Rainbow Village Witnesses Outpouring from Community During First Ever Virtual Benefit Gala

Staff Report

Friday, November 20th, 2020

Each year for the last 22 years, Rainbow Village has played host to its much-anticipated We Are Family Benefit Gala – marking the nonprofit’s largest annual fundraiser. Easily earning the title of the event of the season, guests arrive at The Atlanta Athletic Club dressed in gowns and tuxedos to not only learn about the important work Rainbow Village is doing to help homeless families in need, but also to learn what they can do to help. At the end of last year’s Benefit Gala, the Duluth-based nonprofit had touched the hearts of its 300+ guests and raised an unprecedented $337,893 to support operation and maintenance of Rainbow Village’s campus that houses a community center, family services center and apartments to house 30 families, as well as the life-changing programming it offers that allow families to confidently embark on the journey to self-sufficiency and thrive beyond their time at the “Village.” In the face of COVID-19, Rainbow Village made the difficult decision to take this beloved event virtual. It livestreamed on Saturday, November 7, and by the end of the evening, the nonprofit had raised $220,000 – well above its goal.

“Because we weren’t hosting the Gala at our favorite ballroom at the Atlanta Athletic Club, we didn’t charge admission – which usually helps cover the cost of the venue but also goes towards our fundraising goal,” said Melanie Conner, CEO of Rainbow Village. “For that reason, our goal was a bit more conservative than in years past. Not to mention the fact that our livestream was running up against some contentious college football games and we weren’t certain how much our donor base had been affected by the pandemic from a health and financial standpoint. There were a lot of uncertainties going into the event, but uncertainty is what our residents have faced for much of their lives – they’ve lived and breathed it – but kept the faith. That faith… that HOPE… is what brought them to our door. So, we chose to keep the faith, too, and host the best virtual Gala event we could possibly design. It was different, for sure. We didn’t get to see the faces of those who gave so selflessly and watched our livestream from beginning to end. We could definitely feel the love by the time all was said and done, and we are so incredibly grateful for the amazing show of support.” 

In addition to direct donations, the bulk of the funds raised were from sponsorships, purchases from the wine wall and mobile bidding that allowed guests to participate in the silent and live auctions. During the livestream event, virtual attendees were treated to banter from Conner and auctioneer Dean Crownover, a heartfelt testimonial from a former Rainbow Village resident and a “behind-the-scenes” virtual tour of the Rainbow Village campus. For anyone unable to attend the Gala who still wants to show their support for the nonprofit and the families it serves, Rainbow Village has launched its year-end campaign to meet all operational costs for 2020. Included among these costs are the maintenance of its facilities and the unforeseen expenses of Digital Learning support for the children of Rainbow Village, such as the purchase of new technology and the hiring of full-time instructional coaches.

Sponsors of this year’s event, dubbed the 2020 Rainbow Village We Are Always Family Benefit Gala, included: Northside Hospital-Gwinnett, Metro Waterproofing Inc., Wilson-Lewis CPAs, Porter Steel, Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church, Rock Paper Scissors Branding & Marketing, Quantum National Bank, Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia, Peachtree Corners Business Association, SRD Photography, CIBO & VINO, Jeremy Whigham Design, The Lorentzen Family, The Bass Family, The Fletcher Family, The Morgan Family, The Kress Family and Leslie Harrison. 

Donations to Rainbow Village can be made securely online at www.RainbowVillage.org.