Islander organizes girls’ night out with a charitable twist
Despite her background working with high-tech startup companies, Jamestown resident Elizabeth Hazard has chosen a decidedly traditional approach to her most recent endeavor. Hazard is the founder of Swap and Shop for Charity, a new project that features a twist on the old concept of “girls’ night out.”
Hazard, who is originally from Rhode Island, was living in Boston before moving to Jamestown 13 years ago. Hazard consulted with small companies while working with technology. She took care of their operational needs, human resources, and anything else that her clients needed at that stage of their development.
“You were involved with everything with a small company at that stage,” Hazard said. “It was really exciting.”
Hazard had been involved with nonprofit organizations like the American Cancer Society and the English Speaking Union all along, and when the time came to raise a family, she left the high-tech world behind and began to devote more of her time to the nonprofits. Among other activities, she cochaired opening night for the Boston Symphony, and also helped organize auctions for two of the schools that her children attended.
“I was involved in a lot of different activities helping charities to raise money for great causes,” Hazard said.
While working for nonprofits, Hazard noticed how difficult it was for the organizations to raise money, particularly in a difficult economic environment. It was then that she decided to blend her interest in recycling and reusing items with the girls’-night-out concept. Swap and Shop for Charity was born.
“All women love the girls’- night-out thing,” Hazard said. “They feel really special about the fun you have and the laughter. If you can do that and raise money for something at the same time, it just seemed like a win-win. And then you throw in the fact that you’ve organized your closets and you’ve recycled things. It just seemed like three or four great things in a row were happening. That’s how I started thinking about it.”
The way Swap and Shop works is that someone who wants to raise money for a cause can contact Hazard and ask for help in organizing a party. During the course of the week leading up to the event, people drop off clothes and accessories at the home of the hostess. On the day of the party, Hazard sets the scene by turning the venue into a boutique by installing mannequins, clothes racks and other items, which serve to add a fashion oriented touch to the home.
The party itself may include cocktails, or even dinner. The hostess will describe the charity and why she’s passionate about it. Then someone from the charity itself will speak for a few minutes about the organization. Next, Hazard tells the guests how the swap works, which is followed by a variety of activities and games.
The shopping follows and continues throughout the evening. At the end of the night when individual purchases are being tallied up, buyers have the option of adding on an additional donation to the charity.
Hazard stressed that she takes no fee and that 100 percent of the money raised goes to the charity. “The price of the clothes, in addition to the tax-deductible donation, goes to the charity,” she said.
The choice of charities is usually up to the person who is hosting the party. Hazard said that she is approached by individuals who are passionate about a specific charity, and sometimes the charity itself contacts her. The charity suggests someone from its organization who would make a good hostess for a fundraising party.
The first Swap and Shop for Charity took place earlier this year in Charlottesville, Va., where Hazard and her family have a farm. There have been several more since then, also in Virginia. Hazard is looking for her first opportunity in Jamestown. She has a website – SwapAndShopForChar ity.com – and says that all women interested in throwing a party can call her direct at 423-9121.
“I would love to have people know about this and contact me to suggest an organization that they care about,” Hazard said.
Among the charities that have benefited from the initial events are Gallastar Equine Center, an organization that provides horseback riding opportunities for mentally and physically challenged children, and the Center for Nonprofi t Excellence, an organization that helps nonprofits by providing training for board members, fundraising advice and a resource library.
Hazard’s daughter is the owner of two miniature pot bellied pigs who live on her farm in Virginia. She used the pair, Rosie and Truffl es, as the inspiration for creating her company logo.
“The real concept is about people saving money when they buy things at the swap,” Hazard said. “The charities receive the money from the swap. So it’s really the piggybank concept.”
Hazard said that one of the beauties of the events is that they are so inexpensive to put on. “The events have a short timeline and the charity doesn’t have to spend any money. It raises money. It’s so simple. It’s so easy.”