Saturday, August 29, 2009

Auctions, blogs, and answers

I'm finally wrapping up the loose ends of the auctions. Most everyone has gotten their loot! And I would definitely call it a success! Thanks to all who contributed in whatever form you did! Thank you also to those that have been ever so patient as they wait on e-mails from me. Still tackling a bunch each day.

Through this process, I have gotten asked a lot of the same questions, so I thought I would share the answers here with you.


1. What made you decided to do this?
  • I wanted to help make an impact. I am not one to be apathetic or complacent with things I believe in. I'm also not one to join the thinking of "what difference can one person make?".

2. How did you think of doing an online auction?
  • I did not invent or dream up the idea. I have been following the blog of a mom of 6 in Iowa who adopted twins from Sierra Leone Africa. As you can imagine that was quite an expensive (and worth it!) adoption. To help fund the expenses, she used her blog to auction off some really cool items . I saw that people were willing to bid large amounts on these items because the money was going toward something they believed in.
  • I decided to try out the whole auction thing on my own blog . I wanted to raise money for a couple different things I strongly believe in. One was an organization called International Justice Mission. They rescue abused and oppressed people around the world including child sex workers and indentured slaves. They do amazing work using the legal system to bring justice to these oppressed people. The next "charity" was for family friends adopting twins from Uganda. Again, I wanted to help raise funds to get their sweet 5 years olds "home".
  • The auctions were fun, although done on a very small scale. The items for bid were mostly things I had made, or were handmade by friends. I thought the idea could work on a larger scale, but I didn't know if I had the means to take it to the next level. But I was willing to try.

3. How did you get the auction started, and how did you get donations?
  • I started with people I knew. I first listed our own 2 family owned businesses (ironically they are the only ones who didn't get bids I think!) I asked a friend who owns a Meal Swapping business if she would donate a delivered dinner. I thought if I could at least show the model of what the auctions would look like, then maybe more people would participate. Eddie Papa's was the first well-known local business I solicited. Eddie was fast to reply and was so generous, he really motivated me to keep trying. Before I knew it, people were contacting me to give donations! Before the first group of auctions even closed I was getting tons of e-mails from people who wanted to donate something. I sent out e-mails to everyone I knew in Pleasanton telling them about the auctions, and asked them to tell their friends and neighbors.

4. How did you do it all?
  • I'll be the first to admit that I had no idea how much this auction/blog would snowball and how big it would become. I also had no idea how much time it was going to take to keep it going. I quickly got in over my head. Another Pleasanton mom who was a complete stranger to me - Andrea Green stepped up to help me. She took the bull by the horns and started getting even more donations left and right. Which was awesome! But I was still swamped on the communications end. Every single auction listed took a massive amount of communication (mostly e-mails) to get. I did have some offers to help, and I fully anticipated taking up those offers. But in the end I felt like the amount of time it would take me to get someone else up to speed to help, was just not possible. So I have been doing most of the communications myself - which has meant a long lag time for responses sometimes =(.

5. Would you ever do this again?
  • I have jokingly told people that if I even considered doing this again, my husband would leave me! The real answer is - I might do it again, but definitely not in the same fashion. I learned A LOT in this process. I would consider doing something with a TEAM of people. I certainly can't handle trying to get donations, writing them up and photographing them, listing each one the blog, actually getting the items to store at my house, keeping track of who made donations, getting all the info from the winners, then delivering the items to the winners. And ALL the communications in between...which there is a lot of.

6. How did you keep track of who made donations for their items?
  • I worked closely with PPIE and PSEE to find out who made their donations for their auction items.

7. Were you happy with the results?
  • I was really blown away by the generosity by so many people. The variety of things that people came up with to auction off was truly amazing. Some of my favorites were services by P-Town teachers.
  • I also thought the bidders did a GREAT job of bringing the bids up! So many items went for more than their market value. Very cool.
  • I think my only disappointment was in the overall ILPS campaign, and how little came in to support the programs. While $14,000 was an impressive amount to raise, I knew it would be a drop in the bucket of the $2.8 mil we were aiming for. But I thought a lot more people were going to give just to give, and that my little auction would help be a gap filler and motivator.

8. What now?
  • First I will get every last bit of auction stuff done. Then I will focus my energy on what I love and care about. I have joined the PFC Board at Valley View this year, and hope to make a difference at my children's school. I will also continue to work on projects that speak to my heart - like helping to provide access to clean water to villages in Africa , feeding the hungry and caring for orphans . Sounds lofty right? But the truth of the matter is that what's a little bit to us, can go a looong way halfway around the world. And in my dreamiest of dreams, I hope to combine the two. I hope to bring a connection between our neighborhood, community and/or school and those suffering globally. As much as I believe in keeping Pleasanton schools top-notch and something to be proud of, I deeply desire to see our community reach out to those who are suffering. To those who not only don't have a school to go to, but don't even have their basic needs of food/water/shelter/medical care met. More than I want my kids to have low teacher/student ratios, reading specialists, counselors, and music, I want them to have compassion. I want them to see beyond themselves. And I want them to DO SOMETHING.
  • So you might still see some auctions, bake sales, and lemonade stands in my neighborhood. But the proceeds of these will hopefully be going to help those that are fighting for life.

Thanks to everyone again! Hope I answered all your questions!