Cornucopia on the lookout for 2020 charitable recipient 

Food and drink festival has helped raise more than $500K for deserving organizations

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MIKE CRANE / COURTESY OF TOURISM WHISTLER - Cornucopia, which returns from Nov. 12 to 22, is looking for a charitable recipient for this year's event.
  • Photo by Mike Crane / Courtesy of Tourism Whistler
  • Cornucopia, which returns from Nov. 12 to 22, is looking for a charitable recipient for this year's event.

Whistler's largest food and drink festival is on the lookout for a deserving organization to be its charitable recipient for 2020’s event.

For the past 13 years, Cornucopia has tapped local organizations to help provide volunteers and organize a silent auction for the fall festival. In return, the participating charity receives funds raised through the silent auction, as well as coat-check proceeds from the festival’s numerous events.

“You don’t have to tell us what you’re going to do with the money. That’s what makes it unique and extremely valuable for the charities,” explained Sue Eckersley, president of Cornucopia producer, Watermark Communications. “As someone who’s been on charity boards, you get money from different organizations, but there’s always strings attached.”

Historically, Watermark has favoured organizations based in the Sea to Sky, but Eckersley said groups from further afar will also be considered so long as the work they do impacts the corridor in some way. Past recipients, which have included the Whistler Public Library, the Whistler Writers Festival and the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program, are also eligible for consideration.

Eckersley noted that organizations typically average around $35,000 in funds raised, with some groups able to garner more than $50,000. In all, Cornucopia has raised more than $500,000 for deserving charities over the years.

Initially, the festival asked organizations to provide up to 200 volunteers to help staff the event, but organizers found the demand to be a challenge for some groups to meet.

“That’s a pretty steep ask for the vast majority of charities, so it would virtually eliminate everyone,” she said. “So now the volunteers are Cornucopia volunteers. What we say to the charity is if we have trouble filling certain spots, you guys are responsible for filling them.”

The charitable recipient also must staff the coat check with between 10 to 15 volunteers, and is responsible for collecting a minimum of 150 items for the silent auction, which last year moved online for the first time.

“It allowed us to start the next year’s festival with some money in the bank and allowed us to think about how we might program and get a bit bigger,” said Whistler Writers Festival founder and director Stella Harvey of the roughly $32,000 it split in 2017 with fellow charitable recipient, the Whistler Public Library. “It was a lot of hard work, which was very difficult. We really appreciated doing it with the library because we just don’t have the volunteer capability that other larger organizations have. That was a challenge.”

Watermark will be accepting expressions of interest until Sunday, March 8 at Along with a brief outline of the organization’s mandate, the letter should also include its charity number, an overview of its volunteer recruitment plan, how the organization can support with promotion and marketing, what the funding would be used for, and how it plans to solicit items for the silent auction.

Submissions should be no longer than two pages.

For more details, contact Watermark or visit Cornucopia returns from Nov. 12 to 22, 2020.

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