BOCA RATON, FL – When COVID threatened to cancel this year’s 9th Annual Martinis for Melanoma hosted by SafeSun Foundation to raise funds for skin cancer education, research and treatment, the foundation’s directors were initially devastated. Every year, hundreds gather for this event along with a Silent Auction and guest speakers, and it was clear that COVID restrictions were going to force the event, like so many others around the world, to cancel or postpone indefinitely. But instead of giving up, the foundation turned to OGK Creative for their immediate problem-solving skills. Now, with the success of its first-ever live virtual event, Martinis for Melanoma has helped raise more than $50,000 that will go towards providing a permanent sunshade structure at AVDA (Aid to Victim’s of Domestic Abuse), sun safety education, free sunscreen dispensers, linking state of the art care with patients otherwise unable to afford it and life-saving melanoma research.

According to Grenzebach Glier and Associates, 42 percent of nonprofits are anticipating a “high” negative impact on fundraising through the rest of 2020, and many have laid off staff due to budget cuts and ongoing worries of slipping donations and cancelled fundraising plans. While other charities have been able to hold steady or see small decreases, SafeSun Foundation had a very different experience, more than doubling its projected goal with this year’s event. “We could not be more excited, and to see this type of support and generosity, especially during this time, is truly incredible,” said Fran Nachlas, who along with her husband Dr. Nathan Nachlas, co-founded the SafeSun Foundation with the Luciano and Friedman Families.

When COVID threatened the event, Fran enlisted the help of OGK Creative, a 10-year-old Boca Raton-based full-service agency specializing in branding, marketing, and corporate strategy. “We got the idea to host the event virtually and allow anyone to participate – so now we weren’t just drawing from our local area, but we could reach people all over the state for our event,” added Fran.

“But to be honest, I was just going to shoot it on my phone and place it on our website. Knowing that wasn’t likely to move the needle, OGK really stepped up with an engaging video special, industry contacts, and promotional concepts to draw people in and generate excitement for the event. It truly ended up surprising their loyal followers on the quality and entertainment value. The end result remains with a condensed streaming, recorded, and downloadable video that can be viewed in exchange for a donation to the SafeSun Foundation. It originally aired on November 15th and featured five “martini masters” from some of South Florida’s premier bars and restaurants. The master mixologists showed off their skills while also teaching viewers how to make their versions of the classic cocktail. There was also an online auction and raffles that included an array of exciting products such as a new Peloton bike, an African safari, a diamond necklace, and more. When the night was over and the donations were tallied, a total of $50,000 was raised, shattering the previous high of $18,000 and setting a new record for the Martinis for Melanoma event.

“The worldwide pandemic has created especially challenging times for nonprofits and charitable organizations who rely primarily on fundraisers and events to generate interest, awareness, and contributions. But when something like this happens, it just forces us to be even more progressive to create some positivity in an otherwise negative situation,” said Don Tolep, creative business strategist at OGK Creative. “We are so pleased to have helped the SafeSun Foundation bring this event to a new level of awareness and success, and, like so many other things that COVID has changed forever, we think this will change how events take place for years to come.”

Sponsors that helped make this year’s Martinis for Melanoma event possible include Crown Wine & Spirits, Deep Eddy Vodka, Under the Sun Hair Care, The Nose and Sinus Institute of Boca Raton, South Florida Luxury Realtors and Tint World among others. “Times are definitely tough for a lot of people,” said Fran. “But it’s encouraging to know that with some outside-the-box thinking and surrounding yourself with passionate people, you can still make a difference.” SafeSun Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Boca Raton, Florida. For more information, please call 561.350.5110, e-mail fnachlas@aol.com, or visit safesunfoundation.com.