I’ve grown up doing community service. In high school, I volunteered with a variety of organizations. In college, I danced 120 hours for Dance Marathon. My mom raises money for The Bridge. My grandfather has raised more money than I can count. However, I had never tried to actually organize my own fundraiser before.
As Mike and I started to work towards our Summit for Someone goal of $6,000, we realized that we were going to need a way to kick off our fundraising in the community. That’s when we decided on having a Summit Party. See, we’re on the East Coast. There are no Big City Mountaineer groups out here, so few people know about the organization. We decided to have a Summit Party to officially kick off our efforts (in addition to the mass emails, constant pandering on FaceBook, and pleas to relatives) and rally folks around us. This idea brought with it some challenges, and about $2,000 in the end.
Lesson One: Location
Lucky for us, we had Cal at Cafe Zelda’s. We like to hang out there anyways, so why not ask about having a party. The owners are tremendous people. They gave us drink specials ($3 beer and $4 wine) and offered to put some appetizers out when a crowd showed up. We just had to pick a week night for the event. What more could you ask for?
Lesson Two: Promotions
Mike created an Evite as well as an 11×17 poster that we plastered around town. We probably hung more posters than necessary because he accidentally printed 100 copies instead of 11. Oh well. We sent out weekly email invites for about a month leading up to the event, wrote about it on our blogs, and harassed people on FaceBook.
Lesson Three: Auction
This may or may not have been the best plan. See, an auction works great if there’s a large crowd. Problem was, we didn’t actually get a large crowd. Our friends generously bought some of the items, but we didn’t bring in the amount that we would have hoped. It all seemed good in theory.
The Big Lesson:
So, we didn’t have the crowd that we would have liked. In fact, the night itself only brought in about $700. However, advertising and promoting the event gave us a rallying point. All of the people who couldn’t come, made donations. In fact, many of my colleagues from school (I teach at a PS-8th grade school) as well as out-of-town friends generously contributed since they couldn’t come. In reality, we made more money from them than we did those in attendance. All in all, we raised about $2,000 from the process of the event.
All things told, having a Summit Party was definitely of benefit, though not how we had envisioned. Any fundraiser definitely helps to rally the local community around the cause, and is a great way to get the word out about Summit for Someone and BCM. Next time, I’ll have some better ideas about how to pull it off.