5-Minute Interview: Howard Baskin, chairman, Big Cat rescue
FS: Can you describe a recent successful fundraising effort?
HB: Here are a couple:
* Memorial Area. Previously, our “cemetery” was a hodgepodge of a few nice memorial stones donated over the years combined with many of the signs that used to hang on the cages with the names of the cats. A little over a year ago I found a fellow who gave us a good deal on very rich-looking marble plaques with images of the cats engraved on them. We built a short wall to set them on and offered donors the opportunity to memorialize the cats and have their name on the plaques for $250. As of yesterday, all 72 had been donated, raising $18,000 over that time. (www.bigcatrescue.org/foreverremembered.htm).
* Ink Recycle Program. This is not “recent” in that it started a few years ago, but it is ongoing. We found a vendor who would send postage-paid bags to our donors with which they could recycle empty inkjet cartridges, toner cartridges and cell phones. By actively promoting this to visitors and in our newsletter, we have become this vendor’s largest source of cartridges. The program has generated more than $45,000 to date.
* Fur Ball. We started doing a gala in 2003. We have gone from 300 attendees at $50 each to 700 at $150 each, with net amount rising from $17,000 the first year to $119,000 in 2007.
A key element of the ball is the “safari costume formal” attire. Guests can come in purely formal outfits or, at the other extreme, in cat or safari costume, or in the middle in formal attire with cat accessories. Just seeing what people wear has made the event fun.
In addition, we make a point to have it not be a night of boring speeches. The presentation time is very limited, and most of the night is a true party with numerous activities in addition to the traditional dancing. There is tribal drumming they can join in, a casino table, a confection contest, a costume contest and more. (www.bigcatrescue.org/FurBall.htm).