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South Side New Year's Eve Fundraiser Takes The Party Online: 'The Reach Is Limitless'

CHICAGO (CBS) --  The new year means finding a new way to fundraise for many nonprofits.

Many of those money-making celebrations are going online. CBS 2's Steven Graves explains why the new approach might stick around beyond the pandemic.

Logistically, it's just easier and cheaper. In some cases, translating into thousands of dollars more in donations for these groups.

At the Harold Washington Cultural Center, New Year's Eve is normally huge. The end of year fundraiser is one of the biggest, in hopes of fueling young artistic talent on Chicago's South Side. And COVID-19 was not stopping the show by the Chicago Blues All-Stars and the Broadway in Bronzeville group that will now be online.

"The way we're going be engaging is in a chat group. They'll be some live feeds and livestreams. And there's some one-on-one interpersonal information," said Jimalita Tillman, Global Director of the Harold Washington Cultural Center.

This year, there's no $100 ticket. Just a rich experience to inspire a donation people can afford. Does the organization expect to get more or less through the virtual experience?

"I do expect to get more grassroots giving. (Virtual) is direct to consumer," Tillman said. "The reach is limitless. It's global."

For that reason, some Chicago nonprofits are finding virtual to be a viable way to raise equal, if not more money, than past years. Reaching donors in different countries, celebrities making guest appearances and no overhead costs for grand events.

"Almost all of the people that I talk to in the nonprofit world all said they are going to have at least one virtual component to their events moving forward," said "Candid" Candace Jordan of Chicago Star Media. "Because they've been so profitable and they've been relatively easy to put on."

Many organizations have adapted to the new normal. Virtual field trips as well as acting and dancing classes make the cultural center poised for a smooth upcoming production.

Chicago's South Side is reaching a new and possibly global audience, with a goal of keeping this going beyond a pandemic. That celebration starts at 9:00 Friday night.

It'll be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube. And the Harold Washington Cultural Center will be taking donations.

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