By Ilana DeBare
Golden Gate Audubon Society held its first Online Bird Art Auction last month—and it was a smashing success. The auction generated sales of just over $20,000, about half of which went to the 22 participating artists. Generous fans of birds and art bought 176 items, ranging from notecards to paintings. Some buyers even made additional donations—above the cost of their item—to support Golden Gate Audubon.
The auction idea had its genesis this spring, when Covid-19 shelter-in-place rules forced Golden Gate Audubon to cancel all the in-person events associated with Birdathon, which is usually our main fundraiser of the year.
Former board member Alan Harper suggested an art auction with shared revenues as a way to support both GGAS and local artists, whose income from sales, shows, and teaching has been slashed by the pandemic. Current board member Alex Smolyanskya had already been setting up a Birdathon auction web site for more traditional prizes, such as vacations and catered dinners. She pivoted on a dime and shifted the site into an online art gallery.
Then volunteers Daryl Goldman, Marjorie Powell, and I set about identifying bird artists and inviting them to take part. They were delighted by the idea!
Organizing the auction was a wonderful experience.
At a time when the pandemic seemed to bring life to a halt, here was an opportunity to create something new and beautiful that would help both Audubon and artists. The works were colorful, varied, and exciting. The artists were responsive and enthusiastic. Our group of volunteers worked smoothly and super-efficiently.
And we grossed $20,000, well over our initial goal of $10,000! We cannot thank you all enough for your participation.
Those funds won’t make up for the cancellation of Birdathon, which typically brings in about $60,000 in donations. But it’s a start, and a step forward at a time when many other non-profit organizations are standing still or slipping backwards financially.
An added bonus: The auction brought GGAS to the attention of new audiences. It was written up not just in Bay Area media like the San Francisco Chronicle, Berkeleyside, and Bay Nature magazine, but also in Birdwatching Daily, a national web site.
So what’s next?
The auction volunteers had so much fun that we want to do something like this again… and are tentatively planning an online Holiday Bird Art & Craft Sale this coming winter. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks!
Do you know of artists or craftspeople who produce unique, beautiful bird-related items, and who might be excited to partner with us? Would you like to help organize a winter holiday sale? If you’ve got ideas, email me at email@example.com.
Meanwhile… many thanks to the auction volunteers, the artists who shared their work, and all of you who bought some of it and who participated in any way you could! I hope this artwork livens up your walls and your spirits as we all continue to spend more time at home than we’d like.
Ilana DeBare is a GGAS member and active volunteer. She is also GGAS’s former Communications Manager and has devoted much of her time and effort to helping Golden Gate Audubon any way she can.