Humane Society fundraiser brings in $500,000

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

Updated: October 25, 2011, 6:44 PM

 

Clark County’s largest shelter for homeless and abused animals raised half a million bones during its annual dinner and auction Saturday.

The Humane Society for Southwest Washington’s largest fundraiser of the year attracted more than 700 people and netted the nonprofit $500,000 in one evening.

“The dinner and auction was not only a huge success in terms of fundraising, it was also a shining moment for the Southwest Washington community and beyond,” Executive Director Chuck Tourtillott said in a news release. “They opened their hearts with compassion and dedication on behalf of the animals in our community that are in desperate need of our help.”

The Humane Society relies on donations to cover a majority of its expenses. Adoption fees and contracts with local partners, such as Clark County Animal Control, pay for about 18 percent of the shelter’s operating costs, said Erin Griffin, spokeswoman for the nonprofit.

“We don’t receive any regular funding from any outside organizations,” she said, noting that the shelter is not directly affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States.

The money raised Saturday will help pay for animal care, shelter operations and community outreach and educational programs in Southwest Washington, Griffin said.

The event nearly met organizers’ fundraising goal of $550,000. Last year’s event raised nearly $1.2 million, including a $400,000 match from local business owners. People were especially generous last year as they helped the shelter pay off the debt on its new building in east Vancouver, Griffin said.

This year’s event, held at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, included dinner, a 23-item live auction and several silent auctions with more than 300 items.

“It was huge,” Griffin said of the silent auctions. “We took up all main-floor ballrooms at the Hilton.”

Some of the live auction items included a trip to Spain, an exclusive dinner for 50 people at Roots, a trip to San Francisco for the U.S. Open golf tournament, yacht cruises on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, a trip to Aruba and a handcrafted bar and hutch stocked with liquor.

Money was also raised from raffle ticket sales, admission ticket and table sales, sponsorships, cash donations and games. Speciality drinks like the meow-garita and bark-tini were sold with a portion of the proceeds going to the shelter.

More than 40 sponsors, both individuals and businesses, contributed more than $100,000 to underwrite the event that was put on by a team of 150 volunteers and staff.

This was the seventh year of the dinner and auction event.