It’s as reliable as the sun coming up in the morning (actually far more so since the polar night starts Friday): Every year Svalbard residents donate by far the most per-person to a nationwide fundraiser that culminates in a TV auction to benefit a specific cause.
This year was no different despite lingering tough economic times locally, with Svalbard raising a total of 1,099,988 kroner as of early Monday morning – total of 503.31 kroner per resident, according to NRK. Utsira ranked second at 325.55 kroner and Träna third at 260.06 kroner.
One reason Svalbard consistently comes out on top is various organizations and individuals host a month of various fundraising events in Longyearbyen before the TV auction, which this year took place Sunday. The daylong nationwide event was followed by a multi-hour traditional auction locally at the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel where more than 100 items ranging from plumbing services to art to a 10-person overnight trip to Ny-Ålesund were up for bid.
“How do you describe a day like this?” wrote Anne Lise Sandvik, the longtime lead organizer for local events related to the nationwide fundraiser, on her Facebook page Monday. “(A total of) 668,000 kroner was the result of the auction. An amazing result. In addition there are entrance fees, sales of food and beverages (provided by the hotel) and tips from the staff in the pub. We have rounded one million and there is still money flowing in.”
The trip to Ny-Ålesund, the second-to-last item at the auction, tied for the highest bid at 80,000 kroner, with a polar bear skin donated by The Governor of Svalbard bringing in the same amount as the last item of the night.
Other local events during the month included a relay race that traditionally starts the campaign, open days at the kindergarten and schools where youths sold food (including soup made from reindeer they hunted earlier this fall) and crafts, and a rummage sale at The University Centre in Svalbard. Numerous individuals and businesses also offered items ranging from homemade cakes to yoga sessions on the fundraiser’s local Facebook page.
The telethon, hosted by NRK, is Norway’s largest annual fundraising event. A total of 218,586,896 kroner was raised this year as of about 5:30 a.m. Monday, according to the network. This year’s proceeds are being donated to UNICEF to help the organization provide educational opportunities for children in war zones.