Real Event Planning: Family Weekend Silent Auction, Stage 1

I've decided to combine yesterday and today's posts into one, since I did essentially the same thing on both days. I've been hard at work organizing the first few steps of the Family Weekend Silent Auction that I am hosting this fall. The event is one of my philanthropy events, and all of the proceeds from the auction will benefit the Sigma Kappa Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of our sorority. Planning such an event takes a great amount of organization. I've created a timeline and a list of tasks that I know I must stick to if I want to make it successful. Here's a quick, simplified version of the timeline (without the corresponding dates) that I've made:

  1. Set time, date, and location
  2. Determine how I want the day of the event to "flow"
  3. Create an organized list of potential vendors
  4. Share event details with my advisors and gain approval
  5. Register the event online
  6. Make initial contact with vendors, follow up, and secure the donation
  7. Insert all donation descriptions into an Excel sheet
  8. Send letters to parents informing them of the details of the event
  9. Brainstorm and craft all design details
  10. Send initial event forms to Nationals 2 weeks prior to the event
  11. Promote the event on campus
  12. Set up and host event
  13. Contact all basket winners to notify them of their prize
  14. Insert all final details into the Excel sheet
  15. Send updated forms to Nationals

Yes, I realize I said it was a quick timeline but that it consists of 15 points. However, all of them are necessary! Thus far, I've completed steps 1 through the first part of step 6.

Since there were numerous vendors on my potential list of places to contact, I knew I could not tackle contacting all of them on my own. Luckily, I have some sisters/friends who are living on campus this summer who offered to help me out!

I divided the list into a few different sections. I decided to personally contact the vendors in Greensboro, at the Tanger Outlets in Mebane, and some of the vendors in Elon. My friends Hannah and Lizzie said that they would contact the stores in Alamance Crossing, and my friend Maritza agreed to contact the remaining stores near Elon! I'm so incredibly thankful for their help.

Inside the envelopes, I included a letter that details the purpose of the event, what we are asking of the vendors, what the event benefits, and my contact information. I divided the letters into two groups- one that contains vendors that donated last year, and one that contains vendors that either could not donate last year or that we did not solicit last year, but would like to this year.

I also included a document that provided a more detailed list of what each vendor donated last year as a reference for what type of gift we are expecting/prefer to receive this year. Finally, I put a sheet of loose leaf paper in each envelope with a table asking each sister to list which vendors she contacted and what their response was. I have also created a Google Doc with a more specific table that I have asked the girls to upload this information into, so that everyone can see the progress we are making.

Today was a great start in the soliciting process. I contacted many of the vendors on my list, and received positive responses from the majority of them. I already received gift cards from two vendors! The other stores either said that they would discuss it with their boss/manager and contact me shortly, or said that they must send my letter to their corporate headquarters for review. This was precisely what I expected from an initial contact.

All of the vendors were pleased that I was starting the process so early (the event is not until September 30th, and I have requested that all vendors let me know if they are donating items by August 13th so I can begin making the baskets far in advance). It is always smart to start as early as you can when you are contacting vendors or sponsors, because they typically need at least two to three weeks notice to determine if they can fit a donation into their monthly/quarterly budget.

I'm beyond thrilled with the outcome of today, and I cannot wait to see what awesome items we have to place in the baskets for our Silent Auction this year! Now I'm going to sit back and eat some Sweetie Tea ice cream with fresh peaches (yes, you heard that right! Thank youuu Front Porch ice cream for this awesome flavor) and watch TV before going to bed. Night all!