Monday, September 28, 2009

Almost There

Only a day and a half to the big event- can you imagine it is finally almost here? I can't really. I don't know what I'm going to do when I don't have auction items to keep following up on. Just kidding- I have a million things that I'm behind on because I've been paying so much attention to our events. Today, I was working on our bid sheets- they are almost done, I still have the sports items left to do and a few others. I'm a little worried because one big ticket item still hasn't arrived. I spoke to the business on Monday and was assured it was coming before our event, so it should be fine, I just wish it was here already. There is one other item that was promised and I haven't received. I spoke with them last week and they said they were sending out the gift certificate last week. It doesn't take that long for a certificate to arrive from the Boston area, so I don't think that will be in the auction. It is annoying though because I have them listed in our program as a donor. It is pretty crappy behavior to promise an auction item and then never deliver. It was small item, so it won't have much impact, but it was still a nice item to include and every dollar raised is important to us.

Today, I picked up some other cool items- 4 tickets to the Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra (I have never been to a show, but I've always heard people raving about it, so I'm determined to go this year), a $100 Hannaford Supermarket gift card and another $50 one for the raffle, a lovely sewing box and gift certificate and tonight I picked up our Trader Joe's gift bag. Natalie finished our program, it would have been printed today, except that I forgot someone on the donor list and had to wait until Natalie got home to add it in. Tomorrow, I will pick up the programs, pick up our beautiful cake at Konditor Meister, write my speech, finish the bid sheets (I was going to finish them after I blogged, but my eyes are really tired), and tomorrow I'll send some last minute reminders and make some calls to keep reminding people about our event. We are looking OK for attendance, I heard today from some people who I didn't think were coming, but they are. If everyone shows up who has said they would and if people bring the friends they said they would, then we should be OK. I'm really nervous about everything, but I'm trying to stay calm and stayed focused on getting everything taken care of so we can have a smooth and successful event.

Be sure to check out my friend and Project Smile board member, Michelle's blog. I just put a link to it on my blog. Michelle's blog is about supporting a non profit- Project Smile! She is working hard to expand Project Smile in the New Hampshire area. It is a cool blog, so please be sure to keep checking it out.

Well friends, I'm off to bed. It was funny- I ended up going back to work after I finished blogging the last time and didn't go to bed until after 3am. Last night, I was so tired, I was in bed by 12:15- so early. Anyways, until tomorrow friends..

9 Months Became 4 Days

I can't believe we are here- only 4 days to our big event. It seems like yesterday that I started working on it- heck, last year's event seems like yesterday too. How are things going? They're OK. A friend came by today to help work on the bid sheets for the auction and our intern stayed late tonight to keep working on them. I've lost count, but I think I have about 30 more to go- that's not bad since we have over 100 items. Our intern also did the calendar photo montage that will play at the event too. I picked up a very pretty Tupperware gift basket tonight. Tomorrow, I'm picking up a salon gift basket, then I'm off to Boston to pick up the Beija Rum for our event. On Wednesday, I have two more items to pick up- our Trader Joe's gift bag and another item. There is also another item that I need to follow up with and there is a big ticket item that hasn't arrived yet, I followed up with that one this morning and was assured it would arrive before the event. I was planning on finishing the rest of the bid sheets tonight, but I acted like a bit of a bum tonight and really didn't do anything except waste time on Facebook, chat with my sis and watch a bit of TV- not exactly the Productive Polly that I was intending to be.

I'm really nervous about getting people to the event. We're doing OK, but I wish it was better. A number of friends have said they're bringing people, so as long as they do, things should be fine. I wish it wasn't so difficult to get people to attend. I don't know what else to do. We have a wonderful event, I chose the best date possible- I know some people say that Milford is out of the way, but it makes sense since this is where we are based and because many of the people in our calendar are located here. I don't know where else to have it- I know if I moved it to Boston, a lot of our supporters wouldn't go because they don't want to drive into Boston. There's really no point in thinking about this now since the event is 4 days away. I've tried to cut costs with our hotel bill, but haven't been able to lower it from last year. We're not over budget, and I have saved money with having Natalie do our program, but then I had to spend money on our invitations that I got printed for free for the last few years. The event is going to cost about the same as it did last year. I couldn't figure out a way to cut cost without sacrificing some of the event. It is really important to have a consistently good quality event and I don't want to risk people thinking that it wasn't a good event and not wanting to come back next year. I don't know why I'm getting all worried about things- especially things that are already set. I did a good job with planning the event and I made the right decisions, should there is no reason to second guess. The sponsorship dollars cover the cost of the event and that is important. Last year, we had double the amount of financial sponsors, but the economy was in better shape last year.

Anyways, I'm getting tired and when I get tired I get anxious. I don't know if I should just go to bed or go back and work on those bid sheets. If I start working, I probably won't go to bed until 3am- when I start working, I can get somewhat obsessed and keep going until things are done. So, it is probably best if I stick to a normal bedtime and go to bed now- 12:21. I haven't exercised in a few days and that's throwing me off too. There are also some personal things happening too which has made things pretty turbulent. Anyways friends, I'm off to bed or work- I'll let you know tomorrow...

Friday, September 25, 2009

So much to do

Here we are- just over a week to our next big, and very important event. How are we doing? Well, we have over 100 fabulous auction items. Seriously, this is the best silent auction I have ever been to. There is something for everyone and the vast majority of our items are very affordable. I was at the hotel finalizing our menu- it is similar to last year with a nice selection of appetizers. I wish we could do more, but I can't afford it. Now, I need people. We are struggling to get a good turnout. I know this happens every time, but it seems to be even harder this year. I know things are difficult with the economy, but our event is only a $10 ticket- people get free food, a free rum cocktail and a calendar- i think that's a really good deal. I've been asking everyone who is coming to spread the word and bring friends. I've been getting the word out to people as much as possible. Tomorrow, I'm back to work on the phone- following up with people. It is so nerve wracking to get people to show up- really, really difficult. I don't know what else to do. Tomorrow, I also need to start doing the bid sheets for the auction and get more info to Natalie for the program. There are a lot of other things that need attention to- our newsletter, grants, police/fire contacts and more. I just need to spend a lot of time on this event, because this is our last big event of the year and the money from this event is extremely important.

There was an encouraging thing today- I was on Constant Contact (our email marketing tool) earlier, sending out our Anniversary event invitation again. I always look at the open rate for our emails and I always thought that they were really low. Then I saw that CC had a tool where you could compare your open rate to other related companies. The open rate for other non profits averaged 12% lower than Project Smile. So we are doing better than average with the success rate of our newsletters. Once this event is over, I want to do some online training that CC offers to help improve the open rate of our newsletters and email marketing even more. Our email database has more than doubled in the last few months, so I really want to work on reaching out to those connections in a successful ongoing way.

So what else is going on? I can't remember. My little brain is fixated on trying to get people to our event next week. I need to relax and just keep working methodically on contacting everyone. If you can help me, please spread the word to get people to come to our Anniversary event- Friday, October 2, 6:30pm, Doubletree Hotel, Milford. See our events page for more info. It is a terrific event, I really do need help in getting people there though.

I'm going to take my worried self and go to bed- actually before that, I'm going to have more non fat Trader Joe's European Style yogurt with oj. I just tried it tonight and it is delicious! Until tomorrow friends..

Monday, September 21, 2009

12,000 Successes

Date Auction Success to the tune of $12,000 raised! What a night it was! The funny thing was that we managed to raise almost 30% more than last year even though the winning date auction bids were significantly less than last year. This year most people went around the $100 range- the highest was a woman for $400 and a few men went in the $200 hundred range. We had absolutely beautiful and accomplished people, so there definitely wasn't an issue with the bachelors/ettes and we had some very hot fire fighters. The lower bids were definitely a sign of the economic troubles- people have less money to spend. So how did we increase from last year? We raised our ticket prices and we sold a lot more tickets in advance. Our silent auction items did well too, we actually increased the profit margin on some of our sports items and the airline tickets went for $600.

Almost as important as the amount of money raised was the awesome feedback we received. We had 500 people at Gypsy Bar and I heard so many good things from people that attended or were auctioned off. Katie, from Sofft Shoes, was able to attend and I think she really enjoyed the event. Our presenting sponsor, Table for Eight, was also in attendance for the first time. I was really happy that they could see our event firsthand and just how cool it is. We also got really good feedback on our gift bags. I wish that Axe and some of the other donors could have been their to see it. One of my personal highlights was to see our bright green Project Smile bags walking down Bolyston Street after the event. When we walked over to get my car, two girls that got in the elevator both were carrying their Project Smile bags and it made me so happy to see. In terms of marketing Project Smile, the date auction is awesome.

Our volunteers also did a great job, we had about 20 volunteers helping. It really makes a difference when you have reliable people helping. I spent a lot of time Saturday following up with people to get their silent auction items to them, thanking people (I still haven't finished) and following up with the ladies to get their Sofft Shoes order form. It was kind of funny to wake up today and not have to work on getting gift certificates for the date auction. I am working on getting already promised auction items for the anniversary event next week though- we still have a lot of items that were promised, but we haven't received yet. I also need to keep working on getting people to attend- we are really short on that so far. I did get some fabulous jewelry pieces in the mail today from Melissa- she sells jewelry and also helps sponsor our calendar for the last few years.

In other good news, our calendars are ready! I am picking them up tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to seeing them. I'm also dropping off a sport auction item in Boston after I pick up the calendars. Then, I'm back to work on getting people to our big event next week. It is such an awesome event, it really should be easier to get people to attend. I really need people to bring their friends with them- that is the best way to get people to attend. One of our highlighted auction items hasn't arrived yet, so I'm getting a little worried about that.
Anyways friends, I am really tired- it will be an early night tonight- it is only 12:12. Until tomorrow friends...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Here We Are

Well, here we are, our biggest event of the year is only 18 hours away. Nine months of work, countless hours of stress and it all hinges on 2 1/2 hours tomorrow- one chance to make it all go right, one chance to have hundreds of happy guests who can't wait until next year's event. Just a little bit of pressure wouldn't you say? Whatever happens tomorrow night, I do know that I've worked my hardest on this event. I've done everything possible to market, to recruit good people to auction, obtain sponsors and other donations, volunteers, I've stayed on budget, I've planned out all the details- I don't know what else I could do to prepare, I honestly don't. So I just hope that it is enough. Last year, it was enough, can we please do it again this year? And how about doing it a little bit better? The thing is, I know it can be good, when I close my eyes, I can see tomorrow being absolutely fabulous. It was wonderful last year, it can be even better. I hope that I have everything covered, I hope there are no disasters that I have no control over.

The signs are there that the event will be good- we have sold more than double the amount of tickets that we sold last year. That is tremendously good news, especially with the economy the way it is and we did raise our price $3, but also included a gift bag. I'm also really happy with the cool items that we have for our gift bags. We did have some awesome promotion for our event- Boston Event Guide is always a great marketing source. Yelp had our event featured in their newsletter last week, Going.Com is promoting it- it is even listed at the #1 event that Bostonians are attending this weekend! Our Stuff magazine ad that they donated looked great. Tomorrow, the Globe should have a nice promo in the G section on our auction, so that would be great for people looking for a last minute Friday night activity.

Well, I don't know what else to say. I should probably go to bed. I have to pack up my little bedside lamp to take with me tomorrow. The lighting is pretty dim at Gypsy in certain areas, so I always bring additional lights. I'm waiting until after 9am tomorrow to print out our guest list, in case we get an early morning ticket sales. Our web host has it programed so the ticket link is disabled at 9am, people are then directed to buy tickets at the door. I have a bunch of volunteers coming tomorrow, so that will be a big help. We should be good- I just wish I could relax, but that's OK. Jeff at Boston Event Guide was so happy for us with our ticket sales. It's sound refreshing to talk with enthusiastic people.

OK, I'm starting to ramble. So I'm going to stop now, write my list of things not to forget tomorrow, then going to bed early (1am is the goal), and be ready for tomorrow. Wish me luck friends!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Count Down

OK, this is going to be an eleven minute blog- it is 1:49 and my goal is to have the lights out by 2:05. I'm trying really hard to keep on a good sleep schedule so I'm not totally exhausted by Friday. I'm really tired anyways. So how are things? Going pretty well. I picked up some gift certificates this afternoon and I bought a bunch as well- some friends had donated money to cover the cost. Then I got back to work this afternoon and had two emails confirming that we will be getting their gift certificate donations for the event. It was kind of funny, since I didn't need to go and buy all the ones that I did. But I couldn't have predicted that was going to happen and I wanted to get things covered. We sold a lot of tickets today which is really good, we've sold 40% more tickets than we had sold this time last year, so that is pretty awesome. Tomorrow, I have a lot of small things to take care of and I need to stuff our bags with our latest items. A friend is coming over tomorrow evening to help with that.

I also need to keep getting the word out for our anniversary event and following up with auction items that I haven't received. I am so nervous about everything. I'm trying my best to relax and stay calm and focused on getting all the details taken care of. The most important thing right now is to pay attention to the small details- because that is where things can go wrong. I think I have everything covered, but I keep worrying that maybe I'm missing something. I did my walk thru at Gypsy today and everything was looking good.

Well, it is 2:01 and I'm off to bed. I know this wasn't exactly the most fascinating post and I'm sorry about that. I need to sleep and write my list for tomorrow. Until next time friends...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

4 Days and Pressure

Well, here we are- 4 days to our biggest event of the year, nine months of work comes down to 2 1/2 hours on Friday night. Will it be a success? Will it bring in the dollars we need so much? Will it run as smoothly as it did last year? I don't know yet, but I'm hoping that it is yes for all three. How do I feel? It is hard to explain- I feel nervous, jumpy, exhausted, anxious, happy on a certain level that we have a really good event planned and excited too. I haven't been sleeping well for the past couple of nights which is really unusual. However things end up on Friday, I do know that I have worked as hard as I could to make this event a success and I am proud of what I've done. We have 41 awesome guys and ladies being auctioned, we met our sponsorship goal, we have done a lot of marketing, we have awesome gift bags, good hosts, good venue, some really cool auction and raffle items- I've been doing everything that is necessary to have a successful event, but that doesn't really help me feel any better. I got a lot of prep work done today- did bid sheets, bought table covers, checked our credit card machine to make sure it was working (it is), got our table lamps out, pens, raffle tickets, etc. I'm trying to get as much done as early as possible. Sometimes, that is easier said than done. Tomorrow was the deadline for gift bag items, so I could do one final stuffing tomorrow night. I just found out this afternoon, that one of our sponsors is bringing gift bags to the event on Friday that we will have to stuff that day. I'm glad they are including items, but I wish we could have had it all done before event day. Our program was finished tonite, but I'm still waiting for the info from 2 fire fighters who said they were participating. I can't wait much longer. The program is so important, I really want it printed and ready to go by Wednesday.

And what about our other event in 2 1/2 weeks? It is moving along slowly- we really need help in spreading the word and getting people to attend. I am so afraid of our lovely room with its 98 auction items all around, great food, live music, free cocktail and just a couple of people there. How utterly awful would that be? I'll end up waging a bidding war with myself for auction items. I did get an email from a woman today through Volunteer Match. She offered to help at the event and also spread the word to her friends/family. She sounded very nice on the phone and was enthusiastic, so hopefully she will be able to bring some people with her.

Anyways, my eyes hurt and I have a headache, I really should go to bed. My friend and board member Michelle just started a blog about supporting a non profit (Project Smile) and I need to put a link on our site to it, but I don't think I can concentrate anymore. It is a really good blog too. She is one of our best board members- always so generous and helpful and full of good ideas. I know that sometimes I'm a little slow about getting back to her about things, I'm working on improving that, but she is always patient. She wants to do a road race for PS and I think that would be a wonderful event. Hopefully, we can do it next year, but perhaps it would be the following year- I don't know yet.

I wish I could get rid of these nerves- I keep trying to relax. We're doing well in ticket sales, we already have more tickets sold than we had the night before the event last year. I'm so glad that I booked extra people for the auction- we had a guy drop out today which was disappointing since he was quite attractive, but since I overbooked, we are still OK. It amazes me how someone can drop out of a charity event this big only 4 days before, but at least we were able to get him out of the program. I hate having people in the program who don't show up.

OK, enough writing- headache and eyes getting worse. I'm off to Gypsy tomorrow to do a run thru and pick up gift certificates. I do have to buy some for the couples which is disappointing, but two friends donated money to help cover some of the cost and one of our volunteers donated money too- I love my friends and volunteers!
Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Closing In

Well, here we are- only a week (and a night) before the date auction and 3 weeks to the anniversary event. How are things going? Well, before I go into all that, I just wanted to share something. I was in Boston at a Meet Up dinner at La Verdad, an absolutely delicious Mexican restaurant near Fenway- after dinner, I stopped next door to check out a venue that wants to hold meet up events with us (it was a very nice place), as I walked back to my car, I kept thinking how happy I was just to be- I was happy that I was alive and healthy and happy just to be myself. Maybe that happy feeling was rubbing off, because I noticed that random people smiled at me as I walked up Landsowne Street. It is so nice to have that feeling of contentment.

OK, so back to the latest. Well, things are going OK. I sold 13 more date auction tickets today which was great. We only need 33 more to match what we sold the night before last year's date auction. I definitely think that we are on the right track. The only thing I'm worried about is that a lot of the marketing has already come out- Yelp and Going featured us in this week's newsletter, the Stuff magazine ad already came out (that does stay on the shelves for all of next week too) and our dedicated BEG email has come out. We do have our big newspaper promo on the day of the event, so that is great as a reminder and for people looking for something to do that night and BEG is making us a hot pick next week. So far, we have 138 peeps signed up to attend on FB, that includes a bunch of people being auctioned. I have this event in as many places as possible. Melissa from Hello Stiletto left a comment today about how she is seeing our event everywhere, so that is good. I'm still way short on gift certificates. We've added another 2 bachelors- one who I thought had dropped out, but he just sent me his info (he's very good looking, so I have to include him) and another firefighter. I'm still waiting on the profile info for 2 guys before I can get our program finalized and I'm waiting for our last sponsor ad- I've been waiting for that for a few months now and I really can't wait much longer.

I've also been working on the Anniversary event- that needs a lot of help in getting people to attend. I've been sending out a lot of invitations, I posted it on FB today and tomorrow, I'll post it for my meet up groups. I only have a few people confirmed to attend so far, that's normal, but it is so stressful. I don't understand why it is so difficult to get people to attend. It is a wonderful event- we have 96 awesome silent auction items, including Southwest Airline tickets, Direct Air tickets to FL, round trip transportation for two on LimoLiner, the luxury bus company to NYC, tickets to the Colbert Report and Jimmy Fallon shows, golf outings, restaurant gift certificates, white water rafting trips, kayaking, lots of autographed sports items, Celtics tickets, ice cream cakes, Sharks tickets and signed hockey stick, the TV Diner "Diner for a Day" certificate which gets you featured on the Billy Costa show, autographed Jay Leno t-shirt, children's book and photo, Patriot Brewer cert. from Sam Adams which gets you a case of Sam Adams beer per month for an entire year- there is a long list of things on our website. I've been working for 9 months to get these items.

We have an awesome speaker, Karen Swensen, the NECN news anchor and we have Miss Massachusetts as well. Tickets are only $10 and include a calendar. We have live music, complimentary Beija Rum cocktail, delicious appetizers and of course the debut of our 2010 calendar. This is the type of event that if I saw it, I would love to attend. It has been such a tough year fundraising, so we really need this event to be a big success. I wish there was a magic solution to get people to attend. I did meet with a woman that I met at DWC who helps business people network, she was very excited about helping us promote the event. I liked her a lot, hopefully, she will be able to get quite a few people to attend.

It is funny how important it is to keep following up- there are some businesses that promised items months ago and I have had to leave 5 or more messages following up to get the items. Most of these items, I have finally received. If I didn't keep being so persistent, there would be no way I would have received the donations. It is so important to keep following up with people. There are still two big items that have been promised that I haven't received yet, but I'm going to keep following up with them tomorrow.

Well, that's it for tonight. Tomorrow, I'm back to work on date auction and anniversary event. We need more gift certificates for the couples, I'm losing track of how many we need because I had counted in people that had promised items, but those items haven't materialized and so now, the gift certs. that I have gotten recently- some of them are simply replacing the ones I already thought I had- it is quite frustrating.

Anyways, I'm off to bed at a decent hour, it is 12:30- an early night. Until next time friends.. please wish me happy gift certificate hunting.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

1 1/2 Weeks to Go

I can't believe it has been almost a week since I blogged- I also can't believe our date auction is next week! This is going to be a short posting, it is already 1:24 and I need to be in bed soon. I don't know what's wrong with me, last night I started feeling really nauseous and ended up throwing up 3 times during the night. I can't imagine it was anything I ate because my whole family ate together at home and no one was sick to their stomach. I don't have any other symptoms and today nothing happened, I just feel a little queasy, probably because I didn't eat much today. I am so anxious about everything, but we are doing OK. I downloaded our PayPal reports from last year and we have sold 3 more tickets today than we did the same time last year. We need to sell 7 more by Friday to match the amount sold last year, one week away from the auction. To be equal to last year in advance tix sales is good, especially since last year was a big success, but for some reason, that news got me anxious. Probably because I always want to do better- equal isn't good enough, we always have to do better.

What else is new? I started mailing out our anniversary event invitations today. I sent out a lot, but still have a lot more to send. I do a combination of email marketing and actual old fashioned mailed invitations for the event. It does get costly, but it is successful in reaching people. The invitations look beautiful. They are similar to last year's, but updated.

Tomorrow, I will be on the road for a good portion of the day. In the morning, I'm heading to the printers to check our blue-line calendar proof- it is literally a blue copy of our calendar. Then our sports auction item dealer is meeting us at the printer so I can pick up auction items for next week, then I'm off to Boston to pick up a bunch of restaurant gift certificates and a silent auction item. I wish I didn't have to do so much driving since there is a ton of work to do here, but these are all important things. I'm still 8 gift certificates short for date auction couples. Maureen, one of the ladies being auctioned, is so awesome. She already got 3 great certs. donated and today, after I told her I still needed help, she got another great item. She has been such a big help. I put a posting on Facebook last weekend that I was looking for gift certs. and one of my friends sent me a message saying he would buy a $100 gift cert. for us. How nice is that? Honestly, I wouldn't be here without all the people that help, it really means so much.

Well, there is a lot of other things going on, but I'm getting a headache and need to sleep. I can't get sick this close to big events, so it's important to get enough sleep. Until tomorrow friends- I promise I won't be a blogging slacker again this week!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

2 1/2 Weeks, 2 1/2 Million Nerves

Well, here we are- 2 weeks and 4 days to the first biggest event of the year. How are doing? I think we're doing OK. Tix sales are starting to pick up, we sold 7 today. We're still short on gift certificates, but I did get news this afternoon that we are receiving 4 more shortly. Going.Com will also be promoting our auction. I'm feeling incredibly anxious and stressed, but I do know that I'm doing everything I can to make this event a success. It is being promoted on every possible outlet I can think of- that is critical. We have beautiful ladies signed up, hot guys, our rental equipment is all set, hosts are ready, I'm still waiting on some program ads and sponsorship checks and working on more gift certificates for the couples and I need the completed profiles for some of the guys, but things are doing OK. I keep asking myself what else I can do to make our event a success? Is there something I'm missing? I don't know what more I could be doing. I'm going to keep working really hard and trying to relax a bit. It is dreadful how anxious I get about these events. There is just so much pressure, it can be overwhelming.

Our harbor cruise went well last week, we raised $250. It is a small amount of money, but considering we didn't have to do anything but show up with volunteers, that works out well. Some of my friends came to help and they did a really good job, it is always nice when you get to work with your friends around. We had other volunteers too who helped a lot.

Our check arrived today from the BJ's Charitable Foundation- such a wonderful sight. That baby is getting run down to the bank first thing in the morning. It is such a relief that we received that grant. Relief is actually an understatement. We also received a $100 Bob's Discount Furniture gift card today for our Anniversary Celebration and we received a $30 donation from interns at Bank of America in CA.

I'm so tired, I need to sleep. I think there are a lot of things that I've probably forgotten to write about. I haven't heard back from the Wendy Williams Show about which bachelor is going to be on the show, so I'm a little concerned. I made a follow up call and email today to the producer, but haven't heard back yet. The Sofft Shoes arrived today for the bachelor to give Wendy and they are absolutely beautiful.
Anyways, it is 1am and my eyes are hurting. Until tomorrow friends..