While weighing ideas for a major Santa Monica-Malibu schools fundraiser, officials glanced about 12 miles down the coast and saw something worth emulating.
The Manhattan Beach Education Foundation holds an annual wine auction that has been around for more than 20 years. Its roughly 2,000 guests raised more than $1.1 million last year alone.
That was the inspiration for the newly devised Santa Monica-Malibu Wine Auction, which is scheduled for Sunday, April 17, at the Fairmont Miramar hotel. Tickets went on sale last week.
The Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation doesn’t expect to see Manhattan Beach levels of fundraising at its inaugural wine auction. It is anticipating about 400 guests, including parents, area business owners and members of the community.
“Since it’s a first-year event, we’re hoping to have a successful event and grow it from there,” said Ann Conkle, SMMEF’s communications and events manager.
The local education foundation has held auctions of its own in the past, including an arts auction, but Conkle said it’s been several years since it organized an event like the one coming next month.
The wine auction comes in the home stretch of the SMMEF fundraising cycle, which wraps up June 30. The foundation has raised $2,657,436 since July 1, which is about 71 percent of its goal of $3.73 million. The latter figure includes a budget of roughly $615,000 for operating expenses.
SMMEF, whose recently implemented centralized fundraising system has sparked debate among stakeholders, is responsible for generating $2.5 million to support elementary arts education, instructional assistants and enrichment grants for STEM and other programming.
In its previous cycle, which ended June 30, the education foundation raised about $2.36 million, well short of its then-goal of $4 million. That 2014-15 campaign lasted 17 months to align the annual fundraiser with the school district’s calendar.
In recent months, SMMEF has worked to inform parents about its role in supporting local schools. The organization amassed more than $569,000 in gifts and pledges in the first two months of the current cycle, which executive director Linda Greenberg said was a 20-percent increase over last year’s total during that span.
Featuring a variety of wine and food tastings, the upcoming event will be accompanied by live and silent auctions as well as an online auction that will run April 6-18.
“We are thrilled to be launching this exciting event,” Greenberg said in a press release. “It will be a wonderful opportunity for our community to come together to enjoy the best in food and wine, while raising funds for programs in every school in Santa Monica and Malibu.”
Many of the foundation’s events are family-friendly, if not kid-oriented. The previous fundraising cycle included the Pier Party and supplementary online auction at Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier, which generated $125,000, as well as a concert at Barnum Hall and a raffle for an electronic bicycle. SMMEF was also the designated charity of last year’s Santa Monica Classic, which features 5- and 10-kilometer races.
“We do lots of different types of events,” Conkle said. “To have one that is adult-oriented is fine out of the many events that we do.”
To purchase tickets for the wine auction, visit smmwineauction.org. For more information, go to the website or contact Conkle at email@example.com or (310) 396-4557.