Nonprofit fundraisers aim high with plane pulls

People pull a Boeing 747 at a fundraiser for a New York nonprofit.

People pull a Boeing 747 at a fundraiser for a New York nonprofit. UWDOR/EC Media Group

A hedge fund manager made some serious money off the New York Historical Society. Financier Michael Offen bought a five-story townhouse at 15 West 76th Street in 1997 from the historical society, which bought the property back on June 27 for $16.5 million. The original price that Offen paid for the property is not known, but he sold the property to hedge funder David Berkowitz about two years later for $5.5 million, according to The Real Deal

The historical society operates a museum next door to the property and now has a $12.5 million mortgage granted by Berkowitz and his wife Nancy. 

“Public records indicate that when the historical society previously owned the townhouse, mortgages were traded between wealthy families and corporations,” writes The Real Deal, “(It) appears to be a form of support for the nonprofit organization.” Whether or not the nonprofit inked a similar deal this time around is not known. 

[[{"fid":"7690","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"style":"float: left;","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]]There is a new member of the board at Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project. Michael Leahy is a senior vice president and deputy general counsel at American International Group. “His wealth of knowledge and expertise within the legal and nonprofit sectors will be instrumental in strengthening the VLP’s impact and strategic organizational development,” said Stephen Z. Williamson, a member of the board.


The Music Conservatory of Westchester raised more than $335,500 at a June 24 event. Proceeds will benefit ongoing music therapy programming in the surrounding community, particularly among children, adults with disabilities and military veterans. More than 300 people turned out for the event, which included performances by Broadway stars Jennifer Damiano (“Next to Normal”) and Kate Baldwin (“Finian's Rainbow”). 


Wild Apricot has ideas on how nonprofits can engage their members. Low event attendance, ignored email blasts and sluggish recruitment can be overcome, according to a recent blog post – but nonprofits first have to recognize the individual needs across five different groups of people. Read more here.


United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region raised nearly $50,000 by pulling a Boeing 757 jet on June 29. About 200 people were on hand to watch different teams yank the quarter-million-pound aircraft 12 feet down the tarmac at New York Stewart International Airport. The fastest team managed to cover the distance in 8.626 seconds. More than 700 people made donations to individual participants, who were each tasked with securing $200. 

Jeannie Montano, president of the nonprofit, was inspired to try this aviation-themed fundraiser after watching a video on YouTube, according to a spokeswoman. Plane pulls have increased in popularity over the last two decades, with charities now raising about $1 million through such fundraisers, according to a press release.

“Pulling a plane is something people think they can’t do,” Susan Dean of McKesson Metro New York said in the press release. “It’s symbolism for ‘If I can tell my mind that I can pull this plane, what else can I accomplish in life?’”


Lantern Community Services has received an $8.68 million contract from the New York City Department of Social Services. The money will fund supportive housing for people living with AIDS/HIV for five years through June 2024, according to the City Record. Harlem United Community AIDS Center will provide similar services, per a one-year, $1.34 million contract. New York Legal Assistance Group is getting $848,295.66 to deliver legal services for immigrants, while Sanctuary for Families and Urban Justice Center\\\ have won respective contracts of $941,977 and $1 million to help victims of domestic violence and trafficking.