Sunday, July 10, 2011

Weighing it all up

Last night was the 5th Annual Starry Night Art Auction.........

Every year I say never again........ and yet the show goes on....

It takes a tremendous amount of effort to put on this event.  The staff work with the children for months to produce the art.  The small (ever smaller) committee and I works for months to get donations for raffle and silent auction items.  Tickets are printed, flyers created, the hotel and catering are booked, power point created, bid sheets printed, the flowers and lights borrowed and bought, the musicians booked, programs printed etc etc...

My hardworking son - what a helper!

A car load of art!
 By the day before the whole show is pretty much ready to be moved onsite, unpacked, staged and we're a go.  The set-up at the hotel takes about 3-4 hours depending on how many people are helping (and more doesn't necessarily mean faster as it turns out).

The doors open and I hold my breath........ will anyone come, will they bid on the art, will they buy raffle tickets......?????

Room Ready!

Twinkling lights, flowers, art and bid sheets!

Some of the LIVE auction pieces


Well come they did..... it was busy early and lots of the children came.  Children who behave so well at daycare are suddenly running around and behaving.....not well..... but we always have this debate about whether or not to make it child friendly or keep it a more adult event?   This year we started earlier to help some families who have no choice but to bring their children but it was a little chaotic.  Fortunately I have the "Boss" voice down pat so I set a few children and their parents straight about appropriate behaviour. Ha ha!

The room was full quickly and there was quite a buzz.  Several of our staff came and many parents and some grandparents, friends and folks from the ECE community in Richmond.  A couple of hotel guests wandered in too.

It was my sense early on that the bidding was slow and low and that the raffle ticket prices were too low....... so I gave a couple of people immunity to bid some items up.....and that helped.  For some of our families the whole notion of a silent auction is foreign and to some it is an affront to have to buy their child's painting....we have tried many ways to communicate that in this one large fundraiser each year we try to cover the costs of all our art supplies and that by doing this event (if we make enouigh money) we can keep fees lower. 

The LIVE auction was very slow and again, in hindsight, everyone was waiting for the gorgeous Jodie Blaney piece which was last up.....if we had done it sooner maybe people would have bid on the other stuff more.......?  Who knows......  Allan was bidding for a parent who had left his bid with us so it looked like we got the Jodie Blaney but alas it was for someone else.
LIVE piece #1 - By 3-5 year olds and their teacher

The Jodie Blaney that isn't going to hang in my home!

I guessed the total before we left last night and in calculating it today I was pretty close.  Our ticket prices covered our costs for the event and the art / silent auction / raffle made just under $5000.00. 

While that will certainly largely cover our art supplies for the coming year it is well short of the amounts we have made in past years (which always included one family making a $1000 - $1500 donation but their child is in school now).  I think we also learned that the silent auction of prizes makes far more money than the raffle and we will do more of that next year ........

But as I learned early on in this job - non-profit fundraising has to be about more than the money or you will always be disappointed.  And it's true...... this event gives parents and staff a great night out for $10/ticket....... it strengthens parent to parent  and parent to staff connections in a social setting (mostly without kids) and also gives the SRCC (Society of Richmond Children's Centres) a bit of sophistication and cache.  Our fellow operators who came were very impressed and that is good for our reputation in the community.

So was it worth it...... for my aching feet and hours of work..... for all the volunteer hours spent, for all the supplies and resources used and for the supporters and donors???  I think it was...... and I do believe we will do it all again next year!

So many thanks to so many people for all their help - my co-workers, the children, my Board, the Fundraising committee, the Delta Vancouver Hotel workers, my son David and the lady at Reitmans who convinced me to try on a dress that I think worked very well........

Now off to the beach to watch the sun set in hopes of capturing a bit of this weekend for recreation.

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