Women Helping Women tops $86,000 in contributions

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GREENFIELD — The holidays are looking brighter at the James T. Anderson M.D. Center for Women’s Health.

More than $86,700 was raised for the center at the 22nd annual Women Helping Women event in October, which was forced to go virtual this year due to COVID-19.

“We were shocked that a virtual fundraiser could raise nearly as much money as our traditional fundraiser does,” said Allyson Smith, manager of the Hancock Health Foundation, which organizes the Women Helping Women event each fall.

Foundation director Nancy Davis was also amazed at the results.

“Every year I am in awe of how this community comes together to support the (center), but I was certainly not expecting to raise over $86,000 with a virtual fundraiser this year,” she said.

“No silent auction basket, no live auction vacation, no nice dinner, visiting with friends or live speakers — this year our community gave out of the goodness of their hearts, getting nothing in return, except knowing they are helping to keep the (clinic) doors open to the women who need it,” Davis said.

The center, located at Hancock Regional Hospital, provides health-care services for hundreds of women each year who would otherwise be unable to afford it.

Women Helping Women organizers feared that fewer funds would be raised for those services in a virtual format this year, compared to the typical fundraiser that features a catered dinner and both silent and live auctions.

Yet the amount raised was less than $7,000 shy of the $95,420 raised last year, and well over the $76,786 raised just three years ago.

Donations peaked at $127,327 in 2018, the 20th anniversary for the event.

“I think it’s important to note that much of our proceeds come from people purchasing tickets to the dinner and live and silent auction items, so they’re getting something in exchange for their gift. This year, 100% of the money we raised were donations given with nothing in exchange, which is pretty remarkable,” Smith said.

She said the virtual format kept expenses under $2,000, which boosted the bottom line, and also increased the overall donor base, bringing in 69 new donors this year.

“Sharing our stories virtually allowed us to reach many more people, including individuals who don’t live nearby and could never attend the event in person,” Smith said.

To create the virtual fundraiser, supporters were asked to become “pink warriors,” promoting the event online and raising money through their personal contacts.

Twenty-six people answered the call, each using a shared online platform to create their own Women Helping Women Fundraiser page. Through that they shared the campaign’s history, services and patient testimonials with their friends, family and other contacts.

“Overall it was very successful, and we’re so grateful to everyone who supported Women Helping Women this year,” Smith said. “We look forward to all being together for next year’s Women Helping Women celebration.”