A sea of white faces has dominated Seattle Chinese Garden’s fundraising events over the last two decades.
“Where is the Chinese community?” several have asked. “Why don’t the Chinese support the garden?”
Here at last! Here at last! After 24 years, the first fundraising event for the Seattle Chinese Garden Society (SCGS) was organized by Chinese Americans for the Chinatown community and was held at the House of Hong Restaurant last Saturday.
More than 300 people attended, and more than $45,000 net was raised. Not bad at all, considering the event was put together in less than a month over a couple of dim sum lunches.
All it took was the magic of one person, Chinese Consul-General Gao Zhan Sheng of San Francisco. The SCGS invited the consul-general to visit the garden in January. He saw the site and liked it.
“This would be a meaningful legacy for the Chinese community,” he said. “Do something,” he told some key members of the Chinese community.
“We are in,” the leaders said.
Gao’s involvement instantly gave credibility to the garden.
In the past, Chinatown leaders did not embrace the garden because its location was outside Chinatown. But the building of the Chinatown Gate two years ago generated organizational skills and fundraising experience that motivated the normally passive Chinese community.
Gao assigned Ron Chow, an entrepreneur, as the pusher. Faye Hong, one of the most trustworthy Chinese leaders, endorsed the project. Everything just snowballed.
Suddenly, people were curious about the garden.
“Is this the Seattle Chinese Post’s garden, since it’s called the SCG?” a leader asked us.
We laughed so hard about this — mistaken association by name!
Gao donated two art items for an auction. The community members added more.
Meanwhile, SCGS’s program is an easy sell. For $150, individuals can name a brick. On the night of the dinner, more than 100 bricks were sold.
For a successful fundraising event, you need committed big donors at $5,000 each. In this case, SCGS got three: Jerry Lee, Yale Wong, and Benjamin Lee. Jerry is the community good guy, He and his wife Charlene are generous to many causes unconditionally, and he often gets his friends to support. He brought Yale on board. And Jerry and Charlene have given numerous times to SCG over the last decade.
Now you see how the Chinese community works. A successful event requires leadership, as seen in unsung heroes like Tony Au and Steve Locke who wanted no credit but worked their butts off. Finally, an affordable program for people to give to is what it takes. ♦