Fundraiser Ideas! How Valpo Uses Creativity to Care for Victims of Domestic Violence

We think you’ll agree, everyone loves to help others during the holiday season. What can be more gratifying than giving a donation during the most spirited time of the year? But raising funds during the Holiday season can be tough! Most people are tapped out and have nothing left in the tank. Today, you’ll learn the secret fundraiser ideas that helped a group of Valpo businesses raise $31,101 in a week for Hilltop. 

Somebody call the Hallmark Channel…. Valpo’s got a story to tell!

Last Year’s Christmas Miracle raised $31,101 in a Week!

Just ask the experts. With Families spending their last paychecks of the year on gifts for loved ones and travel, raising money just before Christmas is difficult. Raising over $30,000 before Christmas is unheard of. But raising $31,101 in just a few days with only a week to plan and execute is a Christmas miracle!

Today, you’ll learn how a group of local businesses that call themselves the Valpo Restaurant Group did all this and more through innovative fundraiser ideas, creative marketing, and a community that refuses to quit! You’ll see how they leveraged matching funds, hilarious video productions, and giant Christmas cards to bring the true meaning of Christmas to Northwest Indiana.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention | How they Did It!

The Valpo Restaurant Group is made up of restaurants and local businesses

To be successful, the fundraiser needed to give people a powerful reason to give. If everyone was tapped out, they would tap into any and all resources. Jim Jano contacted long-time friend Howard Gutenstein from New Jersey. Gutenstein spent 15 years living in Valparaiso and with his siblings, manages the Gutenstein Family Foundation. Gutenstein suggested matching donations as a smart way of motivating the community to give. Gutenstein pledged up to $10,000 in matching funds as a grant.

According to Don Quijote’s Carlos Rivero, 84% of people say they’re more likely to donate if their gift is matched.

People that donated were matched dollar for dollar and were given the chance to sign the giant Christmas Card

The group then created a giant 3-foot Christmas card for people to sign that made a donation. The giant Christmas cards were displayed at each restaurant and to our business community members. The community hadn’t!” a chance to double their donation, sign the card, and have a great dining experience.”

Every Miracle has an improbable Start ….Valpo’s started with, “You can’t.”

The Valpo Restaurant’s combine Christmas Spirit, great food and fundraising. Cheers!


Nobody gave the fundraiser a chance for success, and it appeared as though they were right! Many people were skeptical, claiming the Valpo Restaurant Group was embarrassing itself by even trying! Fortunately, the group had people like Carlos Rivero, Steve Daly, and Jim Jano Janesheski that refused to accept the two words that don’t fit in a business owner’s vocabulary…. “you can’t”

According to Perma-Green’s Steve Daly, ” As small business owners, we are experts at adapting and innovating. You don’t survive as a business or restaurant unless you find solutions when you are up against adversity. We utilize our networks, listen to ideas, and look for solutions.” But Daly also believes that growing up in Northwest Indiana creates additional motivation. We believe it is our responsibility to pay it forward. When our community needs help, we answer the call! Greek philosopher Plato said, ‘necessity is the mother of invention. This was a need that would require extraordinary innovation!

But with only a few weeks before Christmas Day and everyone stripped of cash, the fundraiser of 2021 wasn’t working. Nobody was contributing. Sure, the fundraising concept was innovative, but as my old college professor would often say, “the greatest idea in the world is made in vain without marketing.”

The Grassroots Fundraiser got a Boost from a Lawn Care Tip!

Steve Daly helped jump-start last year’s fundraiser by donating to several restaurants. Valpo donations were doubled and everyone got to sign a giant X-Mas card.

To give the fundraiser a jump start, Jim Jano took photos of Daly making donations and signing the giant Christmas card at numerous restaurants. The idea came from a blog that Daly and Jano created together that explored the benefits of fall fertilizers and how these treatments will jump-start a lawn in the spring. What could be more appropriate than having Daly jump-start the grassroots fundraiser?

Daly’s $1500 Perma-Green donation quickly reached over 25,000 people on a  Valpo Restaurant Facebook post. People loved the idea of helping others and signing a Christmas Card from the community. The fundraiser was gaining momentum. The following day, a meeting was called to bring all the Valpo Restaurants together for a video shoot.

Radius’ Chris Pavlou & Don Q’s Carlos Rivero make a pitch for the Caring Place!

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, the restaurants asked the community to donate- double their money, and sign the giant card. Valpo loves its restaurants and with such lovable characters making their pitch, the fundraiser had the momentum of a runaway train! New videos were shot daily! The Group earned enough money to keep the pantry filled for a year!

This year, the Valpo Restaurants and Perma-Green are back for more Christmas magic! But this time, they are helping women, children, and all people escape domestic violence.

 The Ultimate Challenge…  Helping Victims of Domestic Violence

People that donate to the Caring Place will have a chance to sign the giant Christmas card.

While last year’s fundraiser was a success, don’t expect the Valpo Restaurant Group’s restaurants and its community members like Perma-Green, Jano-Digital, Grieger’s Motors, and Uptown East to take a bow, they are already planning for a 2022 Christmas Fundraiser. This time, the necessity is victims of domestic violence and the charity is Caring Place.

But helping people that are victims of domestic violence just might be the group’s biggest challenge yet. Most people love to support charities that help children. We all do! Unfortunately, people are very uncomfortable thinking about domestic violence. It’s a subject people would rather not talk about and even tune out. Now compound that with the fact that you can’t post an image of an innocent Mom and her child that are being helped by institutions like the Caring Place. These people are being protected.

The reality is, the charities that need the most help are the ones that face the greatest challenges to raise funds. But in Valpo, we don’t run from a challenge, we face them. For 2022, we have accepted the challenge to help victims of domestic violence and are turning once again to innovative fundraising ideas. But this year, we are sharing some cool ideas with the hope of enlisting the entire community. But before sharing new, innovative fundraising ideas, let’s take a quick look at the Caring Place.

Meet the Caring Place!


The Caring Place helps victims of dometic violence

The Caring Place is significantly important to mothers, children, and all people that need it. It is a wonderful opportunity to help a family get a fresh start this Christmas.

The Caring Place is an equal opportunity organization serving people who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault and their children.

The Caring Place provides inclusive service, shelter, and ongoing support for people experiencing domestic violence. Through advocacy, education, and awareness, we empower people to build supportive, respectful, compassionate relationships.

The Caring Place needs your help!

Double Your Donation | Matching Funds up to $20,000

Roller Derby at Valpo’s Pavilion to benefit the Caring Place.


Returning for another year is the New Jersey angel that goes by Howard Gutenstein. This year, the Gutenstein Family Foundation is matching up to $20,000. Yep! You can double your donation up to $20,000!

But in the tradition of Robert Gutenstein, who set up the foundation as a means of motivating everyday people to give, we end this blog by empowering you with ideas for tripling your contribution.  If you are someone that wants to help, these ideas will help you get started.  As mentioned, matching funds provide our community with a strong incentive to help while these ideas are meant to engage everyday people, including the people you work with, go to school with, and the businesses around Northwest Indiana.

It’s easier than you think!

Five Fundraising Ideas to Double Your Donation

Perma-Green’s Steve & Sandy Daly bring smiles and cash to a Don Quijote fundraiser.

Giving can be fun in so many ways, and now the giving grows exponentially! Here are 5 ways to grow your donations into much, much more. The first 3 ideas can be created by you and others from work, school, church, or even a corporation. The ideas are easier than you think.

Finally, for streamlined giving that also has matching funds of up to $20,000, we finish with 2 other innovative ways of giving. One idea comes with a gorgeous Valpo Coffee table book and the other allows you to sign a Giant Christmas Card.

  3 Creative Ways You Can Get Others to Help the Caring Place!

#1 Employee Donation Matching

Great for both corporations and small businesses. Businesses can make a positive difference for Mothers and Children of Domestic Violence while also supporting a rewarding work environment for their employees.

This means, your business can turn $100 into $200 by matching funds. Now simply donate this $200 to the Spirit of the Christmas Card Fundraiser, and your $100 has grown into $400. (Matching Funds are limited to $20,000 per the Gutenstein Foundation.)

Corporations truly inspired can offer a 2:1 or even a 4:1 ratio.

#2 Corporate Donation Matching

Shoulder-to-shoulder, Carlos and Porter County Sheriff-Elect, Jeff Balon team up to stop domestic violence

Yet another way to grow your donation and make it go twice as far is to ask a corporation or business to match your funds. This is not the same as employee matching. because you may not have any direct relationship with the business.

Because it is a one-time ask, the business may be extra generous, especially when you tell them their match to yours will be doubled by the Spirit of the Christmas Card Match.  So your $500 donation can grow to $2,000.  (Matching Funds are limited to $20,000 per the Gutenstein Foundation.)

Corporate- Easier than you think, many medium to large corporations have philanthropy programs with an application form on their website.

Local Companies-or- Small Businesses- These businesses have a vested interest in making Valparaiso or Northwest Indiana a Better Place. Their suppliers, employees, and customers also live in the area.

#3 Donation Matching Challenges
The caring Place needs Big Help!

Matching Gift Challenges are perfect for people that believe you should, “Go Big or Go Home”.  It starts with a big goal. By elevating the stakes, you ultimately raise more money for the Caring Place.  It’s simple,  your major donor agrees to match your funds and if you raise a certain amount by a deadline, the donor matches you. It’s even more of an incentive if you leverage the Spirit of the Christmas Tree match! Make sure you disclose the Gutenstein Family Foundations limit of $20,000 limit.

This form of matching creates a sense of urgency and excitement in the people you approach.


2 Easy Ways You Can Donate Online | Fast & Simple! 

Give $50 to the Caring Place & and Get a Free Valpo Coffee table Book

A beautiful coffee table book called Making Paradise is Free with every $50 donation.

Donate $50 or more online to the Caring Place and receive a Free copy of the book, Making Paradise. The Book captures the history of Valparaiso-which begins in 1834 when Valpo was called Portersville.  The illustrated coffee table book is the perfect gift for anyone that loves a great story and history. As a bonus, the first 500 books will include the DVD called Making Paradise, a nominated film by the PAECA Film Festival.

You can donate online to the Caring Place. Your confirmation will be texted or emailed to your phone. Just bring your confirmation code to any of the businesses listed here and pick up your Free copy. You can also bring your donation directly to the restaurants and businesses listed. Smoketown Blues, Schiralli Gallery & Inn, Radius-Valpo, Don Quijote, Martinis’, the Abbey (Aberdeen Inn) Perma-Green, Uptown East Apartments, Grieger’s Motor Sales, JANO-DIGITALThe Caring Place

How to Show you Care! | Sign the Giant Christmas Card

Carlos at Don Quijote wants everyone to sign the Giant X-Mas Card

With this fundraising idea, anyone that donates online to the Caring Place or Brings a Check to the Caring Place to any participating Valpo Restaurant will be asked to sign a giant Christmas Card from the Community. These cards will be at each of these restaurants and businesses– Radius, Martinis’, Smoketown Blues, The Aberdeen Inn, Perma-Green, Don Quijote, Grieger’s Motor Sales, Schiralli Gallery & Inn, McGowan & Sons, Pikk’s, Veleros Mexican, Elements Wine bar, The Caring Place, Tommy Bs, Uptown East Apartments, Amici Grill & Pizzeria,  Rudy’s BBQ, Washington Street Tap Room 

DONATE NOW- The Caring Place


So there you go! The secret fundraising ideas that helped raise $31,101 and, 3 innovative ideas for you to create your own fundraiser. Just remember, never accept the words, “you can’t” because anything is possible at Christmas time in Northwest Indiana!

By Jim Jano Janesheski


A Family Affair! Perma-Green’s Cydney & Steve Daly work hard to run the family business & support their community. Daly was influential in getting Valpo Restaurants to help victims of domestic violence.

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