Organizing a fundraising event for the Gastric Cancer Foundation can be as simple as canvassing your friends and family for support. That has certainly been the case for members of the Silverston family in New York City. They have raised thousands of dollars by organizing three happy hours in memory of Jan Silverston, who lost his battle with the disease at age 55 in August 2009.
Jan was a jeweler in the diamond district of Manhattan, and he and his wife, Cindy, lived in Long Island. “They were like the mayors of their town,” Jason says. His father was also an avid golfer, he says. “My dad had a lot of friends.” So it made sense, Jason says, to bring everyone together in a social setting.
Cindy, Jason, and his sister, Ashley recruited several family friends to organize the first event shortly after Jan’s passing. The first step—finding a venue to host it—turned out to be fairly straightforward, Jason says, because a family friend knew the owner of Traffic, a bar on the east side of Manhattan, close to where Jason and Ashley were living at the time. The first benefit raised over $7,000.
The Silverstons collected donations for GCF in several ways during each benefit. They took a small cover charge from each attendee at the door, Jason says, and the bar donated a portion of its proceeds for the evening to the foundation.
The Silverstons also held raffles at the benefits, using prizes donated by local New York businesses. The prizes, which included dinners at local restaurants, “all came from personal connections,” says Jason, a physician who recently completed his fellowship in New York.
The family was able to attract about 200 people to each benefit with very little marketing. “We used Facebook and e-mails,” Jason says. “There was no other advertising needed.” In fact, it was so easy to get people excited about the event, he says, “I thought we could make it into an even bigger thing.”
The most recent Jan Silverston Benefit, held in August 2011, raised nearly $5,000 for the foundation. Jason says the family is not yet ready to discuss details of the next event.
Jason says what he has learned from his dad’s benefit event can be boiled down into one tip for anyone who is considering organizing a fundraising event: “Use your personal connections.”