How Fundraising at HHC Has Adapted During the Pandemic

Geri Cicchetti

Thursday Oct 29th, 2020

2020 has certainly been a unique year.  From a fundraising perspective, it was anything but business as usual.   This year has presented many challenges for ECHS to support its $1Million operation budget.

Since December 2019, the Hagen History Center had been planning a fundraising gala to be held in May 2020.  This event was going to be the grand opening of the new exhibit building and the 8 new exhibit galleries.  Because of the pandemic, we were unable to host any events so the gala was cancelled.

HHC then decided to have a virtual grand opening in July.  That, too, had to be cancelled because the construction of the exhibits wasn’t completed.   The exhibit contractors were from Atlanta, and you’ll remember Georgia residents were not permitted to come to Pennsylvania without a 2-week quarantine upon arrival.  As this would be cost-prohibitive, the exhibit construction was delayed.

Other changes also had to be made.  The Women Creating a Legacy event was planned for September.  Instead of hosting a live event, HHC deemed the entire month of September Women Creating a Legacy Month and asked women to donate, even though the normal cocktail party would not be held.  This virtual event raised $13,250, and we are most grateful.

Erie Gives was another bright spot in which HHC raised $25,841 (nearly double what was raised in 2019) in this financially tough year of 2020.  The Erie Community is so very generous.

With the federal CARES Act, many new grant opportunities became available.   HHC received $7,000 from a Pennsylvania Humanities Council Cares Act Grant, and we will receive an Erie County Cares Act Grant.  Ten other grants have been submitted to multiple funding sources, and we are awaiting decisions.   These grants are very competitive to receive.

Gannett hosted a national fundraising program in September/October.  HHC was accepted into this program, and HHC raised $3,775 from 21 donors.  An additional $4,250 has been pledged from 4 board members.   These donors were either staff or board members. This was a quiet campaign as HHC had just sought donations from the public for the Gala, Erie Gives, Women Creating a Legacy, and HHC is planning another appeal on November for the Annual Fund.  

While all the above efforts are great, there is still a big need for HHC to raise the additional funds to meet the $1M operational budget.

Since the pandemic started, there has been almost no revenue from visitations or gift shop sales.  Membership renewals have slowed.  Several weddings and other rentals were cancelled.  These are all regular sources of revenue for HHC.  In addition, because of the delay in the construction of the new exhibits, anticipated revenues from admissions to see the new exhibits were also lost.

During this pandemic, many of our regular individual and corporate donors have re-directed their philanthropic giving to social service agencies.  They were particularly interested in giving to Food Banks because of the great need with food insecurities due to high unemployment. 

For these reasons, your donation is needed now more than ever.

In early November, HHC will mail out our annual appeal. 

HHC is one of six community assets who partner with Erie Arts and Culture.  EA&C hosts an annual fund drive known as the United Arts Fund.  The United Arts Fund has secured a pledge of $125,000 if the UAF can raise over $500,000 in total from the 6 community assets. As the HHC is one of the assets, please help us secure our share of the matching funds.

A common misperception regarding HHC is that one or two donors support the operational budget of HHC.  While a few donors have generously given to the capital budget (building and exhibit construction), HHC must fundraise to meet its $1M operational budget.  Your help would be greatly appreciated. 

Some of the items your donation will support includes funding student field trips, maintaining the campus, and/or helping to promote Erie’s heritage for current and future generations.  

Should you have any questions, please contact Advancement Director Geri Cicchetti at 814-454-1813 x 34 or at

Thank you.