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Creative fundraising, part two

May 28, 2010

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    Actor and Mercy Corps supporter Billy Baldwin with his wife, singer Chynna Phillips. Photo: Google Images

The dust from Haiti's mega-quake had barely settled when I got a call from actor Billy Baldwin* as I drove to the Seattle Mercy Corps office.

"Dan, I want to give toward Mercy Corps' Haiti emergency response but, as you may know, I'm between jobs right now. Here's my idea: Vanity Fair is holding tickets to the very hottest post-Oscar Awards parties. I'm going to call my contact there and suggest that Vanity Fair could do a lot of good for Haiti right now by auctioning off some tickets and sending the funds to Mercy Corps." Billy directed them to the Mercy Corps web site saying, "Look at the good that is being done!" His powers of persuasion worked. The tickets went up for auction and brought in $24,847 for Mercy Corps' Haiti relief program.

One creative thought!

I was blown away. Billy had done it again. Back in 2008 — just after China's catastrophic quake — he called me proposing to sell exclusive tickets to the premiere of the first "Sex in the City" film. Sure enough, a check showed up in the mail for $20,349 to help hurting children and families when help was needed most.

Here's the back story and I'm thankful to Billy for letting me tell it. (He is a quiet humanitarian who shuns accolades for his generosity. But I talked him into going public because I told him about my Mercy Corps blogs on creative fundraising. I told him others will be inspired to think about how they can also make a positive difference in the world.)

Following a TV news story in the mid-90s about our work in the war-ravaged Balkans, Billy called me about a meeting to learn more about Mercy Corps. We had lunch in a New York diner and enthusiastically discussed our shared passions for human rights, humanitarian aid and global issues. We determined to stay in touch. Not long after, Billy sent a generous check for our Kosovo war victims aid program. In 2001, he contributed to our response to Central America's devastating earthquake. Billy is now a member of the Mercy Corps Board of Ambassadors and continues to be a friend of disadvantaged people around the world.

In a call last night (about this blog) he sounded breathless. "Man, I'm driving kids all around, helping with homework, rushing to baseball practice ..." His wife, singer Chynna Phillips, is in Los Angeles recording her next album and Billy is on duty at home in Santa Barbara.

"Enjoy your time being 'Mr. Mom," I answered. "It goes by too fast! And thanks for all you do for so many so much of the time."

*Billy Baldwin is an actor, producer and writer known for his starring roles in films such as Flatliners, Backdraft, Sliver, Fair Game, Virus, Double Bang, Art Heist and in ABC TV's Dirty Sexy Money. He is married to singer Chynna Phillips and is the proud dad of Jamison, Vance Alexander and Brooke.