Virtual Murder Mystery a Shot in the Arm to Annual Campaign

By Jeremy Coumbes on March 5, 2021 at 6:26pm

A local nonprofit’s recent venture into virtual fundraising was a killer good time.

The Prairieland United Way’s 2020 annual campaign is winding down for the year. Due to the pandemic, the usual in-person large fundraiser such as last year’s the Price is United event just wasn’t an option.

This year’s fundraiser moved online with the virtual murder mystery Bullets in the Bathtub. The virtual event took participants back to the 1930s for an evening of gangsters set in Cherry’s Speakeasy.

Karen Walker, Executive Director of Prairieland United Way says the event was definitely a new experience for all who took part.

The company we used, “Just Murder Mysteries” located in Alton, did a fabulous job of coordinating. Bringing people into the screen and turning their mics on and their cameras on and just really bringing the audience into the whole script so it was fun.”

Walker says the virtual fundraiser was a big help for the campaign that wouldn’t have been possible without some generous outside help.

The murder mystery went very well. With Reynolds Consumer Products sponsoring us we were able to have three shows and all together we raised a little over fifty-nine hundred dollars through that fundraiser. So we were very excited to have that opportunity to raise some funds at the last minute to help us close out the campaign.”

Walker says a great deal of thanks is owed to Reynolds for their support in the venture.

The active fundraising portion of the campaign came to an end at the end of February. Walker says there are still donations coming in, and still, time to make one toward this year’s goal.

We currently are just over ninety-six percent, so about sixteen thousand short of our goal of four hundred and sixty-five thousand. We would love to get any donations, if anyone is able to contribute more that would be fantastic.

We’ve had a number of businesses locally that have stepped up and just given additional donations or reached out to see what else they can do to help. And you know it’s really been a tribute to the Bentons. Reg and Cynthia did a tremendous job of reaching out to the community.

Where we struggled this year was in our employee campaigns and we knew that was probably not going to happen going into this. With COVID we were unable to have access to the employee groups we would normally do, and that’s where we saw the biggest decline in contributions.”

Walker says even though they saw a drop in employee contributions this year from not being able to work with many employers, every other category of giving increased from last year.

She says it’s a testament to the hard work of Co-Chairs Reg and Cynthia Benton and the Prairieland United Way Board in reaching out to the community despite the ongoing pandemic.

Walker says allocations of the funds to their partner agencies begins on March 16th and she is hoping some last-minute donations can help them reach their goal in order to provide as much support as possible for the community.

She says anyone who would like to donate some last-minute help to reach their campaign goal, can drop off a check at the office located in the Jacksonville Municipal Building at 200 West Douglas. You can also donate electronically by going to their website at