Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Read for Life Gala

After months of preparation, the Gala has finally came and gone. Before working at a non-profit, I would have never of guessed what a Gala entailed or the amount of work that goes into large fundraisers. Our Gala was titled "The Read for Life Gala" and we choose a very special person in the community to honor for their amazing work and effort, especially in areas of literacy. Our particular Gala is a silent auction with hundreds of goodies that are available to bid on...well to get all those goodies, some extra work had to be done.
In October we mailed out over 5,000 donation letters to companies, organizations and individuals asking for anything that we could use in our silent auction. Once the letters were received, it didn't take long to start getting items in the mail.
And oh my goodness....the goodies came in like crazy!! Trips, gift certificates, hotel stays, LASIK surgery, jewelry, paintings, etc. We had gotten over $40,000 worth of amazing things that we used in our Gala. It was my job to build a metrics in Excel and document every detail about the items that came in so we could have a master list to refer to and to make package making even easier. Package making? Well at the auction, we start the bids at half the value of the product. Some items are large enough to stand alone but others needed to be paired with other things to make the package more exciting. So the package making comes into play when multiple items have to be paired together to make the items more valuable and pleasing to the eye. We ended up with 115 packages....ridiculously crazy!! People can be very generous when they know a very grateful non-profit will be benefiting from their kindness.
Once we got the packages built in Excel, then we physically had to put the items together, in a bag or box, label them and store them until the big day. Here is our computer lab full of packages...it even spilled out into our conference room.
The day before the event, we delivered all the packages to the location and put them in their storage rooms. The Gala event location was at an old chuch that had been remodeled into a higher end restaurant. It was beautiful...there was stain glass windows and antique styled light fixtures!
Thursday morning, bright and early, we had to set up for the auction that was taking place later that night. We had volunteers from all over the community that helped set up the auction...thank goodness for all the willing help! Many hands make light loads!
After all the auction items and packages were set out, then all the last minute details had to be taken care of before the "fun" started. Here is a sample of some of the auction... This Gala was the organization's 10th annual and through all the years, the community has generously given close to a MILLION dollars! To celebrate this being the 10th year, a cake was donated to make the event a little more special. The cake couldn't have been more appropriate! He made the bottom cake in the shape of a book and then the other cakes were gifts. We are giving gifts everyday when we help someone learn to read and better themselves!
Once people started arriving and bidding on packages, we knew all our hard work paid off. The Gala went off without a glitch, at least no glitches that couldn't be fixed.
The Read for Life Gala this year was a success! The Council was able to raise $70,000 through the fundraiser this year! That's amazing! People are so giving when they know the great work that will be done with their money.

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