Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Fundraising Chair

This weekend was our church sale. It was a fundraiser for the mission trip we are going on to Kenya this summer. Since all 4 of us are going on this trip fundraising is very important to me and I volunteered to head up the fundraising committee. I figured that I could handle the job. Come up with some fundraising ideas and put together a team of people to help do the work. I have become something of a fundraising committee chair person over the years as I headed the Entertainment book Sales at Jake's school for a couple years and have headed the boy scout wreath sales for the last couple years. The first year always involves a little more work as you set up a system and the second one is easier because you know what you are doing and can more easily recruit and delegate others to help.

Of course I don't have more than one year to perfect these fundraisers so I am having to delegate and trust a little more than usual. Up to this week my duties had been pretty light and I was doing a pretty good job.

Enter the big fundraiser. The Church Sale. Cue the dramatic music. To quote my mom, "you keep taking on projects you have never done before". This was after I told her I bought a second shirt to make into a dress for Isabelle so we would be matching. (Hilarious post on that sure to come.) However, it would certainly apply in this case as I hate to garage sale and haven't been to a church sale in 15 years. Actually that is the only church sale I have ever been to and I only went to that one because it was at a church near my home that I walked by after work on the way home from the bus. Yet here I am planning our church sale. That is OK, I will get help. Well I did get lots of people to say they would help but nobody that really wanted to commit to a responsibility. This seems to be a theme these days which could also be a whole post. Anyway...I took it all on.

We told people late last fall to begin collecting things for the church sale and we would take donations closer to the sale. Then a generous couple in the church said they could store larger pieces at their home. John and I brought some furniture we got from other family members (thanks Jessy) but there wasn't a ton of stuff brought over. As the sale got closer we started to wonder how much stuff we would have. One friend who frequents church sales wondered if we should just use a members garage and not do it in the church. Apparently church sales are a very serious thing. You do not want to have a bad sale which would give you a bad reputation and make it difficult to have a successful sale in the future. If we were going to host it at the church we were going to need ALOT of stuff and it better be well organized. No pressure.

I sent out an email asking people to let me know if they were setting stuff aside for the sale so I could assess how much stuff we were going to have. Several people let me know they were donating and most had at least one larger item of furniture, enough that I didn't think it would fit in a garage, so I decided to go for it at the church and pray we had enough to fill the entire church basement. I could tell my friend (and pastor's wife) was a little skeptical but she trusted me to run the sale. No pressure. We were only presenting our church to the entire community through this sale. If it flopped we could never have a sale again. And it would all be MY fault.

2 weeks ago we began to collect stuff for the sale. I had planned to store what was brought in a small room the youth use (all 10 of them) on Sunday mornings. After meeting they moved the donations in their room. I later found some stuff that had been left upstairs and added that to the pile. Already that room was full and I knew more was coming that afternoon. I got permission to put stuff at one end of the "great hall" and directed the people I knew were coming there. (the room was being used that week so we couldn't take it over quite yet.) I didn't get back to the church until Friday when I met my mom to drop off some stuff. The end of the room was looking a bit crowded! Saturday morning George, the man storing stuff, brought his load and then went to pick up some furniture from people who didn't have trucks to bring in their donations. Throughout that morning as we were having a Kenya trip meeting people brought car loads of stuff and by the time we were ready to start sorting through everything the pile was encroaching on our meeting space!

We made the decision that first day to simply sort items into categories. We ended up with a pile of clothes, toys, electronics, books/Cd's/records/movies, lamps, kitchen/housewares/home decor, Christmas, and a misc pile of sporting goods, pet supplies, craft stuff. We also started a pile I called "crap" which eventually became the free bin. By the end of the day instead of one huge pile we had many small piles that looked something like this:

We also recieved a great deal of furniture which my husband set up nicely down the middle of the room.

The next question was pricing. I really didn't want to do it but wasn't being overwhelmed with people volunteering to take over that task. God provided in the form of 2 women in our church who work with an Estate Sale company doing pricing! They attend the church and came up to me Sunday morning to offer their services. They decided they were most available that day and so while I didn't have pricing on that days activities we made it happen. They focussed on the furniture and we unpacked the housewares looking for antiques. They ended up finding a few fun pieces but the most fun was 4 pieces of Belleek.
Now I had never heard of it and probably would have slapped the same 50 cents or $1 on them I put on practically everything else I priced. Maybe $2 because they looked old and pretty. But it would have been a steal. They went home to research and we ended up pricing the 4 pieces at $90 which was still below their value. I was thrilled when a woman from the church came by on the second day of the sale who collects the stuff and she was excited to get it. That was the fun of the sale, we blessed others with new stuff at a great price and they blessed us with the money for our trip.

I spent 4 hours on Monday and Wednesday and 8 hours on Tuesday, along with a wonderful team of people, setting all the stuff up and pricing it. While moving the stuff around and setting it up is alot of work, turns out the mental task of pricing everything is what really takes it out of you. I had meant to take final set up pictures but forgot. Sorry. Donations continued to come in all week and we were full to the brim. We even had to put the clothes in the youth room and some overflow furniture up in the entry. We mapped out an in one door out the other flow and felt we were ready. I went to bed early Wednesday night feeling so exhausted I was literally shaking and feared I would be too sick for the first day of the sale. I got up the next morning feeling a little better, took and few advil and headed to the church where a wonderful woman who couldn't help with the sale decided to contribute by bringng fresh coffee and homemade treats for us each morning. God bless her. We all kept our sugar energy levels up throughout the sale.(so no not on the endo diet at the moment but definately going back. More on that another day too.)

So Thursday we opened the doors and the professionals, who were lined up at the door, came swarming in. It was a little freightning actually. I was afraid to move as they quickly scanned the room, scurried from place to place and snatched up stuff before anyone else could get to it. The ladies working the check out table had no time for chit chat as a line quickly formed. We were busy all morning and I started to relax and think the sale might be a success. It slowed down a little in the afternoon but that whole first day there was constant traffic. I knew we were on to something when one of the check out people asked if I had a key to the office because she had $1000 in her pocket and wanted to lock up.

We re-fluffed the place for Friday and kept busy that day as well. By Saturday we were ready for the bag sale, everything you can fit in a bag for $2. We were toward the end and ready to just get rid of what was left. 50% off the furniture we had left. It really cleared out then. Here are a few pictures of the place from Saturday. Keep in mind that every table you see was packed on Thursday morning.

These chairs never did sell. Anyone interested???

Finally the day came to an end. A couple women came and took stuff for charities they work with and the rest will be picked up this week by another charity. I headed up to count the money while the stuff was being boxed. The grand total? $4211.65!!! My goal had been $2-5000. The $5000 was really a dream but as the stuff came in I started wondering if we might actually make it. I am thrilled we got so close.

What a week. I normally work Monday and Wednesday mornings and every other Tuesday morning. This Wednesday I asked my boss if she could cancel my Tuesday shift because I was planning to have a break down after the sale and didn't think I would survive 3 mornings in a row. She laughed and told me I could take it off. Hurray. Now that the sale is over I am feeling pretty good and don't think I will have a break down as I thought. Actually I think my break down happened Wednesday night when I was sick in bed early. Instead I will be busy doing the homemaking I haven't done all week. I will put food in the fridge (I never want to eat out again), get to the bottom of the laundry and see how far off budget all those meals out put us. I got started last night cleaning the toilet after spending several days sitting on dried poo smear...Oh was that too much information?


  1. I am thrilled. You totally are awesome in every way. As my Dad used to say "the Lord will provide" and He is and has. Love you

  2. Way to go with diving in to completely unknown territory. Knowing how massive our efforts and volunteers were for our school wide rummage sale, it is amazing you were able to lead the whole thing and get it accomplished and have success to boot. Yes, God is providing for this trip...I have been praying that for you and it is just so nice when God answers us tangibly with the answers we hope for. :)

  3. I'm so thankful to hear the sale went well - congratulations and thank God! It was fun to see the pictures and how things really did clear out. I hope you get to relax some this week!