The Mountain Ranch Youth Alliance and Resource Center is currently running an online auction with us and has two stays at the Hotel Leger up for bid. The Hotel Leger is a historic hotel located in Mokelumne Hill, CA that will be featured on the Travel Channel’s show, Hotel Impossible. The show revitalizes hotels that are not reaching their full potential and are in need of some expert help.
Hotel Leger’s revamping was a truly special one as it called for over 200 local volunteers to step in to help. Donna Vial, auction administrator for the Mountain Ranch Youth Alliance and Resource Center, was one of those volunteers. She lent a helping hand by painting for several days for 4-6 hours stretches, and also by answering phones in the hotel's office. When I spoke with her she described the experience as creating: “A real feeling of community with so many friends and everyone working together with such lighthearted, helping moods. It was a very uplifting experience. Energy was high. Volunteers worked into the wee hours of the night. Everyone banded together “ Donna was also an especially popular volunteer as she brought beer for the workers! She explained to me that: “Moke Hill (as the locals call it) is a very small community and is known for its cohesiveness. It is really in the spirit of the community to help one another however and whenever they can.”
Hotel Impossible’s Anthony Melchiorri was giving the manager of the hotel guidance on how to revitalize the hotel, but the volunteers were needed to make that vision a reality, and to preserve an important historical landmark that was in financial trouble. With the help of the volunteers the hotel was only closed for a short period of time and business has already improved greatly! Business will no doubt continue to flourish when the Hotel Impossible episode airs in early 2013.
Mountain Ranch Youth Alliance and Resource Center is helping to support a very small, rural community community with a very high unemployment and under employment rate. The Resource Center provides food, clothing, wifi, computers, and classes. Classes range from social media to healthy eating and cooking. They are working to expand the organization to include a community garden of about 5,000 sq ft , and also to have a medical and dental clinic. They offer a number of events ranging from a Holiday Home Tour to a Murder Mystery dinner as well.
So here’s your chance to support a great cause and to win a stay at a hotel that will be featured on the Travel Channel. A fun fact about the hotel is that is believed to be haunted! If you are a winner of one of these hotel stays you may walk away with your own ghost stories to tell…you’ll also be helping a great organization.
Best Practices for your Interns, Volunteers and fundraising Auctions
I recently had the chance to speak with Robbie Samuels, Senior Manager of Events and Donor Engagement at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), about intern and volunteer engagement. We also talked about how to successfully run a fundraising auction for your nonprofit. Robbie has managed 12 silent auctions over the last seven years and has raised amounts ranging from $15K in 2005 to $30K in 2012. Nice job, Robbie!
This blog post will focus on some ideas and best practices he uses with his interns and volunteers to maximize the effectiveness of GLAD’S auctions.
- Learn what it means to be a supervisor. “Raise the bar on your expectations and interns will meet or exceed it.” When interns and volunteers get strong training, know where to go for questions, and are given the opportunity to solve problems, they help build a strong auction team. Treat them as employees and invite them to department meetings and staff events whenever possible. Inclusion helps them understand the bigger picture of your organization’s mission.
- Invest time in training your interns and volunteers. Robbie chooses to spend more time on training and mentoring his interns and volunteers rather than building a large auction committee. Over the years, he has had anywhere from a .5 FTE (full time equivalent) intern to 1.5 FTE interns working for a minimum of 6 months prior to the auction. Look for the combination that is right for your organization.
- Find great auction items. A key component of any auction is the items. Aside from taking note of items auctioned at local charity events, Robbie suggests spending some time having interns and volunteers canvas local businesses in teams of two. He arms them with an auction donor request letter on his letterhead for them to hand out, with a reply form on the back. Another great idea is to make sure your team wear t-shirts from your organization while out on the streets!
- Send an introductory email before approaching businesses. Robbie schedules two large canvassing days, a month apart, and emails businesses a week before he plans to visit, and then again a day before. This approach allows the business to think of what they can offer. He says that sometimes he will walk into a business and they will already have an auction item waiting for him.
- Don’t be afraid to look far and wide for interns and volunteers. Robbie has recruited from Northeastern University, GLAD’s website, and from the community via Craigslist. In fact, Robbie volunteers himself, organizing a well-established Meetup group called Socializing for Justice (http://www.sojust.org). It is a wonderful resource for local internships, jobs, volunteers and networking events.
Robbie is always full of great advice and ways to do things better. He reminds us to not limit ourselves to only local community resources for auction donations. Put together great travel packages by soliciting a hotel stay, restaurant gift cards, tickets to a cultural attraction and/or spa services. Robbie has found that businesses are more willing to donate if they know they’re going to be part of a package, so be sure to mention that in your letter.
Robbie Samuels utilizes his extensive event planning and fundraising experience to improve upon GLAD’s successful annual events. As development’s liaison he engages with donors motivated by GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project. Robbie co-organizes Socializing for Justice (http://www.SoJust.org), a grassroots group he co-founded in 2006 to build a cross-cultural, cross-issue progressive community, network and movement in Boston based on the philosophy of abundance. He also provides trainings on the Art of the Schmooze, Fundraising: Getting Past the Fear of Asking, QPR: Suicide Prevention for Community Leaders, and Intercultural Awareness. He holds a BA and an MSW from SUNY Stony Brook. Learn more about him at www.robbiesamuels.com.
This week in philanthropy, we will view giving back as more than a kind act, but as a love story that has spanned seven decades and remains steady and strong today.
Herbert Irving didn’t think that as the Sysco Corporation, a vendor for food service providers, grew, it would give him the opportunity to dive into philanthropy. He was able to give back to the hospital that has helped him and his wife of 70 years, Florence Irving, continue on in their 75-year-old love story. In a piece written by Melanie Grayce West for The Wall Street Journal, Herbert, Sysco co-founder and former vice chairman, explains that he and Florence have given nearly $200 million to the Columbia University Medical Center during the last several years because they were “very poor once, and we wanted to help.”
On June 4, Columbia University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia announced that the Irvings gave another gift of $40 million to support the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. The couple, now in their 90s, is reportedly Columbia University Medical Center’s leading benefactors. At BiddingForGood, we are big believers that contributing toward social good is big business and think it is important for successful business people to do their part.
The Irvings were married in the Depression years and money was hard to come by. Americans today are also suffering as a result of the Great Recession and corporate charitable giving is down. According to the annual Corporate Giving Standard Survey by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, the median level of corporate giving was $24.4 million in 2011, down from $24.6 million in 2010. Dan Kadlec of TIME, writes that 68 percent of corporations have increased their giving, nearly half by more than 10 percent. They’re doing so by giving larger gifts to fewer causes, matching gifts given by their employees and by giving internationally.
Within the U.S., charities in 30 cities were ranked by Charity Navigator, a company that works to guide intelligent giving. Houston took the No. 1 spot on the list, their overall performance judged through the inclusion of program expenses, donor privacy and total expenses. Check out who else made the top 10 in this slideshow from The Huffington Post.
If you’re interested in doing a little charitable giving yourself, we have thousands of items up for bid on our website. Don’t forget that Father’s Day is just around the bend. Here's a chance to give back and give Dad something he will love.
I want to share a story with you. This story happens to be one of my favorites as it relates to how all things are intertwined.
Just two years ago, I was perusing my daily search of BiddingForGood media mentions when I came across a blog called Pink Warrior Posterous. The author, Jan Allen, was a woman who was in the midst of a battle with breast cancer. She had written a post about how her husband, Scott had just given her a gift that he purchased on BiddingForGood. That gift, a trip to the American Music Awards with a VIP party, had two parts. One part was her wedding anniversary present. The other part was reaching the finish line to her radiation treatments. She finished her radiation in October 2010 and happily attended the America Music Awards the next month.
Since then, Jan has started to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation. In February of 2011, she went for her one year follow-up appointment and while she was waiting for her oncologist, she saw a flyer for Susan G. Komen. She read about all the money they had raised and about the 8 major recent developments in breast cancer research that they had funded. Out of the 8 developments, 6 of them had personally benefitted Jan. She thought, “I need to be doing this for people in the future.” That night she saw a commercial for the San Diego 3 Day Walk for a Cure (60 miles). She went on to raise $3,700 to participate and just one year from her battle, she crossed the 60 mile finish line. Part of her unique experience with the walk was that the route took her past her chemo center where she had done all her treatments. She told me that she “was walking for all the people inside.”
When I asked Jan if there was any advice she would give to women currently battling breast cancer, she said, “Try to keep a positive outlook and surround yourself with positive and supportive people.” She added, “Take this time to take care of you and make yourself a priority.” Women often forget (me included) that we can’t take care of anyone else properly if we don’t take care of ourselves. Jan says, “Always put your health first.”
Volunteering is important to Jan. She explains, “You never know when it is going to affect your family. Breast cancer crosses all cultural boundaries and there are communities that are in need of awareness.” Volunteering is not only important to Jan, but to her family as well. Her husband, Scott, attended the Susan G. Komen orientation so he too, could volunteer. Jan’s kids, Savannah, 16 and Zack, a freshman at Ohio University, will both be volunteering this summer for Susan G. Komen in the Santa Monica Office.
There are many ways to get involved with the Komen Foundation. One of them is by shopping on BiddingForGood in Komen’s online fundraising auctions. Jan and her husband Scott have been loyal customers of BiddingForGood for years and use it as a place to shop for unique gifts…like tickets to the American Music Awards. It is nice to see how much cross-over there is between our nonprofit clients, our customers and our socially responsible efforts.
This story has come full circle. And so has Jan. She is currently the Volunteer Orientation Chairperson at Susan G. Komen in Los Angeles.
If anyone would like to volunteer at Susan G. Komen or would like more info, please visit www.komen.org.