Old Seattle money meets new media

Mar 8, 2010, 2:44 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who holds the grandest galas of them all? For many years, the answer to that was PONCHO – known for its lavish auctions, with local women wearing dresses that would rival last night’s Oscar gowns.

PONCHO – short for Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural and Charitable Organizations – is the oldest charitable fundraising group in the region. They were the first in the area to hold an auction-fundraiser.

Auctions are common today for non-profit organizations and schools, but they weren’t in 1963. PONCHO began out of a need to help the Seattle Symphony with a $30,000 debt after their World’s Fair production of Aida.

LornaKneeland2“A group of community leaders met in someone’s living room one night and decided to throw a party and auction off some of their things to raise money for the Seattle Symphony,” says Lorna Kneeland, the new executive director of PONCHO. “Instead of raising $30,000 they raised $85,000 and realized this is something they should continue for the arts.”

The extra money was used to establish the Seattle Opera.

A party the next year had more items for auction. Years later, PONCHO started the type of auction we’re familiar with today, introducing the “raise the paddle” kind of bidding.

But the recession has hit everyone, including arts organizations. A year ago, PONCHO suspended the annual gala. Kneeland says they were “asking supporters for too much money through too many events.” Now they focus on two events – a spring wine auction and a fall auction of artwork.

Kat Morris admiring art

PONCHO Art Auction Committee Member, Kat Morris admiring art at the 2009 PONCHO International Fine Art Auction

“A lot of people in the community who once had the capacity to give, may not have that ability anymore, even though the need to support the arts in Seattle is greater,” Kneeland says.

While old Seattle money has traditionally taken care of the arts in Seattle, Kneeland acknowledges the organization needs to reach more people. A tool they’re using to reach people is social media. PONCHO is active on both Twitter and Facebook. Kneeland is using it in a relatable way, with the goal of helping people realize the organization is accessible to everyone.

LQ group“Before I got involved with the organization, I always admired it from afar. I was born and raised in Seattle, so it’s something I’ve always known about but never thought I could belong,” she says. Now she’s running the operation.

The PONCHO wine auction is set for May 22nd. In the past they’ve raised a million dollars from this single event. The art auction will be in October.

PONCHO gave $700,000 to various arts organizations in the last funding cycle. Since PONCHO started, 46 years ago, it has raised more than $34 million for the arts.

PONCHO was a beneficiary of the Neiman Marcus Gala. Pictured (left to right) are Board Member Stacy Lill, Gina Murray, Exec Director Lorna Kneeland and Georgia Taylor

The News Chick Blog

The wife of Seattle attorney Danford Grant moved his car away from one of the alleged crime scenes ...
No Author

Equal justice for Seattle lawyer accused of several rapes?

Has accused serial rapist Danford Grant gotten preferential treatment because both he and his wife are Seattle attorneys?
10 years ago
The Seattle-based I Can Has Cheezburger network now includes 60 humor sites. Many of their 90 emplo...
No Author

Seattle humor network, built with funny cat pictures, becomes a reality TV show

A small Internet empire with a funny name has billions of page views on its network of 60 humor websites based in Seattle. Now, I Can Has Cheezburger has a reality TV show too.
10 years ago
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent a combined $30.33 every second this election cycle. Wa...
No Author

Democracy and dollar signs – 2012 campaign spending

Washington initiative campaigns spent $34 million trying to win your vote, while President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent a combined $30.33 every second this election cycle.
10 years ago
Chef Tom Douglas says Seattle’s restaurants are ‘a little homemade’ compared with...
No Author

Chef Tom Douglas says ‘Seattle is a funny restaurant town’

Chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas, with 13 Seattle restaurants and more on the way, says Seattle is a "funny restaurant town."
10 years ago
Investigation continues into why a commander of the Bremerton-based Stennis carrier group was remov...
No Author

New ‘crazy’ conspiracy theory on Stennis Rear Admiral

The Pentagon shoots down theories about why the commander of the USS Stennis Carrier Group was removed from duty and sent back to the homeport in Bremerton.
10 years ago
Seattle photographer Paul Souders captures an adult polar bear up close in Hudson Bay in Churchill,...
No Author

Seattle photographer comes face to face with a polar bear

A wildlife photographer, who lives in Ballard, has taken thousands of stunning shots. None put him on "a razor's edge" more than a series of photos swimming with a polar bear.
10 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Old Seattle money meets new media