Free Clinic gets creative with funny ‘non-event’

(Posted Feb. 5, 2015)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

What do you call a fundraiser to which no one shows up? A success, according to the Madison County Health Partners Free Clinic.

For the second year in a row, the non-profit is inviting people NOT to come to a Valentine’s dinner and dance fund-raiser. There’s no dinner, no valet parking, no cocktails, no live or silent auctions, and no entertainment. Flat out, there’s no event.

The fun and creativity of the non-event is all in the invitation, which invites recipients to make donations for the privilege of staying home in comfortable clothes and going to bed when they want to.

The idea came out of a brainstorming session two years ago among clinic organizers and volunteers. Rather than add another fundraising event to the community’s calendar, they came up with the non-event concept.

“We wanted something unique that might appeal to folks in a humorous way,” said Melissa Canney, executive director. “A lot of people enjoy going to events, but a lot of people enjoy not having to.”

The idea was a hit in its first year last year, bringing in over $5,000.

“We saw people donating who never donated in the past. For whatever reason, they liked it,” Canney said.

Back again this year, the fundraiser invitation includes an “RSVP” card where for a $25 donation, a person declares, “I will not attend this function.” For $100, a person declares, “I had so much fun not attending last year, I will see to it that no one in my family attends this year.” Similar funny responses align with other “levels of participation.”

“Just in the first week after sending this year’s invitation, we brought in $1,200, and we have a lot of new donors again,” Canney said.

Proceeds from the fun fundraiser go to a serious cause. The clinic, now in its 10th year in operation, provides basic health care to the uninsured population of Madison County. Volunteer medical professionals provide the care. The clinic relies totally on grants and donations for its operating expenses.

Even with recent changes in healthcare laws and Medicaid expansion, many Madison County residents are still without insurance, Canney said. That’s where the clinic can help.

To make a donation, send checks to “MCHP Free Clinic” at P.O. Box 651, London, OH 43140. For more information about the fundraiser or the clinic’s services, call (740) 845-7286.

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