Raising money in a tough economy hardly need be backbreaking work. Just ask Tony Gambaiani.

Granted, he’s a well-known banker with JCB and substantially into philanthropy.

But he believes even a fundraising novice can watch the money roll in just in time to let the good times roll for Bowl For Kids Sake. That’s the annual event, slated March 7 at Columbus Bowling Center, that raises money for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bartholomew County mentoring program.

And computer links at foundationforyouth.com allow people to register as a bowler or virtual bowler — and then send out a simple donor link to a list of contacts. So, tapping people for help is as simple as tapping a keyboard, as Gambaiani sees it.

He should know. At press time, he was the event’s leading money raiser.

“It’s a convenient, easy and powerful tool to reach so many people,” Gambaiani said.

That includes out-of-town friends and family who may not know much of the event, but they understand the impact of mentoring youngsters. Big Brothers regularly cites national studies showing that young people with mentors are less likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol, and less likely to skip school.

Organizers estimate that each mentor match costs $1,000 to $1,200, including background checks for safety.

So Gambaiani, a former board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ parent agency of Foundation for Youth, hopes people will form a virtual bowling team if there’s no way they can bowl that day, as he will with his two children. The way he and organizers see it, virtual participants still can score as big an impact as if they were … well, bowling kingpins.

“And they’re still eligible for all the prizes (at the event),” said Karina Willats.

She’s Big Brothers Big Sisters’ resource manager and the coordinator of Bowl For Kids Sake. She referred to everything from the prize given to the top fundraiser to hourly drawings for a range of items.

“We really do need more teams,” said Laura Moses, director of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Organizers are aiming for 90 teams, to top the 87 from last year, when $92,000 was generated for the cause.

The event also will include a silent auction available for online bids through March 14.

Roll 'em

What: Annual Bowl for Kids Sake fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bartholomew County.

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 7.

Where: Columbus Bowling Center, 3010 State St.

Signup deadline: March 7.

How to register to bowl or to donate: foundationforyouth.com, then click programs, Big Brothers Big Sisters and then the arrow for Bowl For Kids Sake.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.