On Oct. 25th, over 750 Wisconsinites gathered at the Saris Headquarters with a unified goal: raising money to support the Wisconsin Bike Fed. The Saris Gala has become the #1 single-night bike advocacy fundraiser in the country. With a sold out crowd bidding on extensive live and silent auctions, we raised over $109,000 in three short hours – the most the event has ever raised.
What are the ingredients to becoming the #1 successful bike advocacy fundraiser?
First, a group of very special people including volunteers, special guests and a professional auctioneer that assists us with their time, energy and commitment. Secondly, high levels of organization are required to coordinate registration, checkout, sound systems and auctions. We also organize up to $65,000 worth of auction items. And then we fill the space with awesome food, fun decorations and overflowing beverages. These are the key ingredients along with (and MOST IMPORTANTLY) a crowd of Wisconsinites that aims for Wisconsin to be the best place to ride a bike in the country.
We started the Gala in 2004 to help sustain the work of the Wisconsin Bike Fed. That first year we raised $25,000. In our minds that was a huge success, but we were not satisfied. The event grew, the crowd became more enthused and we continued each year to celebrate the bicycle. The Saris Gala gained iconic status in Madison, not only as an awesome fundraiser but as an awaited annual gathering of bicycle enthusiasts throughout the State.
The reality of a fundraiser like this is that it takes months of planning and preparation. The project started at the beginning of the year with the brainstorming of a special guest, a theme and our financial goals (always aiming higher than the previous year). The time and energy is a commitment, but what the gala actually became is a celebration of our community’s passion for cycling and a gathering of like-minded folks that love their city and their bicycles.
Thank you Wisconsin bike lovers…It’s been 10 successful years!
Learn more about the Saris Gala at sarisgala.org
- Heather Fortune, Saris Advocacy Director