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February 2020
January 2020

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Taking the Family on the Road

November 27, 2019
Tomorrow, families across America (related by blood or by choice) will settle in for Thanksgiving dinner, enjoying both a copious amount of food and the company of their loved ones. And while the coziness of home can be tough to beat, there’s a good argument to be made that a week of travel with the entire family is as good for the soul as staying put. While there will be 31 million people in airports this week, less than four million will be heading abroad, according to Travel + Leisure.

That means that Thanksgiving week is a good time, for instance, to head to Italy. Our “A Transcendent Taste of Tuscany” package includes a super-sized villa that can host up to ten people. And while the winter in the Tuscany region is known for getting chilly, the average lows tend to stick around 40 degrees – perfect weather for bundling, but not for freezing. And if the outside is too cold, the entire extended family can stay in and enjoy a warm meal prepared in-villa by a master chef.

Want a destination a little warmer? Try Costa Rica! The Central American country features highs in the mid-80s and lows in the low-70s during late November, making it great weather for exploring. And with an eight-person villa through our “Revel in the Wonders of the Rich Coast” package, the entire family can go on a hike, ride bikes together, and even explore volcanos. (For those less adventurous, there’s also relaxing at the beach, or enjoying a meal in the villa, cooked up by a private chef.)

We also love St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands, as a full family getaway. If the idea of playing touch football during a snowstorm doesn’t motivate the donors, how about having a catch with the kids (or grandkids) on the white sand beaches of the largest of the Virgin Islands? The eight-person, four-bedroom villa has its own pool, for casual relaxation, and is near several unique experiences, like the Soggy Dollar (where guests have to actually swim to the restaurant – there’s no dock for this island bar) and the reef that nearly surrounds the uninhabited Sandy Split Island.

Finally, if distance is no obstacle during the holiday week, there’s an adventure down under waiting. November is in the build-up to southern hemisphere summer, and in Queenstown, New Zealand that means temps in the mid-60s during the day – perfect for a stroll around neighboring Lake Wakatipu, a tour of a local winery (the region is becoming known for its Pinot Noir), or a round of golf. Back at the three-bedroom villa, there’s a private tennis court and a private lake jetty to enjoy.

Five Reasons Why: Chicago

November 20, 2019
New York was the most popular travel destination in the United States in 2018, according to the Huffington Post and TripAdvisor. Beaches (Maui at #2, Oahu at #4), gambling (Las Vegas at #3) and Mickey Mouse (Orlando at #5) came next. But sixth on that list was a city without any of those built-in advantages: Chicago, the City of the Big Shoulders, the Windy City.

There’s so much to do here that culling the list to just five entries feels like underselling the city. But we’ve narrowed it down so that you can use these as talking points to sell your donors on big bids for a trip to see all Chicago has to offer.

The Sports: Some of the country’s most iconic sports franchises represent the Windy City, and those teams play in some of the best-known arenas and stadiums, as well. Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, has also become a regular venue for major soccer matches, while the United Center was home to one of the best basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan. But the jewel in the city’s crown is Wrigley Field, the 105-year old mecca to baseball and home to the Chicago Cubs. It’s a bucket list destination for fans who love sports’ histories.

The Shopping: The Magnificent Mile, a stretch of Michigan Avenue that is home to massive stores and numerous places to shop, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s (our “Chicago’s Shopping or Sensational Entertainment!” package includes the option of a gift card to one of those three retailers). Designer stores like Armani and Burberry sit alongside popular brands like Nike and Apple – and there’s still room for quirky outlets like Tails in the City, a “luxury pet boutique” for dogs and cats. If you can buy it, you can probably buy it on the Magnificent Mile.

The Lake: Lake Michigan, the only of the Great Lakes to be entirely on the United States’ side of the border, is a defining figure of the city’s geography. It’s what provides the otherwise-landlocked Chicago its beaches, the scenery for the wonderful drive along Lake Shore Drive, and the Navy Pier, an entertainment complex along the water. In fact, one could have an exciting, itinerary-filling vacation in the city without ever being more than a couple of blocks from Lake Michigan!

The Blues: Muddy Waters. Howlin’ Wolf. Buddy Guy. Chicago is one of the most important blues cities in the country, and the sound has influenced musicians around the world (The Rolling Stones started thanks to a shared love of artists like Waters, for instance). Music-loving donors can check out some of America’s most-beloved blues venues, take one of many tours that lead visitors to the genre’s historical roots, or dig into the stacks at one of the city’s great record stores.

….and Pizza!
Chicago deep dish pizza is one of the best-known iterations of the Italian dish in the world. But the city has plenty of pizzaiolos making pies from around the world, too. Our “Leave a Pizza Your Heart in Chicago” travel package includes an Original Pizza Tour, which will allow your supporters to get a wide sampling of what Chicago has to offer aficionados. No matter an auction winner’s favorite varietal of pizza, they’ll find a great version of it here.

End-of-Year Donation Drive? Let Us Help!

November 13, 2019
According to Charity Navigator, a staggering 31 percent of the money donated to non-profits online in 2017 came in the month of December, and 12 percent came in the final three days of the year. Your charity’s end-of-year fundraising could be an important part of next year’s budget. And we can help with that.

Our non-profit fundraising travel packages are perfect for the holiday season and can make both great gifts and enticing warm-weather getaways for your donors. Incorporating them into your final fundraising plans for the year can help supercharge giving during this critical time.

Our trips are likely best known as lots in fundraising auctions, and at the end of the year, their power becomes even more evident. Take an audience in the holiday spirit, add the chance to fulfill a lifelong travel dream, and top it with a partial tax deduction, and the recipe is there for big, big bids. To raise even more money, reach out to some of your big donors in advance and see where they’re thinking about traveling in 2020. Matching the trip you offer with the biggest desires of your supporters means guaranteeing that there’s plenty of action at the gala auction!

Anyone who has received scratch lottery tickets as a gift knows that fun games of chance can make excellent stocking stuffers. But it doesn’t have to be gas station scratchers, either; by holding your own raffle, you can encourage your donors who might be on the lookout for last-minute gifts to give more to your charity. The chance to win a sum of money is great, of course, but the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a dream destination? The chance to meet the stars of a favorite musical, or seats at a big sporting event? Those may be even more fun to think about.

(Please note: Check local and state ordinances on raffles to determine legality.)

No matter which way you use a Mitch-Stuart travel package during the holiday season to turbo boost your fundraising, the time to act is now! Reach out to a Travel Expert today to get started.

The Holidays, Deconstructed

November 08, 2019
The fake cobwebs have been packed away, the candy has been eaten (and the following sugar rushes have crashed), and the pumpkins have been thrown out or smashed. It is now time for the cold-weather holidays, those associated with the end of the year.

But while many might associate Christmas with snow and Thanksgiving with cuddling up on a couch under several blankets for that tryptophan-induced nap, there are other elements to each holiday that combine to create the whole experience. And as your donors are preparing for their own gatherings, you can offer them travel packages at your non-profit fundraising auction or raffle that will highlight their favorite parts of the upcoming celebrations.

For some, time off at the holidays is the first chance in weeks to decompress. Whether it’s younger people with school finals or end-of-year rushes for professionals, November and December can feel like too little time for too much work. For them, a trip available at auction with a strong spa component might get their attention. So many of the accommodations in our Destinations of Excellence® catalog have on-site spas, but trips like “The Essence and Spirit of Aloha” and “Ultimate Desert Oasis” include gift cards as well. If the goal of taking time off around the holidays is to relax, there are few better places to do so than on a masseuse’s table.

For others, the chance to relax means the chance to watch some sports. The NFL has a monopoly on Thanksgiving, for instance, with three games, while the NBA’s Christmas Day slate has become appointment television for many. And New Year’s Day has long been the traditional date for some of the best of college football’s bowl games. With one of our sports packages, your donors and fanatics can go from the couch to the game, with tickets available for any regular season NFL or NBA game, or admission to any bowl game.