Fundraising events in a post-COVID-19 world.

Unique charity event raises money for children’s museum.

Betty Brinn Children’s Museum is a mainstay in the Milwaukee community. Located downtown, the museum is the only place for hands-on play and interactive learning for kids 10 and younger. Our own chairman, Greg Nickerson, also serves as the chairman of the board for the museum. One of his first tasks as the newly minted chairman? The museum’s annual fundraiser.

Formerly a black-tie event, Betty Brinn’s annual fundraiser, like most in-person events this year, needed to be adapted to a post-COVID-19 world. A cross-functional team at Bader Rutter was presented with a unique opportunity: How do you create excitement around one of the first fundraising events to hit calendars in 2021?

“We just want to have fun”

The BR team was tasked with developing a theme for the fundraiser. In listening to the Betty Brinn team’s initial ideas, a common phrase rose to the top again and again: “We just want to have fun!”

While the previous fundraisers had been held in winter as a gala event, the team knew that people would be more comfortable outside, which also provided flexibility if new mandates were issued or COVID-19 cases increased. To meet the challenge of rebranding the museum’s signature event and helping people enjoy what may be one of their first nights out in a while, the BR team thought back to one of the most fun things about childhood and spending the summer outdoors: camp!

Meet Camp Brinn

Our team developed a summer-camp theme for the event, which centered around the following manifesto:

Over the past year, the meaning of togetherness has drastically changed. We traded in hugs and high-fives for Zoom calls and long-distance waves. We gave up hands-on learning for socially distanced simulations. What was tangible, became digital.

But a brighter tomorrow is on the horizon for us and the kids of Milwaukee. We’re turning our quarantine crew into summer campers.

Built upon the spirit of enjoying the great outdoors, the event theme was an ode to the adventures and fun spent in our adolescent years at summer camp. We created posters, invitation copy and design elements – like a classic camping mug – that took on a laid-back, outdoorsy vibe, complete with hand-lettering and the classic elements of nostalgic summer camps. Betty Brinn’s on-site event team also took this theme and ran with it, pulling the design into large signage for the entrance, food stations and bars, fundraising activities and other events.

The event, which was held in August, raised more than $200,000 for the museum and its new initiatives to connect the kids of Milwaukee to new and improved services.

About the Author

As chairman, Greg Nickerson splits his time between business development, financial oversight and serving on several non-profit boards representing Bader Rutter.  During his three decades at the agency, he has seen it more than triple in size and diversify its client base into many different industries. Greg counts among his accomplishments orchestrating an employee buy-out of the company from its founder in 2008 as well as leading the effort to locate and build a new headquarters in downtown Milwaukee.

Greg has long taken an active role in the Milwaukee community, from industry and trade groups to philanthropic community service. A long-time board member of the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, he was recently elected President of their Board of Directors. Much to his chagrin, he has not been called down to the floor to help his beloved Milwaukee Bucks.