Too good to be true!
Premier nonprofit auctioneer, Karen Sorbo, sold the experience to a ClearCause director willing to invest $8,000 on the experience for our cause – Safe Global Youth Travel.
The ‘no-risk’ tickets were made available by WinspireMe, a subsidiary of Winspire. WinspireMe has been around for awhile, offering many risk-free auction items like golf excursions, sporting events, wine tours and tickets to the Grammy’s. According to Jeff Weber, Executive Vice President at WinspireMe, they have helped thousands of nonprofits raise more than $17,000,000.
So when CCF Executive Director, Sheryl Hill, spoke with a WinspireMe agent in California she was informed that if the tickets did not sell, ClearCause would not incur costs. She agreed to offer Grammy tickets on consignment at $6,000. ClearCause received a $2,000 donation, the donor received an opportunity of a lifetime. Everyone was happy.
Until the Grammy’s . . .
ClearCause generous bid winners showed up dressed to the hilt for the experience of a lifetime, their tickets in hand. They were pulled aside among the elite and told they could not get in. All the anticipation, excitement and preparation halted in preventable embarrassment. A little less than half of WinspireMe’s Grammy ‘winners’ did not get what they paid for.
To WinspireMe’s credit they were quick to respond with sincere apologies, “We are so sorry.” “We are sick to our stomachs about this.” ”This has never happened to us before.” ”We’ll make this right.” They have agreed to refund money and offered the consolation of a spa day to ClearCause bid winners.
Apparently, an attorney who serves on the Grammy’s board supplied the tickets to WinspireMe. The Grammy’s obviously knew that they weren’t going to let ‘some’ WinspireMe ticket holders in. The Grammy’s could have alerted WinspireMe to that fact to avoid embarrassment of philanthropic ticket holders at the door. They didn’t.
ClearCause was asked if they would use WinspireMe again in the future. We will. The greatest test of an organizations character is how they respond when things go bad. WinspireMe – thus far, has taken the fiasco and offered remunerations to nonprofit supporters. We don’t have a pulse on what WinspireMe will offer nonprofits whose donors did not get what they paid for.
WinspireMe was wounded by Grammy Award deliberate actions. Generous donors will be more hesitant to bid on auction items like these. Sadly, this hurts nonprofits.
Maury Glover, reporter with FOX 9 News, was Master of Ceremonies for ClearCause Foundation’s inaugural event in 2012. Chagrined that the Grammy’s would turn away generous philanthropic people, he reported the story on February 11, Minnesota Philanthropists Turned Away at Grammy Awards.