You’ll find Firespringer Ronni Lanham hard at work behind the scenes of one of Lincoln’s most exciting and inspiring community events.
In little more than a decade, Ignite Lincoln and its unique blend of fundraising, storytelling and community engagement has provided $100,000 to area nonprofits, fueling their power to do more good.
Presented by Firespring and based on the international group Ignite Talks, Ignite Lincoln hosts an annual event in which weeks of fundraising are capped off by a spectacular, fun-filled evening of captivating speakers chosen from the Lincoln community to entertain and delight the audience.
The best part? Five featured nonprofits will have the chance to walk away with up to $5,000 in proceeds through sponsorships, ticket sales and online donations.
Here’s how it works.
In the months leading up to the Ignite Lincoln event (coming up August 11 at Lincoln’s Rococo Theatre), Lincolnites are encouraged to visit ignitelincoln.org to nominate an impactful nonprofit for the chance to be one of five finalists. In the following weeks, the honorees will be the focus of a full-fledged online fundraising and social media awareness campaign, supported by Ronni and her fellow Firespringers, including CEO and Ignite Lincoln co-founder, Jay Wilkinson. Meanwhile, the public at-large will show their support by visiting the Ignite Lincoln website to donate to one or more of the finalists. (More on this year’s featured organizations later.)
Then, the fun begins.
If you’ve ever seen a TEDx Talk, you’ll have an idea of what to expect from Ignite Lincoln’s diverse slate of speakers who will grace the stage to entertain the audience with monologues and stories involving something they’re passionate about. The kicker? Each and every one of this year’s 11 speakers only gets five minutes of the spotlight.
The lineup for 2022 contains an array of unique storytellers whose featured topics — from stroke survival, to living with purpose to charcuterie — are sure to offer something for everyone.
“The stories are known to get big laughs from the audience,” said Ronni, who chairs Logistics and Donation Appeal for Ignite Lincoln, helping make the whole thing tick. “I remember my first event in 2014. I laughed so hard I cried. Then I actually cried from a story that was being told.”
Toward the end of the night, the five finalists are brought on stage, where they are each awarded a portion of the year’s proceeds from donations and ticket sales. The largest sum, $5,000, goes to the organization that receives the most anonymous votes from the audience, but even the lowest finisher will walk away with a minimum of $500. With over three dozen sponsors helping to cover this year’s event costs, every penny raised through public donations and ticket sales go directly to the finalists.
This year’s Ignite Lincoln featured nonprofits include Boys & Girls Clubs of Lincoln/Lancaster County, Mental Health Association of Nebraska, Nebraska Stroke Association, NeighborWorks Lincoln and Vision Maker Media. Information on the 2022 event speakers can be found at ignitelincoln.org.
Ronni, whose day job at Firespring involves serving on the Culture Club, said she has been volunteering with Ignite Lincoln since 2014 and finds it incredibly rewarding to help amplify the voices of so many nonprofits that are making a real difference in and around Lincoln.
“I love the opportunity to support local nonprofits in Lincoln and love that Ignite Lincoln brings them face-to-face with the community for a fun event.”
When she’s not volunteering or Firespringing, you might find Ronni “floating, boating, fishing or camping” with her husband, Scott, or making plans with their son, Austin, and future daughter-in-law, Shelbi. And let’s not forget “grandpup” Stella.
But for now, Ronni is busy preparing — alongside fellow Firespringers — for the big night on August 11, when the stage will light up not just with entertainment, but also passion and purpose.
It’s not too late to make a donation or buy tickets for this year’s Ignite Lincoln. Visit ignitelincoln.org, and be sure to check out the event on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.