Last updated on November 6th, 2020 at 01:49 pm
Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee’s Dia de los Muertos-themed virtual gala on Nov. 30 netted more than $305,000.
The annual HPGM gala – which typically draws hundreds of people for in-person auctions, dinner and dancing – was originally scheduled for May, but was later postponed and converted into a virtual format.
Funds raised through the event support emergency funding for DACA and undocumented students, the HPGM scholarship fund to provide financial support for tuition and to cover books and technology expenses, and other HPGM programs.
HPGM executive director Kim Schultz said the event drew over 300 viewers.
“There were a lot of unknowns because we’ve never done a virtual gala before, and hopefully we won’t have to again, but it was fun and we’ve gotten great feedback,” she said.
HPGM worked with Majic Productions to produce the Dia de los Muertos-themed event, which included performances by N’Semble Latino and Dance Academy of Mexico that were prerecorded at Stand Eat Drink’s The Carriage House in Walker’s Point.
“Ours is known, frankly, as the best party gala in town,” Schultz said. “So we wanted to do whatever we could to keep some element of the fun dance piece.”
With the virtual format, HPGM changed its sponsorship levels, offered tickets for free to students and gave options for smaller donations.
“We wanted to make sure anyone who wanted to was able to attend,” Schultz said. “With the shift from our normal event – which is usually $350 a ticket – there were much lower expenses, but we knew it was important to keep people engaged.”
The organization’s 2019 gala netted about $354,000.
HPGM has scheduled its 2021 gala for October, in hopes of hosting an in-person event by next year.
“We really felt like the virtual event was great and it was as successful as it can be, but it’s not the same,” she said. “Part of our organization is about bringing people together and we’re hoping, a year from now, we can actually do that again.”
At a time of increased demand for philanthropic dollars to support various causes, Schultz said it was important for HPGM to communicate with its supporters about where their dollars were going.
“Our gala is our major fundraiser that supports all our programs and organization,” Schultz said. “We wanted to make sure that any additional funds would be focused on supporting our students, expanding our scholarship fund and adding emergency funds for things outside of tuition and supporting our programs.”
HPGM’s scholarship program supports Milwaukee high school graduates who go on to attend a partner higher education institution, including Marquette University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Alverno College.