CASTRO VALLEY (CBS 5) — It’s hard raising money for charity in a tough economy, but an East Bay man helps devise creative events to do just that.

It all started with a spirited discussion after a party. Dan Michie and three college buddies were riding home from a Lake Tahoe bachelor party in 2004 when they made a life-changing decision.

“We could’ve done better with the money we spent, and probably wasted while we were up there,” Michie remembered.

By 2005, the four dads had formed Active Charity to organize fundraisers for nonprofits.

“When we started thinking about what events we wanted to put on, we said a golf tournament would be fun, have some beers at the end of the course, maybe have an auction at the end of the night,” he explained.

Neither Michie nor his co-founders had much experience planning fundraisers. But in 2006, their first event – a golf tournament, auction and dinner – raised $112,000, twice their goal, for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Today, JDRF’s Summer Classic is Active Charity’s largest event. It’s raked in more than $1.3 million in five years.

JDRF Board Member Loren Lingenfelter said Michie’s helped expand its sponsor and volunteer base.

“He is a driver, he’s passionate,” Lingenfelter said of Michie. “He’s a very well-rounded person who genuinely cares.”

And when it comes to choosing which nonprofits to help out, Michie uses three criteria: “We wanted to have fun no matter what we’re doing. We want to focus on children’s events, and keep it local in the Bay Area.”

And Active Charity co-founder Jason Skeoch said Michie knows how to put fun, and even fitness, into the 15 events they’re organized so far.

“He comes up with crazy ideas every time we meet,” Skeoch said. “Some of the good ideas he came up with was certainly the poker party, was his idea, and virtual challenges were his idea.”

Michie and Active Charity set up both fundraisers for George Mark Children’s House in Castro Valley, which cares for kids with life-limiting illnesses. Besides the poker tournaments, the virtual challenge raised cash as people paid to run or bike a specific course, post their times online, and compete for a prize.

Teri Rose from George Mark Children’s House said Michie’s leadership helped generate $10,000 in several fundraisers.

“He’s enthusiastic,” Rose said. “He knows a lot of people and his enthusiasm is infectious.”

Michie’s just glad to be serving with his best friends.

“More than anything, we get a sense of satisfaction that we are helping the local community. It’s a lot of fun,” he added.

So, for helping local children’s nonprofits raise money, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Dan Michie.

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