My Life with Fundraising

I’m back! The auction is over!

I Rah-ah-ah-ah-AHHHH-cked it!!!

I returned home at 11:45 p.m. Saturday night and didn’t go to bed till 2. I was so wound up.

It is so gratifying to do work and succeed and know that it was my plan, executed my way, and the results were better than I had even hoped for. As a matter of fact, I did get a little worried early on in the evening thinking, “OK, Mag…this is on you if it doesn’t work.”

This is why I love auctions.
This is why I love auctions.

It worked. I am really happy and proud of myself. I have a long history with fundraising auctions. Fundraising has seen me through some tough times. Doesn’t that sound weird, but it is fact. Finally I have found something I love to do and I have become a pro.

The first year Annie was in preschool (2000), I was a young mother who had never had a kid in school. She went to a co-op so all the parents had jobs and had to help out. Every year Oswego Playschool has an auction and that year was no different. The woman running the auction asked me if I would help procure items for the silent auction. I had done volunteer work on fundraising events with non-profits (Oregon Ballet Theatre, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation) prior to getting married and having kids; so sure I will help!

Jan gave me a notebook with a list of donors and their contact information and little boxes to check if they were or were not going to donate, there was a space for making notes about items, pick up times, contacts, etc. I loved that notebook.

A fundraiser had been born. I worked on the preschool auction for the years my girls were there and left the school having been the president of the co-op. By the time the girls were in grade school, I was tired and needed some time off.

My father died October 22, 2005. I had a rough time after he passed and eventually had a bit of a nervous breakdown and couldn’t leave the house. I got some lexapro and a good therapist and that started me on the road to recovery. I knew I also needed to DO something (I was a stay-at-home mom in those years). Someone introduced me to the Capitol Hill School (my kids’ elementary school) auction chair, Danni. My incredible pal, Danni. I asked if she needed any help with the auction and she told me she needed someone to drive around and pick up wine. I will do that! And I was back. I was involved. I was driving around Oregon wine country picking up wine. I wasn’t home in bed mourning.

And so it has gone.Β  Over the years, I have chaired many elementary school and middle school auctions with Danni. And we are Gooood.

In 2008, my mother was diagnosed with inoperable, end stage lung cancer. That summer I had a consulting job with a magical non-profit, Forward Stride. FS provides hippotherapy (horse therapy) to children and adults with developmental and emotional issues, as well as for returning veterans. It is a very special place with a huge barn full of therapy horses. And it gave me something to do over what was a terrible summer. There were days that I would go out to the pastures and stand by the fence and a horse would come over and place his giant head on my shoulder and just stand with me.

Forward Stride has a really nice work setting. Photo courtesy:
Forward Stride has a really nice work setting. Photo courtesy:

Forward Stride’s Cowgirl Ball was held October 4, 2008. I had done all I could do, the venue was set up, I delivered the last of the wine, took a look around and I had to leave. My mother was dying and I had to be with my family. The event went off without a hitch! I had put all the pieces in place and it worked!

It has now been years of auction clerking, writing blogs, learning database programs, taking on consulting gigs and I am really good at it.

I have a job that pays the bills and provides Derwood and me with health insurance and I am grateful for that. But this job isn’t me and this is the year, I find a way out of it. I have heard more than one person say, “Find what you love and do that.”

I love fundraising events. I love auctions. I really do. As soon as one is over, I’m ready for the next one or to begin planning the next year’s event.

This past Saturday night was the event I have been working on since September. I was in charge of the silent auction and the wine pull. I had a team of volunteers to help me and they did a great job. I had a plan which was to have fewer items, which would hopefully drive bidding up. The city (it was the City of Beaverton Mayor’s Ball) had a goal of $12,000 for the silent auction and $1500 for the wine wall.

Another consultant on the event, who was in charge of the live auction and bugging the hell out of me, was fixated on the “industry standard”. The Industry Standard says that the silent auction makes 50% of the items’ retail value. The Maggie Standard says the silent auction makes 77%Β  of retail value…BAM!!! And my team went over on budgeted revenue for both the silent auction and the wine wall!

Woo Woo!!!

Sorry to have bored you with all of this but fundraising is my calling and this is the year, I figure out how to make it my vocation.

25 thoughts on “My Life with Fundraising

  1. Wendi

    You and Danni make a fierce team/force to be reckoned with!

    Lump in the throat with the mom/summer/horse story. And SO GLAD to hear you’re on your path to happiness.

  2. Tilda

    This was really great to read, about your passion, and how it has woven through your life.

    You’re right, this is your year to follow your passion.

    And congrats on the auction Beautiful!

  3. This made me cry when you said the horse put his head on your shoulder and just stood there with you. Sometimes the weirdest things pull us out of a funk, although in this case weird isn’t the word, wonderful is. Congrats on the RAKE IN and cheers to your YEAR!!! (Ps…its the year of the horse. )

  4. Well done, Maggie! While the thought of participating in planning such an event sends me running the other way faster than you can say “silent auction,” I can read, and applaud, your exploits till the cows come home…and later! xoxoM

  5. Damn lady! Go make it happen!

    As for the vocation, one of my good friends works at the United Way and a large part of her job is fundraising through all sorts of different events, including auctions, so maybe look into the local chapters of any of the bigger non-profits?

    1. I’m on it. I have interviewed with non-profits but they don’t hire me. One reason I think is my mouth, diplomacy not my strong suit and I’m not going to change that for a job. I think I’m too old, why hire a 49 year old when you can get a 27 year old for less? And I don’t want to be in an office. I need my freedom which includes working in bed.

      I think this is the year I will have enough contracts on my own to make that happen!

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