This morning I am lucky enough to be able to enjoy some Christmas cookies with my morning coffee and think, for the first time this year, only about Christmas. For the last 2 months my thoughts have been wrapped up in so many things all at once; the biggest weight on my shoulders has been thinking of ways to organize a silent auction for the fundraiser I was currently working on. The cause is something very close to my heart and it always kind of has been, even as a young child. So I felt that with everything going on in my life, I wasn’t giving it enough time. That’s the way it goes, though; if it’s something you truly care about you never truly feel like you’ve given it enough of your time and energy.
This was my first year fundraising for the Tim Tebow Foundation’s Night to Shine prom. I volunteer my time every year, I attend as my Aunt’s date but fundraising was a new experience. I wanted to challenge myself. I reached out to a friend of mine that has been a fundraiser in years past for a cause close to her heart. I wanted to hear first hand what she had success with and what she would have done differently. She recommended hosting an event at a local martini bar. She raved about how hospitable they are for charitable causes. I considered it and reached out to the management a couple of weeks later. After a couple of weeks of playing phone and email tag we finally connected and decided that we would host it a couple of months later on December 15, to wrap up the fundraising.
That was it, I had an end date. I reached out to local businesses asking for donations for the silent auction. I was able to procure a couple of gift cards and a pretty cool “doggie basket” from our local pet store. There were a few businesses that were pretty closed-minded about anything with the word “donation” in it. I get it, times are tough for a small town but it’s pretty harsh to get that kind of reception when fighting for a cause you believe in. I reached out to the various artistic people in my circle of family for donations and each of them were happy to donate an original piece. I’d be lost without them!
Fast forward to the day of and wow… it’s here! I took the day off work to prepare and make last-minute runs to the store if I needed to. My aunt came out to help set up, thank heavens for her! She has a lot of experience with silent auctions, so I’d be lost without her help. We got to the restaurant set up and camped out for a couple of hours. At the end of the auction I only came home with a gift card for a group photography session, an unbought donated item. I had many family and friends come to the event, use our loyalty cards, purchase items for auction and at the end we made over $300 for our cause. There is no such thing as a failure if the money you raised, no matter how little, is going toward a worthwhile cause. That being said, I would have really loved if I had been able to generate more attendance.
Things I would do differently next time are as follows. I would generate the invite more than a week and a half ahead of time. I would actually send out paper invites, as well as Facebook invites. I might try to hit some bigger businesses for donated goods. And I would try much sooner to get in contact with the foundation for marketing materials. There were certain complications I couldn’t undo. The biggest being I had to have it on a Thursday night. The only way to get the room for free was to have it on a week night. It is close to the holidays. I feel like this worked both for us and against us. I might even research some social media strategies on how to get the most traction for your posts about nonprofit/ charity events.
I would not host my charity event anywhere else but where I hosted it this time around. Downtown Main was a 5 star facility with staff that exceeded my expectation. The generosity of the owner and manager left me speechless and warmed my heart. I couldn’t have been happier and I would really sincerely recommend them to anyone looking to host a benefit for a cause they believe in. While I don’t plan on fundraising next year, due to our wedding being next October, it is still on the table for me for 2018. By then, I may have a larger circle with the ability to pull more people in. Who knows where God intends for me to go? It’s funny how He works. I am so blessed to have so many creative and supportive people in my life that are so willing to support a cause that I hold so near and dear to my heart.
If there’s something you believe it, go for it. You can’t fail if God is on your side and even if you feel that your event is a flop it’s a success for someone. It’s a truly amazing feeling when you help others selflessly. Sometimes I think we all forget that helping others is at the core of our being.
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