The Rockville Centre Education Foundation turned business into pleasure with a charity trivia event called Big Night In last Saturday night. More than 130 players formed 22 teams to compete for trivia glory and, more important, to donate money that will go to students, teachers and staff in the school district.
The virtual fundraiser replaced the foundation’s annual black-tie ballroom gala and its dining, dancing and speeches, which typically draws hundreds. Organizers, including Jean Harris, spent long nights on Zoom planning the event, to ensure that the foundation accomplished its goal of enhancing the quality of public education with its financial assistance.
“Every week there was something new that we either hadn’t thought about or had to revise,” Harris said. She credited Organizing Committee member Eric Mignorance with meeting the technological challenges of Big Night In.
Local company Green Raffle provided an online platform for raffle gift baskets, which ranged from Father’s Day items like slippers and golf outing vouchers to jewelry and massage vouchers for moms. Trivia Hub, the company that hosts the virtual trivia nights throughout the country also partnered with Harris and company.
“Very often these local organizations (like the RVC Education Foundation) rely on the local population,” director of client services, Shannon Whalen, said, “but with a virtual event, you can invite your cousin who lives across the country and spend time with them and also benefit a good cause.”
“The challenging part was to come up with something that people would have felt safe and comfortable with,” Organizing Committee member Terry Fasolino said, adding that she hoped that between the trivia night, raffles and contributing restaurants’ donations, the foundation would be able to match the in-person gala.
The 90-minute program ran smoothly, with a Trivia Hub host introducing 10 questions in each of the three rounds before sending team members into private rooms to coordinate their answers. The program’s virtual nature expanded the population of donors. Harris reported that players from more than 12 states competed, and as of Sunday, the foundation had received more than $15,000 in donations. The “soft” goal was about $10,000, she said, adding that she was “delighted” by the success of the event.
For over 30 years, the foundation has awarded grants to students, teachers and school district staff to expand its curriculum and resources. Past grants have helped introduce SmartBoards, 3-D printers, robotics materials and more.
Proposals from faculty and administrators have already been sent in, and are being reviewed by the foundation’s Grant Committee. Grants could be awarded as soon as next month.
Harris said she would not rule out the possibility of staging the virtual event again next year, to complement what she hopes will be the return of the gala.