The coronavirus has put a damper on fundraising for many nonprofit organizations, including the Catalina Conservancy, which is tasked with the upkeep and conservation of the majority of the island.

But despite the challenges, the conservancy’s annual “Under the Stars” fundraising event, which took place virtually last month, netted $230,000 to go toward expenses like infrastructure maintenance, educational programming and preservation efforts. Over the past 25 years, the annual event has raised a net total of $7.8 million.

The conservancy had seen an increase in funds raised from the ball in the years just preceding the pandemic, a momentum that its chief development officer, Suzy Gardner, fears may have been lost due to the limitations the pandemic placed on the conservancy’s outreach efforts.

The past year has been difficult, Gardner said, especially because the conservancy’s guided tours were prohibited. “Not just because you lose revenue, but because you lose that in-person connection,” she noted.

April’s event provided an opportunity for the conservancy to re-establish that connection. A total of 450 attendees from 20 states attended the event, which featured charitable auctions and a live musical performance.

“This digital adventure provided a great way to connect with those who love Catalina and we look forward to being able to celebrate in person sometime soon,” President and CEO Tony Budrovich said in a press release.

Donors, he added, were key in fulfilling the conservancy’s mission of being “responsible stewards of Catalina Island, keeping Catalina Island accessible for future generations.”