Blazing Swine, Shakedown and Horner's Corner face off in three categories: pulled pork, ribs and brisket. Celebrity judges will determine the winners, but samples will be available for everyone.
At 8 p.m., the Penn State/Iowa game will be shown on the big right field screen. A heated sheltered area will be available for watching the game, and in the event of inclement weather, the event will move to the covered walkway behind the grandstand.