An unusual fundraiser featuring goats has exceeded expectations in the Tri-Cities.
Wishing Star’s Send a Friend a Goat event has raised $21,400 so far this week, exceeding its goal of $15,000.
Here’s how it works: Donate $50 to Wishing Star, which grants wishes of area children with life-threatening illnesses, and get a live goat delivered to a friend or co-worker.
Delivered goats can be removed for any donation, but $50 allows the goat recipient to pick a business or individual to which they can send the animal. People also can buy “goat insurance” for $100 if they want to avoid a surprise visit.
The event has been so successful that Wishing Star is not taking any more pre-orders for goat deliveries this week, said Brittany Bergsson, development director for the Spokane-based agency. People who receive a goat can still direct it to be sent to someone else.
“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” she said. “It’s just been insane, in a good way.”
Send a Friend a Goat is happening in the Tri-Cities for the first time, but it has raised $197,000 in Spokane in 10 years, Bergsson said. The event last year raised $23,000.
Five teams with goats were out Tuesday, including one with a goat wearing a Cinco de Mayo-themed sombrero. Bergsson said that between 50 and 60 businesses participate each day.
The average cost for Wishing Star to fulfill a child’s wish is about $5,000, with an additional $3,500 of in-kind goods and services, according to the agency. Wishing Star now has eight children in the process of receiving a wish.
The goats, which come from Ham Fam Farms in Benton City, are raised by kids participating in 4-H, Bergsson said.
Fred Rumsey, a union representative with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, has been a volunteer with Wishing Star for 15 years. He used to raise money for the organization through an annual Super Bowl party.
He jumped at the chance to send a goat to someone he knew when he heard Send a Friend a Goat was coming to the Tri-Cities.
“I think it’s a great way to help them raise money,” Rumsey said. “I look forward to helping them do it again next year.”
One problem does sometimes come up — the goats are so cute that people want to keep them.
“We tell them that, if you keep the goat, we can’t continue to grant wishes to sick kids,” Bergsson said.