Embracing the Cosmos: Dark Sky Festival 2024

Are you ready to be awestruck by the magnificence of the universe? Come out Saturday, March 30th and prepare to immerse yourself in a celestial adventure at the Dark Sky Festival 2024! From stargazing to educational talks, this festival promises an unforgettable experience for astronomy enthusiasts and curious minds alike.

Exploring the Unknown

Hosted at the Fountain Hills Community Center, the Dark Sky Festival offers a rare opportunity to delve into the mysteries of the cosmos. Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or a novice sky-watcher, there’s something for everyone at this stellar event. Gaze upwards and witness the brilliance of the night sky like never before. With minimal light pollution, the celestial canopy above becomes a canvas adorned with countless stars, planets, and galaxies. Telescopes will be available for attendees to observe distant nebulae, star clusters, and even other galaxies millions of light-years away.

Enlightening Talks and Workshops

Expand your knowledge of the universe through engaging talks and workshops led by experts in the field of astronomy and astrophysics. From discussions on the latest astronomical discoveries to workshops on astrophotography techniques, there’s plenty to learn and explore for attendees of all ages. Speakers include; Jo Marchant, Julisa Wang,and  Marsha Diane Arnold.

Family-Friendly Activities

No matter your age or areas of interest, you’ll find fun activities for everyone, including Face Painting, Make a Moon Crater, Tour the Community Garden, Solve the Problem of Lighting Glare, Touch Real Meteorites, Virtual Reality Journey across Solar System, See Live Nocturnal Animals, and Trip to Mars with the Rover. Our auction is a great way to pick up a telescope, telescope equipment, and other great items for great nights under the stars. It includes gift baskets with night sky-themed children’s books, certificates for local resorts under the stars, stargazing experiences, and more.

Night Sky Photography Contest

Witness the captured beauty of the night sky at  the Dark Sky Festival’s photography contest. Prizes will be awarded for various categories, including best constellation photo and best Milky Way panorama.

Preserving the Dark Sky

As we marvel at the beauty of the night sky, let us also reflect on the importance of preserving it for future generations. The Dark Sky Festival promotes awareness of light pollution and its impact on both human health and the environment. Through education and advocacy, we can work together to protect our precious night skies for years to come.

Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this extraordinary celebration of the cosmos. Whether you’re a passionate astronomer, a nature enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys marveling at the wonders of the universe, the Dark Sky Festival welcomes you with open arms. Come join us as we embark on a journey through the cosmos and experience the magic of the night sky like never before.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Dark Sky Festival website. See you under the stars!

Nonprofit Network Retreat #3 Video Available

Nonprofit Network Retreat #3 Video Available

We had another successful retreat with area nonprofits.

Mark Dalton, FHCCA Treasurer, gave a full presentation on the GiveSmart auction software. This technology is available to Nonprofit Network members for an additional $100 per year.

Vicky Derksen, FHCCA Membership & Marketing, gave a brief presentation on volunteer recruitment and retention. This was followed up with an open discussion where various participants contributed ideas.

Tammy Bell, FHCCA Vice President, discussed the future of the Nonprofit Network and the benefits of joining as a member. There are some valuable resources that are offered for those who become members.

The meeting wrapped up with a discussion about shared resources among our nonprofits, led by Dori Wittrig, FHCCA President.

CLICK HERE to view the recorded retreat.

For questions about this network, please email us at iLoveFountainHills@gmail.com.


Does Your Nonprofit Have a Newsletter?

Does Your Nonprofit Have a Newsletter?


Does your Nonprofit organization send a regular newsletter?

A newsletter is one of the most important communication tools you have, and it probably won’t cost you a penny. With a newsletter, you show up in the inboxes of your audience and members, prompting them to make an easy connection with you regularly.


Open rates for newsletters sent from Nonprofits average 25%. That means if you send a newsletter to 100 people, you could get around 25 people to open it and read it. That doesn’t sound great, but it’s much higher than the 6% open rate that corporate emails get! That low percentage never stops them from sending emails and newsletters all the time!


How often should you send a newsletter? Mailchimp, one of the free newsletter companies (if you have under 2,000 subscribers) says that people are more inclined to open your emails if you send four per month rather than one per month. However, you have to find what makes the most sense for your organization. For example, FHCCA only sends a newsletter on the first day of every month. Occasionally, we’ll send an additional one mid-month if we have something important and timely to announce. This works for the way our organization operates and with the expectations of our membership. We average a 57.6% open rate, proving that this frequency works for our audience.


If you are going to take the time to put together a newsletter, it is important that you respect the time and attention your audience is going to give to them. These tips will help you create something they appreciate and enjoy:


Create content that your audience will appreciate. Help them get to know your organization better, give them a glimpse behind the scenes, share important news, give them links to relevant content, etc. Keep your paragraphs short and double and triple check for spelling (use Grammarly.com to help).


Some newsletters get away with not having any photos, but people are far more attracted to relevant photos. Your organization’s logo should always appear at the very top. Share photos of your volunteers, your leadership, your events. If you need to use stock photos, check out websites such as Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash for free images.

No silly cat memes…unless your organization’s name is Fearless Kitty! However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t inject humor…or even a meme. Just make sure that it is relevant to your organization and your audience.


People love videos. You can create your own videos on a smartphone, or make them professional quality if you have the means. You can even share relevant (that is the keyword) videos from YouTube. Don’t waste their time with videos that are not important to your message.


While you have your audience’s attention, be sure to give them ample opportunities to click over to your website. Share an important page, like how they can join, and provide a link. Create a blog post that you can talk about in your newsletter and share the link. You get the idea.


Many people look for these in your newsletter. They want to follow you on Facebook or Instagram. This gives you a chance to reach them as they scroll every day.


Only say what needs to be said in your newsletter. People have shorter attention spans than ever. If you have a blog post, write two sentences about it in your newsletter to pique their interest, then provide a link back to it if they want to read more. If you have numerous topics to cover, be sure to create a solid headline for each topic, or number them. Make it as easy as possible for people to read.


There are numerous newsletter platforms out there, so it’s important to do your homework and comparison shop. Constant Contact is a great resource, but there is a monthly membership fee. Mailchimp and others like it are free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers.

At this time, FHCCA uses Mailchimp. I’ll be honest and say that we tolerate Mailchimp simply because it is free. It has some frustrating limitations that probably exist so that you’ll decide to upgrade for a fee. It can also land in a lot of Junk boxes when sent to subscribers and there is nothing you can do about that. However, it meets our needs right now and allows us to communicate for free. Do your research to find what fits your needs.

Nonprofit Network

Nonprofit Network

Nonprofit Network

The origins for our Nonprofit Network reach back to 2019 as we brainstormed ways to bring together the local nonprofit leaders to network in a meaningful way. As we were trying some new things, the pandemic hit, and everyone was thrown into the world of the unknown.

We started getting an idea of the new challenges our friends in other nonprofits were facing, and the idea for a quarterly retreat solidified. We hosted our first one in September 2020 with a dozen local leaders. We shared the vision for the Nonprofit Network, explained FHCCA’s role in the community, and asked them to share their challenges and victories.

Our second retreat was held virtually in January 2021 with 24 participants. Here is what we shared:

  • Why your website is your most important marketing tool and how to treat it as such.
  • How to leverage social media for free marketing and greater exposure in the community.
  • How to communicate directly to your audience/members with a regular newsletter.
  • Why an event calendar on your website is so valuable and how you can sync it with Fountain Hills Live (soon to become Desert Vibe).
  • Why it’s crucial that you set up all these accounts with a general organization email instead of someone’s personal email.

The feedback we’ve received on this second retreat has been amazing. A couple of the organizations who have extensive experience in these areas also shared tips from what they have done, too.

If you are a leader or volunteer of a local nonprofit and you would like to attend our next retreat in April, please reach out to us at iLoveFountainHills@gmail.com.

We also have a separate section of this website dedicated to this program. CLICK HERE to learn more.

Winners of the 2021 Juried Art Show

Winners of the 2021 Juried Art Show

Juried Art Show 2021

We partnered with the Fountain Hills Art League to sponsor their 2021 Juried Art Show. Like everything else of the last ten months, it was a different experience this year, but the art that is submitted never fails to leave an impression.

The competition was judged by artist Julie Gilbert Pollard. You can see her great artwork HERE.

Here are the winners of this great event:


Antonia Lowden: Abstract Painting #1


1st Place: Lloyd Tarr with “Golden Glow”

2nd Place: Alan Magazine with “Giant Argentine Cactus”

Honorable Mention: Ken Lundgren with “Desert Paired”


1st Place: Joan Rand with “The Little Painter”

2nd Place: Marjorie Barritt with “Great Horned Owl”


1st Place: Kay Meyer with “Guatemalan Abuela”

2nd Place: Kay Meyer with “Head for the Hills”

Honorable Mention: Jackie Kinsberry with “Pods a Plenty”


1st Place: Mary Ann Grace with “For an Open Mind”

2nd Place: Carol Ofsthun with “Reflecting White Flowers”


1st Place: Shelly Hackett with “Diego”

2nd Place: Kari Hogden with “Hat with Flowers and Feathers”

Honorable Mention: Patricia Muscarello with “Prickly Pear”

Honorable Mention: Bonnie Schweihs with “Maya”


1st Place: Antonio Lowden with “Silent Observers”


1st Place: J. Rothenstein-Putzer with “Cityscapes-Downtown”

2nd Place: Lee Carlson with “Abundance”

Honorable Mention: Lee Carlson with “Twisted Sister”

Honorable Mention: Sandy Dionisio with “Beach, Seashells, and Waves”

For more information and to view the winning pieces, visit http://www.fountainhillsartleague.com/2021juriedshow/