Farmington Hills-based Judson Center, a provider of autism and foster care and other services, has been a beneficiary of the preview for over 20 years. It raised $405,000 through the 2019 event toward its $27 million budget that year.
“That money helped to cover costs across the board in every program that we have … programs that don’t generate money to cover their costs,” President and CEO Lenora Hardy-Foster said.
“The amount is one thing. But the loss of unrestricted funding is crucial.”
With the loss of the funding last year, the nonprofit held off on filling several open staff positions, cut the number of letters it sends to donors to reduce publishing costs and cut costs in other areas, she said.
Judson would love to continue as a beneficiary of a preview event for another two decades, Hardy-Foster said, and will always be grateful to DADA and the team behind the auto show.
“However, based on the past two years, we have to become creative in thinking of new opportunities to generate unrestricted income,” she said.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan raised $490,000 from the last charity preview two years, or about 10 percent of its $5 million budget.
“One of the most important things charity preview provided was unrestricted dollars. … the other thing it (did) is connect us to the automotive industry — not just for the resources but for the mentors it provides,” said CEO Shawn Wilson.
Last year, with virtual fundraising, its return to Pontiac and the launch of its Fashion Industry Club in Detroit, the nonprofit was able to make up for the charity preview loss, Wilson said. Fifty-seven percent of the nonprofit’s donors last year were new.
“But you don’t know how many will come back,” as the club looks to make up a gap again this year, he said.
The nonprofit budgeted more conservatively this year, anticipating it could make $200,000 from the preview. But Wilson isn’t sure if BGCSM, which is operating on a $6.5 million budget for 2021, will be able to raise as much through a charity fundraiser at Motor Bella. There are many variables, Wilson said, including the nature of the enthusiast event planned and the unknown status of COVID-19 vaccination by the fall.
“I’m not sure it’ll ever fully come back in its current form, but I hope our partners are committed to finding a new and innovative way to impact youth across southeastern Michigan,” he said.
“Ultimately, at this point we will need to pull any projections out of our budget (and) hope for the best but develop a strategy to overcome the gap.”