by Paula M. Riley

It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. Chestnut Hill area nonprofits are realizing that this applies to fundraising and event promotion as well.

“In this economic climate, we need to rely on one another more,” said Laurene Topping, board member of Chestnut Hill Meals on Wheels (CHMOW). She is working with Nicole Martz, chair of CHMOW’s major fundraiser, the Meals on Wheels Tailgate Party, to do just that.

Chestnut Hill Meals on Wheels board members and tailgate committee volunteer Nancy Ryan (left) and tailgate event chairperson Nicole Martz at the Flourtown Country Club reviewing the silent auction donation list.

This casual (jeans welcome) event on Thursday, April 26, at Flourtown Country Club will be an enjoyable evening of games, food, music and drink. Adults will be encouraged to try games such as the Wine Toss (think “ring the bottle”), the Bag-O tournament and a Hole in One competition. A silent auction will feature sporting event tickets, vacation getaways, restaurant gift certificates, jewelry and vouchers to Philadelphia museums and attractions. Food, drink, a live acoustic guitar player and DJ will create an exciting and festive atmosphere.

Planning the party certainly required a lot of work, but the real work comes after – promoting the event and encouraging guests to register in advance. Topping and her team looked to the relationships CHMOW has established with area nonprofits to get the word out.

The Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment (CHCE) has spread the word of the Tailgate Party to its members through signage at the center, newsletter announcements and personal invitations. Marilyn Paucker, board member of CHCE, sits on the Tailgate Party planning committee.

Last fall, when CHCE was hosting its primary fundraiser, CHCE Design Show House, a group of CHMOW board members volunteered at the house as hostesses. Paucker appreciated this support but is most proud of the CHMOW/CHCE collaboration on the Fourth Tuesday of the Month Lunches.

“These have been a huge success for us,” Paucker said.

CHMOW and Keystone House provide the lunches, guests pay $6, and CHCE Board members set up, serve and clean up.

The lunch gatherings help CHCE fulfill its mission of bringing adults together, Keystone House (which cooks all CHMOW meals) makes a nominal profit and CHMOW can share its message with the 50 or more participants each month. Paucker cited other local organizations with which she has such mutually beneficial relationships. She explained that the Design House fostered many of these.

“In planning the Design House, I spoke to Bill Valerio (executive director, Woodmere Art Museum) about other upcoming events,” she said. “Without a skipping a beat, he said, ‘Come on up, let’s talk – you can have your event here.’”

Meeting space seems to be a common barter between nonprofit organizations. Joanna Naylor of Mt. Airy Learning Tree (MALT) gives a full-page advertisement in the MALT catalog to the Lutheran Theological Society, which offers room rental at no charge for MALT classes.

“Everything we do at MALT is about pure collaboration with other nonprofits,” Naylor said. “This is at our core – to raise all the boats, not just the Learning Tree, but the teachers, the class locations and the organizations we partner with.”

In planning the MALT fundraiser, the Hidden Gardens Tour on May 19, Naylor’s team reached out to CHCE, Center on the Hill, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Christ Lutheran Church and Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting to encourage them to invite members and include the event in newsletters and other communications. Proceeds from this event benefit the Make This Our Home Fund to build handicapped accessible access to the MALT headquarters in Mt. Airy.

Each fundraiser sponsored by an area nonprofit has such notable recipients. CHMOW’s leaders passionately believe their mission to feed and provide companionship to their clients illustrates the village concept perfectly.

“The people we are serving are the ones that were serving us years ago,” Topping explained. “We are responsible for taking care of each other,”

The same could be said for supporting each other’s nonprofits.

Having so many worthy causes could create a competitive landscape among area nonprofits but leaders at these organizations have found the key.

“What makes this area so great,” according to Nancy Ryan, CHMOW board member, “is that the nonprofits around here get it – they realize that we will all be stronger if we work together.”

Paucker agrees.

“We are all in the same boat, looking for members, donors, attendees,” she said. “We have to get creative in our approaches, and collaboration is one of these creative and successful solutions.”

For more info on the CHMOW Tailgate Party visit www.chestnuthillmow.com. To RSVP for the Hidden Gardens Tour visit www.mtairylearningtree.org and to learn about CHCE, go to hwww.chenrichment.org