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Five Reasons Why: San Francisco

February 29, 2020
Bracketed by wine country to its north and Los Angeles to its south, it is sometimes easy to overlook San Francisco as a travel destination in and of itself. It’s hard to say that about a city that’s in the news so often, but it’s true: while San Francisco attracted almost 26 million visitors in 2019, that was only good enough for 17th place in the country, outranked by San Diego (35 million), Los Angeles (50 million), and only barely beating out Anaheim (24.4 million).

What are those who skip to Southern California missing by not visiting San Francisco? Here are at least five reasons to head to the city by the Bay.

The Public Transit: When your donors land at San Francisco, they can still go to the car rental desk, like anywhere else. But life in the city is often best without an automobile. Instead of getting stuck in the traffic, moving at a snail’s pace, they can hop on and off buses, subway cars and, of course, streetcars. The last of those are considered such a part of the city that they show up on alternate versions of the Golden State Warriors’ jerseys.

The Views: If your donors consider a day walking through parks and taking in the scenery a day well spent, San Francisco may be a dream destination. Golden Gate Park and the nearby Golden Gate National Recreation Area give beautiful views of the water, and The Presidio has the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion, which has one of the best sightlines down the Golden Gate Bridge. And nearby Muir Woods is postcard-worthy thanks to its giant Redwood trees.

The Landmarks: The Golden Gate Bridge is iconic, of course, but what often goes unmentioned is how it’s pedestrian friendly. The mile-long connector between the city and Marin County has sidewalks, meaning that someone can get to both sides of Golden Gate National Recreation Area without a drive. And the view from the bridge, looking back at the city, is stunning as well.

The Museums: Along with elevated modern art palaces like San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the de Young Museum, the city has several great options for families. Kids can make a stop-motion video at the Children’s Creativity Museum, walk through a “twisting, turning tactile sculpture” at the Exploratorium, and see the beginnings of a children’s entertainment behemoth at the Walt Disney Family Museum.

The Cultural History: This is the city of the Summer of Love. The streets are where the car chase from the film “Bullitt,” maybe the best in movie history, was shot. The Beat poets met up here in the 1950s, writing works that would forever be associated with San Francisco (City Lights, almost 70 years old now, still stands both as a bookstore and a living monument to the Beat Generation). The city’s counter-cultural history may be unmatched.

Winter Activity Favorites

February 19, 2020
When it comes to winter vacations, the stereotypical images that come to mind might be goggled skiers, whipping their ways down mountains. Or maybe it’s a snowboarder, getting vertical off a jump or carving big tracks in the show. Our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages can certainly help your donors fit into those pictures.

But not every person who loves winter loves to go skiing. There are plenty of ways to interact with the season without strapping boards to feet and speeding down a hill. Below are a few ideas for how you can get your supporters in the seasonal spirit without lifts, bindings, and all the accoutrements of a day on the slopes.

Your donors may not get to experience that apres-ski life in New York or Las Vegas, but they can do the next best thing: Grab a drink at an igloo bar! The rooftops of New York are filling up with fake plastic igloos, domes that keep a little bit of the heat in (although 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar still provides bathrobes for some extra warmth). Your supporters can sit inside one and be merry while the snow falls all around. In Las Vegas, minus5 Ice Experience might be the only place in Sin City that requires coats; guests are provided parkas and gloves and taken to a bar where everything – the glasses, the seats, even the walls! – are made of ice.

The next Winter Olympics isn’t until 2022, which means your donors can start their roads to the Games with curling lessons. Yes, the sport that plays like shuffleboard on ice is a hit for TV audiences, but it’s even more fun to play. And any Canadian city bigger than a village likely has a curling club providing drop-in lessons. From the Royal Canadian Curling Club in Toronto to the Vancouver Curling Club (located in the facility that hosted the sport in the 2010 Winter Olympics), clubs across Canada have stones and brooms waiting for your supporters.

While the family’s innertubes may be packed away for the season, the summer favorite gets a snowy makeover in the mountains with snow tubing. It’s a favorite reason for a winter day-trip from Los Angeles; the nearby town of Big Bear Lake features several places to slide down the hill like you would ride down the river. It can be the perfect way for your donors to get their kids interested in the snowy outdoors, a sort of “bridge” activity to skiing or snowboarding.

For everything else – snowmobiling, sledding, winter wildlife tours, even dog sledding – there’s Jackson Hole. The Wyoming resort town is a winter wonderland, and while skiing and snowboarding are well represented at the nearby Grand Targhee Ski Resort, your donors do not have to enjoy either to step out into the crisp air.

Imagine a Better Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2020
It starts with the gift giving. Then it’s the dinner reservations and the flowers. Pick out the right outfit for the evening. Sit elbow to elbow with other couples in an overcrowded dining room. Swear to never do it again. Until next February 14th, of course.

It’s easy to fall into a routine for Valentine’s Day. Part of that is because it works: everyone likes gifts, flowers are pretty, and having a reason to go out for a good meal is wonderful. But the path of least resistance is rarely the most satisfying.

If you’ve got supporters who would love a romantic adventure – for Valentine’s Day or for any other special time – we can take them beyond the stereotypical and send them on a trip worthy of love.

For instance, falling in love helps release chemicals from the adrenal gland, according to CNN. One of them is adrenaline. That’s not to say that, racing in a plane across the Arizona sky or speeding around a NASCAR track is the same as a first kiss, but science tells us that each activity “turns on” similar receptors in the brain. Does that mean that the couple that skis together stays together? Maybe. But certainly those kind of heart-racing events can make love feel new again.

The Happiest Place on Earth is best known as a family destination, but there are thousands of couples who attend each year without little ones in tow. Heading to Disneyland without kids in tow means doing things like lingering a little longer over a slice of layered chocolate cake at Blue Bayou, or cocktails like the Nectar in the Rye and the Six Tentacles at the Lamplight Lounge. It also means enjoying the fireworks at the end of the day without little ones ready to fall asleep.

Finally, remember those first days of love? How it felt like you could do anything? It’s a feeling that can be hard to replicate – but at an all-inclusive resort, you actually *can* do anything, all without caring about cost. With food, drink, and even excursions all paid for, your donors can feel free – meaning that they can focus on just their loved ones, and try to get back those early feelings of freedom, too.

Dream Concerts Make Dream Trips!

February 06, 2020
We believe that some of the best travel packages for fundraising auctions combine a Destination of Excellence and a “reason” to go: Tickets for a big sporting event, for instance, or a behind-the-scenes tour of a museum, or ski lift passes. It’s why we have so many event- or activity-centric trips in our catalog.

One of those that allows for maximum customization is our “Any Concert – The Live Music Experiment” travel package. With it, you can choose a show anywhere in the contiguous United States and send your donors there, airfare and hotel included. If you’ve got some music fanatics in your donor base, it’s a great way of connecting your cause to their favorite music – and music certainly helps create emotional bonds.

For 2020, there are a few tours in particular that seem travelworthy:

Classic rock fans who haven’t gotten to see Elton John on his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” going-away tour will have a chance to see him during the spring. For those whose tastes run a little wilder, KISS is on the road, performing with original Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth. And one big name is rumored to be announcing tour dates soon; Bruce Springsteen has talked about potential shows with the E Street Band. Can you imagine sending your donors to New Jersey to see the Boss on his home turf?

These packages make wonderful gifts, as well. If you’ve got donors looking for an experience to give to, say, a student graduating from high school, or as a “sweet 16” adventure, some of the biggest pop acts in the world will be on tour in 2020. Harry Styles, the standout from the British boy band One Direction, takes his Brit-pop tunes out to arenas across the country this year, while Justin Bieber returns for an international tour. Superstar Taylor Swift, meanwhile, is throwing a couple of major festivals this year; her “Lover East” and “Lover West” shows in Boston and Los Angeles, respectively, are expected to feature star-studded lineups, but it means there’ll only be four chances (two in each city) to see her in America this year.

Finally, kids of the 1990s are now at the age where they can be major donors, and two big tours this year are targeting those late Gen Xers/early Millennials specifically. Alanis Morissette is celebrating the 25th anniversary of her star-making album, “Jagged Little Pill.” She’s bringing with her two other acts from the ‘90s alternative scene, Garbage and Liz Phair. For the pop-punk survivors, Green Day embarks on its “Hell Mega” run alongside Weezer and ‘00s inheritors of the throne Fall Out Boy.