2020 U.S. Venture Open pivots to new format

Posted on Jun 18, 2020 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive
Posted by of Insight Publications

The U.S. Venture Open charity event will take on a different look for its 35th year this summer, but the goal remains the same: raising millions of dollars to fight poverty in Northeast Wisconsin.

Last year’s event featuring outings at several golf courses in the region and dinner raised $4.3 million and a gift of $925,000 from the David A. Thiede estate, totaling a record-breaking $5.2 million in a one-day event.

Due to the coronavirus and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations on social distancing, this year’s event will include an online fundraiser, an online auction and a regional media-thon fundraiser in partnership with WBAY-TV and Woodward Radio Group leading up to Aug. 12 — a day of celebration and final fundraising. With the new format, the U.S. Venture Open will be better able to educate, activate and inform donors about how the funds being raised help the most vulnerable in local communities.

“We remain committed to our mission of ending poverty because now more than ever, our community needs our help navigating a pandemic world,” said U.S. Venture CEO John Schmidt.  “This event is more than a golf game, it’s a strategic and collaborative approach to helping people in our communities move out of crisis.”

Donors can contribute to the event by going online here or text USVO to 76278, an online auction, which will run July 29 through Aug. 12 and the media-thon. Additional information will be released as the event gets closer.

U.S. Venture underwrites all expenses associated with the U.S. Venture Open, so every dollar raised goes to help area nonprofits. “Since the 2020 outing is pivoting, U.S. Venture made the decision to invest $800,000 as a matching donation to the dollars used for grantmaking,” said Greg Vandenberg, director of giving and community engagement for U.S. Venture.

Matching grants from regional partners are key to sustaining the work of the Basic Needs Giving Partnership. The J. J. Keller Foundation will match $800,000, along with other lead grant partners including Oshkosh Corp. at $250,000, ThedaCare at $200,000, and the Thrivent Foundation at $200,000.

With U.S. Venture’s added $800,000 donation, the grant matching will increase to $2.25 million, effectively matching every dollar donated through the U.S. Venture Open in 2020.

“We all miss the celebration and fellowship of group events, but our collective resources are absolutely critical right now,” Vandenberg said. “Rising unemployment, the economic downturn and other effects of the pandemic are hitting at-risk populations the hardest.”

The hundreds of nonprofits supported by the U.S. Venture Open and the Basic Needs Giving Partnership are all reporting increased demand for their services and many are seeing a decrease in revenue. For example, Feeding America saw a 125 percent increase in the demand for charitable food in the first weeks of the pandemic and is now sustaining a 67 percent increase, said Feeding America CEO Patti Habeck. “We anticipate distributing over 20 million more pounds of food than the previous year,” she said.