Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural and Charitable Organizations (PONCHO)

Document Type

Case Study

Publication Date



Judith Whetzel, Carol (Evans) Munro, Lorna Kneeland


Susan Kunimatsu


Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural, and Charitable Organizations (PONCHO) was formed in 1963 by a group of civic leaders who banded together to host a gala fundraiser to rescue the Seattle Symphony Orchestra from bankruptcy after their production of Aida during the 1962 World’s Fair left them $35,000 in debt. When that first event raised over $100,000, PONCHO continued to host annual galas to support arts and cultural organizations. PONCHO is credited with creating the charitable auction industry in Seattle. The organization raised $35 million for over 200 organizations during its 50-year history. Ceasing operations in 2013, it became a legacy fund of the Seattle Foundation which supports the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Opera, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and a K-12 arts education initiative.

Organization or Event

Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural, and Charitable Organizations (PONCHO)

Form of Entity


Area of Activity

Arts Philanthropy/Funding

Artistic Discipline

Multidisciplinary Arts (multiple disciplines)