This spring I decided to convert my backyard into a garden area. When I was a kid, we always had a huge garden. So instead of more shrubs I planted sunflowers, pumpkins, cucumbers, watermelons, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onion and garlic. All the things I like to eat and cook with. Its amazing how good food taste fresh out of the garden. This week the tomatoes are ripening and cooking with fresh garlic is a real treat too.
I'm one of those types of people who tends to bottle things up inside of me. I know that's not a good thing, but I'm working on it. I've struggled to be open, even around my closest friend. I find it hard to share what I'm thinking, but eventually I sort out what life throws at me.
So what do I find is the best thing for clearing the mind of life's stickiness? For me, it's getting on my bike. Heading east out of Portland for a good half day ride into the Columbia Gorge is, in my opinion, one most spectacular landscapes in the Pacific Northwest. There is nothing more grand than carving a day out of your week along the roads through the Gorge. Riding takes your full attention and focus. It forces you to get out of your head and onto the task of keeping yourself alive while barreling down a freeway or a narrow two-lane road. You have to be completely present. You notice everything when you're riding - the smells in the air, the noises, the brightness of the sun. It's one of best feelings. That's why I searched for so long to find another GPZ. The first 50K miles I put on the old bike were all fun, all "smile miles", all good times. I'm already well on my way to the next 50K miles with my new old bike and loving every minute of it.
At the end of November, we will be finishing up our final fundraising auctions for the year. The last one on our roster is slated for the Soul River Foundation. Chad Brown is in charge of this not-for-profit aimed at helping inner city kids and veterans who suffer from PTSD. To learn more about the good work he is doing, you can check him out at www.soulriverrunsdeep.com.
This year has already been a big year for growth. All-told, eight new clients joined the srdorsey fundraising team. A couple were very large auctions with over 300 people in attendance and more than a $150K raised in one night! Though the majority came to us as grassroot groups starting up with their first fundraising auctions. Most had limited to no experience in organizing a fundraiser. So we were able to guide and coach them into holding their first auctions, which turned out to be better events than they had imagined possible.
On average, we managed to raise between $20,000 and $50,000 on auction night, which was enough to cover their expenses and provide much needed revenue for these kickstart non-profits. Our success didn't surprise me; but what did, was how difficult it was for these small groups with limited resources, to find an auctioneer who was willing to be paid less to work a smaller auction.
In my experience and opinion; it is even more crucial to hire a professional auctioneer for a smaller and newer auction, than it is for a well-established auction that has been running year upon year. Most auctions take at least three years to establish themselves. Usually in year one, we establish a baseline of funds raised. The next year, we improve a bit more by raising more than we did at the inaugural event. Then by the third year, the tendancy is for the amount of money raised to plateau. But not to worry; because by year three, we have typically tripled the amount we have raised from the first auction!
So whether you are considering your first ever auction or you need to spice up your tenth annual one, we are glad to help you out!
Easter weekend is the only weekend from February to April that I'm not working a fundraiser.
I'm also very excited to report that 2016 already looks to be the best year for my charity clients! Whether it is a foundation, a public or private school, or any other not-for-profit group; all have seen an increase in monies raised at their auctions and special appeals this fundraising season. I would like to think that the big increases that they are seeing in the money we are raising is due to my very professional auctioneering skills, but sadly I cannot take all the credit.
The small town that I moved to twenty five years ago is growing up. Our secret little place in the Pacific Northwest has been discovered. Together with an improved economy and the combined effort of original Portlandiars, new residents are making a real impact. Many of the new families I meet are from both southern and northern California, New York, Boston, Florida, Texas and even Europe. Many come to benefits, already experienced in giving. They support the schools that their children attend and the organizations whose causes they believe in. So, while many of us are experiencing the growing pains of a city full of change and progress; it seems to me that the things we value most, are changing hands with those who feel the same. It looks like our adolescent Portland is in good hands.
This week I have had the chance to reflect on and practice my patience. Now this isn't going to be one those self-help posts you can find all over your social media accounts either. It's actually about grass. No, not the kind that you can legally buy here in Oregon now either. It's about actual grass seed.
Nobody plants grass seed on their lawns anymore. Today, you can get a lawn in day. Just pick up the phone and someone comes to lay the sod down, your sprinkler system waters it, and BAM! Instant lawn. Well, I did the opposite. I took the time to till the land, prepare it with topsoil, went out and bought actual seed, spread the seed on my lawn and watered. But nothing happened. I hand-watered it daily. Still nothing. The next thing you know, the birds started to eat the seeds. Not just one or two birds, but flocks of them. I love birds, but they are eating my lawn as fast as I can put the new seed down! My first thought was that the seed was defective and that my front yard is going to be a sea of mud this fall. The reality was that I just hadn't waited long enough, until the seed was ready to sprout.
How many of us give up on something before it was ready to sprout and grow. Think about that when you're going about your daily life or even when planning your next fundraising auction. Everybody and everything takes time to grow. That goes for your grassroots fundraisers too.