March 18 2013 12:00 AM

The Big Bang-quet is an online competition among charities

Wednesday, March 14 —
Selling kisses for charity is nothing new. But selling votes? Hmmm…

The Big Bang-quet was first conceived late last year, when the University Club asked its members to nominate their favorite charities for inclusion in a large fundraising drive. Twenty-six charities were nominated, including the Red Cross, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Capital Area Humane Society, Child and Family Charities, Ronald McDonald House, the Salvation Army and many others.

“The most important thing is that it’s a wide variety of charities,” that “ranges from the arts, to domestic violence, to social services,” says Karen Grannemann, the coordinator of the Big Bang-quet Community Charity Challenge, which was put together by the University Club, in partnership with MSU Federal Credit Union and the Capital Region Community Foundation. “The variety turned out to be absolutely incredible. We couldn’t have picked a better, diverse array of organizations.”

Anyone who wants to participate can “vote” for whichever charity they want, as many times as they want. Each vote is worth $5. The charity that gets the most votes will get a $10,000 credit toward holding a fundraising event at the University Club.

All the donations go to the Capital Region Community Foundation as tax-deductible contributions to their endowment, and then the foundation in turn writes checks to the participating charities in the amounts that each charity wins from the contest. All the charities will receive the money donated in their name, but only the charity with the most votes will receive the grand prize. The foundation only keeps a small portion of the total donation amount as part of their endowment and to cover their expenses.

MSUFCU is helping to sponsor the event alongside the University Club, with each organization pledging $5,000 apiece towards the $10,000 grand prize.

The University Club coordinated with each organization’s Web presence, including Facebook pages, as well as helping to print out informational posters and flyers to spread the word to as many interested individuals as possible.

The success of the fundraising so far has been a source of pride for Grannemann.

“If we can get the support from our partners to agree to do it again, I would very much like to see it be an annual event,” she says.

Votes can be cast online at The Club With A Heart website, with no limit to the number of votes that can be cast, or the number different organizations one can cast votes for. Online voting will close at 5 p.m. Friday, but there is one last chance to donate a “vote” to your favorite charity at the reception itself, which will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 20, at MSU’s University Club.