Nonprofit agency Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange GRACE held its 20th annual Gala on Nov. 4 at the Irving Convention Center, said Mark Woolverton, chief development officer.

The Gala is the organization’s single largest fundraising event each year, Woolverton said. Planning begins in February and March and continues until the fall, requiring nearly a year of planning to put together. This year was a record-breaking event, with the event selling out the earliest it has in the organization’s history, he said.

The details

Funds are raised through sponsorships as well as silent auction campaigns. This year's auction prizes included a trip to Mayakoba, Mexico; Moxie scooters; and a stay in the Hotel Vin Autograph Collection presidential suite with a package that featured dinner, drinking and dancing, Woolverton said.

In order to bring more emotion to the event, GRACE selected individuals and groups who were recipients of its relief services and played videos of them telling their stories and how the organization impacted their lives, he said.

“This year we worked with some of our clients in our housing program, in our hunger program and also in our medical program,” he said. “[They were] representative of the tens of thousands of clients that come to us each year.”

This allows donors to see exactly where their money is going and the effect it has on community members, Woolverton said.
The impact

The Gala is situated at the start of GRACE's fiscal year and, as its largest fundraising event, sets the tone for the organization as it proceeds in its relief efforts, Woolverton said. Combined revenue from its next two largest events, a poker tournament and bingo, which occur early in the year still doesn’t match proceeds from the Gala.

Revenue from this year’s Gala will be prioritized toward GRACE's housing and hunger services, which continue to expand in the face of growing need, he said. The housing services includes a two-year transitional housing program that provides accommodations for families that are imminently homeless. The hunger services includes the food pantry program, which is designed as a grocery store that gives GRACE's clients access to food for their families.

“The more successful we are at fundraising with the Gala, the better off we are and the more people we can serve throughout the year,” Woolverton said.
Editor’s note: The original post has been edited to include additional information.