It’s cliché but it’s true: teamwork makes the dream work. And for those leading the charge at both the AMOA’s Coin-Op Cares and AAMA’s Charitable Foundation, a decision to unite their fundraising efforts during Amusement Expo, creating the new “AEI Charity Fund,” will hopefully greatly enhance the industry’s ability to give back.
During the keynote address on Education Day (June 29) at the show, the plans for the new fundraising effort were announced, along with its timeline: to debut the program at the 2022 Amusement Expo. The joint venture is under the leadership of AAMCF Chairman David Cohen and AMOA Coin-Op Cares’ Tim Zahn with equal participation from both associations.
“Throughout the year, the industry exhibits its superior spirit of generosity by supporting the AAMCF and AMOA Coin-Op Cares,” Cohen said. “Bringing the industry together at Amusement Expo to support the AEI Charity Fund provides a unique opportunity to give back in one unified effort.”
What’s key about this new program, Cohen emphasized, is that it’s additive. Both organizations will continue to work on their independent philanthropic efforts. And if their past success is any indication of what’s possible when they work together, expect big things. AMOA has given out over $1.5 million in Hesch scholarships since the program’s inception while AAMCF has made contributions in excess of $2 million dollars supporting nearly 150 charities through its program.
The process of joining forces got rolling about a year and a half ago, explained AMOA’s Executive VP Lori Schneider, when leaders at both associations were looking for ways they could work together beyond their annual collaboration to produce the Expo. “This seemed like a good place to start, especially with the goal of creating a true joint effort,” she said.
The feeling was certainly mutual. AAMCF Executive Director Tina Schwartz said, “We’re show partners in Amusement Expo and we’re committed to that. We believe we should show that unity and that our fundraising efforts should reflect that partnership also.”
“The desire to work together to benefit charity was strong. We use the word ‘unity’ quite a bit,” said Tim Zahn. “It’s important we have a program we can support together. We each have our existing programs, like our Hesch Scholarship fund, and although they will be done differently than they have in the past, we will continue to do them at the same level.” (AMOA’s Schneider said details on the scholarship program will be announced later, but to expect those efforts to move to the fall months.)
AAMCF’s Cohen said, “This program is meant to be incremental for both organizations. Both teams will continue to do the work they do today, and now, by combining efforts at the show, will raise more money to support both the Coin-Op Cares and AAMCF programs. We know that when we work together towards a common goal, we increase the success factors exponentially.”
Looking back on the initial, pre-pandemic plans for the new fund, Cohen said, “Prior to Covid, if you play back your memories to 2019, one could assess the industry as doing very, very well, right? When the industry does well, it gives us an opportunity as a community to give back.
“Of course, once we got into Covid, fundraising was not an option,” he continued. “We had to figure out what was going to happen in the industry. We decided strategy and having discussions were more important than trying to raise money right away. So, we spent the year thinking about how to work together and watch as we navigated through the pandemic.”
He added, “Tim and I are very lucky, first of all, to have Lori and Tina as executive directors, helping us navigate this. And, we also have a bunch of volunteers who work very hard on this as well.” On the committee are Greg Trent, Luke Adams, Emily Dunn, Joe Camarota, Howard McAuliffe and Jeff Blair.
“It’s a great group and everyone is passionate about accomplishing our goals,” concluded Zahn. “I’ve enjoyed the process up to now and I’m excited to announce it and get going on the actual planning for the following year. With the show coming up next March, it will come up pretty quick!”
Stay tuned to RePlay for regular updates on the program as they are announced or reach out to AAMCF Executive Director Tina Schwartz at [email protected] or AMOA’s Lori Schneider at [email protected].