Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Finding the Right Venue

Events are often held at locations other than hotels, conference centers, convention centers, and self-contained facilities. If you hold events in parks, festival or other similar locations, you need to bring in all the equipment and food for the events. You also need to comply with city ordinances. Here is a list of items that need to be considered as part of your planning process:

tables, chairs, stage
sound/video equipment
cooking equipment
eating utensils
waste/trash removal
alcohol sales/liquor permit
traffic control
street closures
public relations
ticket sales
lost and found
lost people
ADA access
accessible services
merchandise sales
volunteer staffing
first aid
emergency plan
kids area
public transportation
noise permits

The event facility may provide some of these components, but not always. Before you sit down with the site manager, prepare a list of questions or develop your own checklist. Be sure to get full contact information for all individuals who provide services you need. Some venues have lists of vendors that they prefer to work with or with which they have exclusive contracts. You can usually work directly with these vendors or ask the site manager to handle arrangements for you.

If the site does not have a preferred or exclusive vendor list, look into the catering companies first. Obtain at least three proposals. Ask them for referrals to other vendors.

Seeking Pledges? $500 in 10 Days

How to Raise $500 in 10 Days

Day 1 Put in your own $25 contribution $25
Day 2 Ask 2 merchants to donate $25 each $75
Day 3 Ask 4 family members for $25 each $175
Day 4 Ask 3 friends to donate $25 each $250
Day 5 Ask 2 teachers for $25 each $300
Day 6 Ask 5 co-workers for $10 each $350
Day 7 Ask 5 neighbors for $10 each $400
Day 8 Ask your supervisor for $25 $425
Day 9 Ask another 5 friends for $10 each $475
Day 10 Ask your significant other for $25 $500

Planning Food & Beverage

Here are some quick and simple tips for helping you to account for you food and beverage needs.

• There are 20 cups of coffee in a gallon. As a general rule, order 70% regular and 30% decaf.
• There should be one server for every 30 to 50 people.
• Host bar: the organization pays for the drinks.
• Cash bar: attendees pay for the drinks.
• On consumption: the organization pay for only what is consumed.
• Guarantee: The final number of people that you tell the facility/caterers that will be attending and will need a meal.
• One liter of liquor serves 22 drinks at 1 1/2 ounces per drink, or approximately 7-8 people.
• One bottle of wines fills 5 glasses.
• Calculate 2 drinks per person for a one-hour cocktail reception. Remember that most people discard of their glass before ordering their new drink.
• Have on hand bottled water, club soda, tonic water, soft drinks, fruit juices in addition to the alcohol behind the bar.

Working as a team on a silent auction.

So your company or your social group wants to help a non-profit with some auction donations but you've run out of ideas about what to donate. Here are a few themed basket ideas that might stir the juices on what individuals can contribute to create a great auction basket.

Recently a Portland company wanted to support an auction and held an auction basket drive. Each department selected a theme and individuals brought in something small to contribute to their theme basket. The knitting basket was my favorite. There was a cornucopia of yarn colors, needles sizes, patterns, even gift certificates for lessons. So get your company, your friends, your neighbors, your organization involved with supporting a benefit auction and put together a great basket. Here are some theme ideas.

Auction Basket Themes

Gourmet Gift Basket:
Items for the chef in the family. Gift certificates for cooking lessons, gourmet food items, cooking utensils, specialty baking dishes, or favorite cook books.

Book Lovers Gift Basket:
Everything for the book lover. Books, magazines, gift certificates, a reading light, bookmarks, a reading blanket, tea, mug.

Martini Gift Basket:
Vodka, gin, vermouth, cherries, olives, shaker, glasses, decorative sugars and a martini book.

Knitting Basket:
It's all the rage. Yarn, how to books, patterns, crochet hooks, needles, gift certificates for local knit shops for lessons or supplies.

Baby Basket:
Items for the new mom. Outfits, burp clothes, and blankets, baby books, stuffed animals, bottles, rattles, teething ring, sippy cup, gDiapers starter kit, Baby Einstein video.

Picnic Basket:
Blanket, books on hikes in the NW, service ware, bug spray, wine, gourmet snacks, tablecloth.

Romance Basket:
Wine, chocolate, champagne, glasses, candles, bubble bath, massage oil.

Craft Baskets:
Craft Supplies, scissors, ribbons, glue, glue gun, craft books, gift certificate for craft stores, apron, paint brushes, paints.

Italian Food Basket:
Pasta, sauce, olive oil, breadsticks, cookbook, wine, olives, capers, dried herbs, cheese grater, packaged gourmet food items.

Hardware Supply Basket:
Flash light, took kit, tool box, repair kit, measuring tape, level, set of wrenches, set of screwdrivers, tool belt, gift certificates.

Dog Lovers Basket:
Dog bed, toys, treats, grooming kit, bowls, leash, pet frame.

Margarita Basket:
Tequilla, salt, glasses, shot glasses, lime juice, limes, book, blender, sombrero.

Family Game Night Basket:
Games, dice, cards, mugs and coco, snacks, score pad, pen.

Movie Madness Basket:
Popcorn, gift certificates for Regal, Hollywood, Blockbuster, Netflix, classic movie collection, candy, soda, movie buff book.

Tea/Coffee Basket:
Tea, coffee, mugs, French press, tea pot, tea bags, tea diffuser, coffee canister, coffee scoop, biscuits or cookies, coffee cookbook.

Fitness Basket:
Yoga mats, videos, weights, yoga bag, fitness bands, gym membership, yoga classes, gym bag, water bottle, sweat towel, sports watch, t-shirt, socks.

Pamper Basket:
Lotions, bubble bath, candles, mellow music, loofah scrub, bath pillow, slippers, eye masks, face masks.

Garden Basket:
Gloves, tools, shears, knee pads, seeds, books, magazines, gift certificates, bulbs, hose attachment, solar lights, hummingbird feeder.

Bird House Basket:
Bird House, seed, suet, bird books, humming bird feeder, binoculars.

Car Care Basket:
Car wash gift certificates, car care wipes, sponges, shammy, soaps, air freshener, gift certificates for service.

Music Lovers Basket:
CD’, iPod, iTunes card, music store gift certificates, Rock N Roll history book, concert tickets.

Writers Basket:
Pens, stationary, journals, inkwell, notecards.

Breakfast Basket:
Pancake mix, scone mix, syrup, coffee, tea, mugs, spatula, dish towels, dried fruit, nuts, cook book, waffle iron, egg timer, egg cups, oatmeal, grapefruit spoon, juicer.

Home Makeover Basket:
Painting tape, edger, paint brushes, home improvement books, Home Depot gift cards.

Pinot Noir Wine Basket:
Selection of Oregon Pinot Noirs, wine tour, Pinot wine glasses, wine book, wine club.

Children’s Book Basket:
Children's books under 3-6 years old, collection of classic and new books, a library starter.

BBQ Night:
NW Natural Grill with BBQ sauces, brushes, tool kit, BBQ planks, chef apron, BBQ book, gourmet rubs.

Kids' Toys Basket:
Summer fun for the whole family. Games, toys, and a fun toy box or wagon to haul them around in. Everything you need for a summer of fun.

Scrapbooking Basket:
Preserve family memories with everything you need for a scrapbooking fan. Books, stickers, scissors, hole punches, and all of the extra touches.

Mojito Summer Party Basket:
Rum, mint, sugar, glasses, pitcher, everything for a summery refreshing drink.

Herb Garden Basket:
Fill a gardening basket with starts for a kitchen herb garden. Include mint, rosemary, thyme, basil, cilantro, chocolate mint, lavender, sage, parsley, oregano, garlic, chives. Throw in some extra help with a herb garden resource book, trowel, sheers, and garden gloves.

Ducks Fan:
Everything green. Tickets to the game, Ducks t-shirts, pom poms, bumper stickers.

Beavers Fan:
Everything orange, game tickets, athletic wear, fan gear, souvenirs.

Gourmet Pizza Party:
Pizza cookbook, pizza stone, pizza cutter, and lots of gourmet ingredients. Olives, olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, throw in a bottle of red wine.

Interview with Auctioneer Kelly Russell - PART 1

Kelly Russell is a professional auctioneer who has specialized in the benefit auction industry since 2004. Kelly is an energetic performer who is comfortable in front of audiences of all sizes and enjoys interacting with bidders. Today we ask her a few questions:

Non-profits never have enough time, money or people to tackle every potential aspect of a fundraising event so in an effort to work smarter, not harder what one piece of advice would you give to a staff coordinator about what to focus their energy on?

I would recommend that an auction chair focus their energy on the Special Appeal. The Special Appeal should be the highest revenue producing item of the night. If you strategically plan your appeal you will yield better monetary results on the night of your auction. This money is also 100% tax deductible and therefore a “win” for the donor and a “win” for the non-profit.

Start by identifying your fundraising goal. Then approach potential donors for pre-committed donation that you can leverage at your event. Ask them to provide a leadership gift for the event that will be recognized from the stage. This process will ultimately allow you to maximize or exceed your goal, as well as provide a challenge for your guest during your special appeal.

What was the most creative auction package you ever auctioned off?

One of my favorite packages I auctioned off for a school was the opportunity to go on a Mushroom Picking Excursion. You and your family were invited to caravan out towards the Oregon Coast to pick Chanterelle Mushrooms with another family from the school. They would show you the best mushroom hunting grounds in October, when the season was at its peak. They also included a cookbook with their favorite mushroom recipes, and homemade curly willow walking sticks. The best part, was there was no cost (outside of the gas to get to the coast) involved on this package. It was fun, creative, unique, and generated about $500 for the school.

You do so many non-profit events what makes the difference between a good auction and a bad auction?

You should really cater the event to fit your audiences’ preference (Is it a gala attire, cocktail attire, or pizza & beer in a gymnasium event?) Build your event around the desired style and make sure it has the FUN factor. If you have an event that is upbeat, energetic, and your guests are having a great time, the money will follow. Try not to let your event be bogged down with too many speakers and videos. Keep it light, with sound-bytes about your organization. You do have an opportunity within the welcome to let your guests know who you are, and describe your mission…just be brief (under 3 minutes).

The most successful Auctions are carefully planned out. They are scripted and all parties involved in the script are rehearsed. They are also FUN…(who wants to go to a boring event?) so go out and make your auction the Party of the Year. Your guests will be talking about your auction until the next years event!

For booking information please contact at 503.734.7287

Auction Procurement Worksheet

Auction procurement can be as easy as a few phone calls to good friends. Cut out the cold calls and identify key targets.

Think about the following questions with the following people in mind:

1. Do I know someone who owns their own business and can donate a service or a gift certificate? Restaurant, retail store, cleaning service, garden landscape, legal advise, spa or massage services, yoga instructor, etc?

People I can contact for these:
Friend: _________________________________________________
Family Member: _________________________________________
Business Colleague: ______________________________________

2. Do I know someone who travels a lot or works in the travel industry that can donate air miles, hotel stays, or travel services?

People I can contact for these:
Friend: _________________________________________________
Family Member: _________________________________________
Business Colleague: ______________________________________

3. Do I know someone with a vacation home or timeshare willing to donate a stay in their cabin, beach home, vacation rental, timeshare, etc.

People I can contact for these:
Friend: _________________________________________________
Family Member: _________________________________________
Business Colleague: ______________________________________

4. Do I frequent a place of business that would be willing to donate a gift certificate? Favorite restaurant, hair salon, spa, grocery store, boutique, café, tea or coffeehouse?

People I can contact for these:
Friend: _________________________________________________
Family Member: _________________________________________
Business Colleague: ______________________________________

5. What can you donate to the auction? Are you a service provider? Are you an artist? Do you have a collection of wine you can donate from?

You got them to the event, now how to you engage them?

Increasing Funds at an Event:

1. In tight economic times you may see less money coming in from corporate sponsorships and single ticket sales. People at both ends of the spectrum are getting a little more cautious in their spending, but we are not seeing a drop in table hosts yet. Identify key leaders in the community and ask them to commit early to being a table host. The earlier people are talking about it the better.

2. Get people to turn out. Make sure you are talking about the event long in advance of the event. The more people hear about it, the more likely they are to show up. Cross-promote with key partners in the community.

3. Identify key relationships in the community that can become coalition partners. Ask them to support your event and bring like-minded donors and in turn you support their event. It becomes a win-win for everyone.

4. Don't let the economy effect your special appeal giving. Creating compelling challenges and solicitations are very important. Identify your key speaker early and then train them, prep them, and educate them about their role at the event. Use a video if possible and identify a strong compelling message. Turn to granting organizations and major donors to identify challenge gifts.

5. Silent auctions are all the rage. Increase your procurement efforts to have a really compelling and exciting silent auction. Think about folks who like to shop and give at the same time, it becomes a really easy way to increase your revenue at the event.

Raising Money in a Soft Economy

Engaging Donors and Sponsors:

1. Person-to-person contact is becoming more important than ever. People give to other people, not to organizations. The value of “face time” can be the difference between a yes and a no.

2. Identify a key contact for individual outreach and set up coffee meetings, lunch meetings, and small gatherings to discuss the organization, the mission, and the current fundraising effort.

3. Let it be known that you are fundraising. If people don’t know that you need to raise money, they will not give. Donors are getting a little tighter on their giving and are investing their resources where they think it will make the biggest impact. If they don’t think you need it in order to sustain, they won’t give.

4. Donors are increasing direct service giving. In a down economy the work of direct service organizations becomes very important. Take the time to educate your donors about how you are a part of the solution.

Saturday Takes on Wednesday

What day of the week are you holding your fundraising event? Are you stuck on a Saturday and competing with other activities and events around town? Consider the benefits of another day of the week.

Monday Events
Do you work in the art and theatre community? Do you have a large demographic of supporters who are a part of the art and theatre community? Then Monday might be a great solution. Monday is traditionally a dark day in the theatre and by having an event then it can open up access to celebrity hosts, performers, and theatre goers.

Mid-Week Events
Does your event have a short program and remain under 3 hours in length? Then why compete with the rest of the Saturday events around town? Consider something mid-week. Lunch events work great mid-week. If you are trying to draw a working demographic on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday you might get the best turn out as opposed to a Monday or Friday event which often get folded into people's weekend time. Have something mid-week and you could get better numbers since folks are already at work anyway and there isn't the Friday lure of a weekend to compete with.

Friday Events
However there are some times when Fridays can really help you out. In the spring in Portland it is estimated that there are 13-15 benefit auctions every Saturday. So narrow the competition for yourself and encourage your guests to start their weekend with your event by having it on Friday. They'll still have their Saturday and Sunday, and so will you. Sometimes by Saturday evening, especially on those nice sunny days, it can be challenging to get folks to come inside and get dressed up!

Sunday Events
There are specific formats where you can give your guests a great end to their weekend with a Sunday event. Sundays can be a great day for afternoon or early-evening events.

In addition to possibly increasing your attendance numbers, selecting other days of the week might score you some sweet rental deals with your venue!

Melody Ballroom - Venue Highlight

3 Spaces
Blue Heart Lounge - Small Bar / Reception Area (Standing 85/Seated 50)
Lower Ballroom - Speakeasy Style Ballroom with Small Stage (Standing 400/Seated 250)
Grand Ballroom - Large Ballroom with Grand Stage (Standing 800/Seated 500)
Parking - Street

The Melody Ballroom is a privately-owned historic ballroom in SE Portland that offers three event spaces. The ballroom is currently undergoing a renovation that includes new green options, kitchen, hardwood floors, and an overall spruce up.

The luxury of this venue is the partnership that you have when working with Kathleen and her staff. Together they will help you to keep the focus on fundraising while working with you to manage budget needs and get creative on food and beverage service. The rental of the venue includes all of your table and chair needs plus access to their linen supply and other in-house resources.

The downstairs venue is great for an intimate evening or a starting place with a silent auction and cocktail party. The upstairs ballroom is their main ballroom and offers a large proscenium stage with seating for 500.

So if you need flexibility this venue might be a great choice.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010 New Services


We’ve heard you and have added some new services to help you reach your goals:

Auction 101—This training program is great for staff and volunteers. We’ll go through planning step-by-step with ideas about how to choose a theme, find the right venue for your crowd and budget, procure items for your auction, manage your database, create an effective run of show, secure sponsorships, and set your event up to be an annual success story for years to come.

Event Assessment—We’ll attend your event and give you a detailed assessment, offering opportunities to raise more money, places that processes can be streamlined, and ways to cut costs so that more of what you raise goes back to your organization.

Onsite Database Staffing—Are you tired of long lines and frustrated guests? Looking to simplify your check-in, data management, checkout, and reconciliation? We will provide a trained staff the night of your event to make sure everything runs smoothly for you and your guests.

Development Coaching—Does your development staff need some new ideas? Looking to diversify your income? Need some time to refocus and get creative? Our team of development and fundraising professionals can help train you and your staff in every area of fundraising including: database training, donor outreach, sponsorship solicitation, annual fund campaigns, direct mail campaigns, business plans, event planning, major donor mapping, fundraising assessment, and executive coaching.