Monday, April 20, 2015

Becoming a Big

Today is National Volunteer Recognition Day! There’s no better way to celebrate than interviewing a couple of our volunteers about what it’s like to be a Big. Christina Gau and Kristen Norlund are just beginning their journey as a volunteer Big with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS). Both of them were motivated to volunteer when Rachel Bogenrief, a recruiter for BBBS, visited the team at DAYTA Marketing to talk about volunteer opportunities and what it means to be a mentor. Kristen was a mentor in high school and had such a great time that she wanted to do it again! She said her first mentoring experience, “was a great experience and I could tell how much she valued our time together and I loved it!”

One of the most exciting experiences when volunteering as a Big, is meeting your Little for the first time! The first meeting is at BBBS with the Big, the Little, the parents of the Little, and an employee of BBBS. The goal of the meeting is to get to know all parties involved, learn what is expected of all parties involved, and talk about what the relationship will look like after the initial meeting.

Before you can get matched up with a Little, BBBS has to get to know you. Christina said, “There were a lot of questions. The interview was about an hour and a half long. They asked everything they needed to know to make sure the Little was going to be in a safe environment.” The process is very thorough to ensure a perfect match!

Going through the process of becoming a Big can take up to a month, because, as Kristen describes, “the process of becoming a Big was not only exciting but also very thorough. They dig deep into who you are and why you want to be involved in this organization and spend time with a child. They ask questions about your past, present and future and make sure that you will be a positive role model for the little. They also want to make sure that you will be committed and are planning on staying in the area and carry out the relationship for at least a year.”

Both ladies made it clear that they are excited to become a mentor and a role model for a child who needs one. They can’t wait to get started!

Volunteering is not one sided. Becoming a Big is a very rewarding experience not only for the Little but for the Big as well. At BBBS, we couldn’t be more thankful for our volunteers and everything they do. We couldn’t do what we do without them. A BIG thank you goes out to all volunteers! Thank you kindly for your service.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Impact of Auctions on the Magic Moments Gala

The Magic Moments Gala is quickly approaching! As the primary fundraising event, Shari Wahlin, development director, and the Big Brothers Big Sisters' team has dreamed, created, developed, and invested themselves into making this event a success. One of the key elements of this magical night is the organization’s partnership with Andy Imholte of Black Diamond Auctions. There are a lot of fun elements incorporated to this event, but the impact of the auctions is undeniable.

A few years ago the Magic Moments Gala committee wanted to make a change in their programming. Shari Wahlin describes the change, “In recent years, our Magic Moments Gala committee really wanted to focus on having our event not only be a fund-raiser, but also a FUN-raiser.  We made a decision to move away from a silent auction, but to come up with a creative and fun alternative.”

The decision to bring fun into the fundraising event was received well by Andy. He believes that when an auction is done right, it can actually be the entertainment for the night. “It’s not always about the items. It’s about participating, having fun and being a part of the visual part of the fundraiser.”

The event offers an innovative and fun, “centerpiece auction.” Incorporating the night’s theme into the auction, each table will be adorned with black top hats, LED lights, and foil sprigs. Each centerpiece has a “mystery” gift card with a value of $20 to $100+ that has been donated by area businesses. Shari explains, “During the centerpiece auction, guests identify a person at their table who will act as their Table Auctioneer. The Table Auctioneer will auction off the centerpiece/mystery gift card to their tablemates, encouraging them to bid it up.  The incentive is that there is a special prize for the highest overall bidder and for the Table Auctioneer who secured the overall highest bid. We've had a positive response to this auction type.”

In addition to the centerpiece auction, a classic live auction will take place. Generous sponsors have donated incredible packages that will be auctioned off by Andy during the event. (Check out the Live Auction Items ahead of time and plan out your bids!) Over the years, the Magic Moments Gala Committee has noticed some trends. “We've found that people seem to enjoy  "experiences" more than items, so we have tried to come up with live auction packages that can be shared with family and friends. I really think every one of the ten live auction packages are appealing,” explained Shari.

A highlight for many is fund a dream. Andy shares the sentiment of the moment well, “I love the fund a dream. The moment when we tell a story about why we’re all there and the difference we can make, and then I get to go up and ask people to show their support, it’s the part of the night that can give you chills when you see it happen...The whole room did it. No one person did it. Everyone participated to make that dream a possibility.”

The support for the event is rising each year. The attendance has grown from 350 a few years ago to a sell-out crowd of 700 this year. It’s a beautiful thing to see the community rally behind our youth. Who’s excited to share the magic this Friday?

BONUS: Andy shares his best auctioning tip: “My #1 tip: bid on the first item. The first item is usually the best deal because people are afraid to begin bidding, they aren’t quite comfortable bidding yet. Get in early. If you’re interested at all, bid right away before other people realize they want it.”