Online shopping: Annual fundraising auction turns virtual to raise money for Foundation, scholarships

Hayley Hobbs
Special to the Gazette
Butler Alumnus Tom Mittlestadt, Executive Director of Community Advancement Mary Moon, and Vocal Music Instructor Dr. Henry Waters work in the campus television studio to livestream the 24th annual Butler Benefit Auction.

 Like so many nonprofits over the last year, the Butler Community College Foundation adapted to the virtual landscape. The 24th annual Butler Benefit Auction was held completely online for the first time ever.

“Safety was our first priority,” said Mary Moon, executive director of community advancement. “We recognized the importance of holding the event to raise money to impact our students.”

A livestream event, consisting of pre-recorded and live elements, was filmed on-location in the tv studio housed on Butler’s El Dorado campus. Dr. Henry Waters, vocal music instructor, hosted the event. Auctioneer Jeremy Sundgren, Sundgren Realty, highlighted live and silent auction items. The video streamed on Butler’s YouTube channel and has been viewed more than 250 times. TV Producer and Station Manager Director Matt Jacobs, Mass Communications Professor Dr. Keith West, alumnus Tom Mittlestadt, and several students helped bring the production to life.

“Showcasing our students to donors is what makes the Butler Benefit Auction so special,” said Moon. “Students are the reason our donors come together for this event every year and it was important to us to incorporate students in this virtual event.”

Students Lloyd Johnston, Mara Stewart, and Tar Tut gave short testimonials about how scholarship dollars have impacted their educational journeys. Livestock Judging students, who usually sell raffle tickets at the event, pre-recorded a message urging donors to buy their tickets virtually. After the fundraising, guests were treated to a performance by Butler’s nationally-acclaimed show choir, the Headliners, directed by Vocal Music Professor Valerie Mack.

Total funds raised topped out at $111,000. Donors could bid using their mobile phones on silent and live auctions, the golden ticket drawing, and make gifts of Pure Philanthropy. The highest-selling item of the night was a live auction item trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park. The trip sold three times for a total of $8,150.

Top sponsors for the event are:  HollyFrontier, Bank of America, Premier Food Service, BG Products, Commerce Bank, Gravity::Works Architecture, IMA, L.J. Lechtenberg Strategic Financial Partners, Professional Engineering Consultants, and Simpson Construction Services.