WEST OLIVE — Major structural changes to Harbor Humane’s annual fundraising event made necessary by COVID-19 paid off big for the nonprofit last week.
The organization held its sixth annual Ales for Tails event entirely online.
“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Development Director Jen Nuernberg. “It typically brings in about $40,000. It’s a big event with live music, beer, wine and cider from local venues and food. It’s a huge silent auction with tables and tables full of items, and there’s usually close to 400 people in attendance.”
Because of the ongoing pandemic, Harbor Humane had planned to host an outdoor event at The Shops at Westshore instead of its typical indoor event at Yacht Basin Marina in Park Township.
“Then we discovered the outdoor max capacity was still only 100 people,” Nuernberg said.
“We just knew we couldn’t host that large of an event for so few people. And in general, we want to keep our community safe and respect the guidelines in place. So, we decided to go virtual.”
The organization had only a few weeks to shift the event online.
“We had a weeklong fundraiser under the Ales for Tails name,” Nuernberg said. “We kicked off Monday with an online auction. That was a huge success. We raised close to $12,000 from that alone.
“We also sold raffle tickets at the shelter and our resale shop. We ended up selling them online the last day. We had an incredible response. There was so much support from the community. It was all hands on deck and everyone stepped up.”
By the time Ales for Tales ended, a new record of more than $45,000 had been set.
“That money will be used throughout the year,” Nuernberg said. “We assign needs as they come. It covers everything from daily operations like paying the heat bill or caring for the animals by providing food or medication.”
According to Nuernberg, the shelter had about 4,000 animals walk through its doors in 2019.
Harbor Humane Society, 14345 Bagley St., was founded in 1956 as Ottawa Shores Humane Society. The nonprofit takes in more than 3,500 animals each year, with nearly 60 percent of those being strays.
Ales for Tails 2021 is scheduled for July 22, and will likely take place outdoors.
— Contact reporter Cassandra Lybrink at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @CassLybrink.