Uncorked Fundraiser

DCF Executive Director Theresa Hearn (far right) gives out a grant check to Derby Senior Services – one of several entities the community enrichment grant program (funded through the Uncorked fundraiser) has benefitted over the years.

A new year brings a new look for the Derby Community Foundation’s Uncorked fundraiser – which is set to go virtual in 2021.

While DCF Executive Director Theresa Hearn expects the new format may limit the funds generated through Uncorked, that is not the sole purpose of the fundraiser.

“Uncorked isn’t only a fundraiser. It is also an awareness event,” Hearn said. “Although of course raising those dollars is important in terms of the community enrichment grant program, it’s also maybe even more important that we have this awareness event every year so that we can spread the mission and the message of the community foundation into the community every year with a big event that attracts attention.”

Generally speaking, Hearn noted roughly one-third of the people who attend Uncorked annually are individuals the community foundation has never contacted before.

Spreading the awareness in turn builds the donor base for the community foundation – because while Uncorked may be the organization’s only fundraising event, it is not the sole source of funds.

Hearn noted the DCF typically brings in $220,000 in a given year – with $30,000 of that coming from Uncorked. The primary sources of funding are private individual donations, interest on invested funds (endowed, memorial, etc.) and even some from grants.

Typically, individual donations and grant funds are directed to specific entities – like grant money received tied to COVID-19. Those funds allowed the community foundation to give out 10 additional grants in 2020 for COVID response and recovery, with Hearn noting there is still grant money available, too.

A fundraising event, according to Hearn, is actually fairly unusual for a community foundation. Operating on a one-to-one basis, individual donations generally help build permanent endowed funds to meet the community needs.

Being relatively young still, Hearn said the DCF endowed funds are not to the size yet where they can fully sustain the foundation’s grant program. That led to the introduction of Uncorked as a way to directly fund community grants.

“We started the fundraising event back in ’05 in order to start having a grant program, in order to start awarding community enrichment grants into the community,” Hearn said. “It funds the community enrichment grant program and that is the only source of funding for that particular effort. The $10,000 in grants we award each year through that grant program, that’s where those dollars come from is Uncorked.”

Most community foundations have a general grant program, according to Hearn, which is the purpose of the community enrichment grant program through the DCF. Those grants are open to any 501c3 or nonprofit in Derby – with two rounds of applications per year and 15 to 20 grants given out from that program on a regular basis.

Uncorked having a new fundraising format in 2021 – selling $30 raffle tickets (300 in total) for an online drawing – Hearn is uncertain how that will impact the community enrichment grant program tied to it.

Early indications show there is interest to support Uncorked, and Hearn also takes giving trends of the past year as a positive sign.

“There’s been more online giving than we’ve experienced in the past. We’ve received a lot of checks. Checks are the norm when it comes to the foundation and how we receive giving,” Hearn said. “Especially in 2020, we’ve seen an increase in online giving and we’ve also seen, for the first time, we have people giving monthly gifts through our website credited to a credit card.”

Derby Community Foundation’s community enrichment program helps make a difference in the community for a number of organizations – so Hearn is hopeful that online support keeps coming leading up to the fundraising event on Feb. 27. For more information on how to purchase raffle tickets, visit derbycf.org.