Hoedown for HOPE: With Conviction and Dedication
Spokane Hearing Oral Program of Excellence (HOPE) provides early intervention auditory and language therapy to children who are deaf or hard of hearing during the early years of rapid brain development. HOPE was founded in 2004 on the premise that all children with hearing loss should have the opportunity to maximize their listening and speaking skills.
To offset the soaring tuition costs Spokane HOPE has a single large auction fundraiser each year, named Hoedown for HOPE and chaired by Kim Schafer. Kim proudly shares the team effort raised $170,000 profit at its 7th annual event last year and all the proceeds help 50 children annually on their hearing loss journey to reach their full potential, pursue their dreams, and thrive in school, their community, and life.
Special thanks to Kim and her banking coordinator Ashley for taking the time to share their auction story. Kim and Ashley revealed how they reach their goals in hopes that other charities are inspired to raise more money in their auction fundraisers. It is with conviction and with dedication that this auction team reaches its financial goals year after year.
The auction takes teamwork and hours of planning to execute at this high level and make for an attractive event. The team at Hoedown for HOPE seeks volunteers that are dedicated and committed. They do so by constantly looking for helpers, being kind and welcoming, training well and appreciating a job well done. They are honored that often volunteers help for many years over and over and attribute the long-term commitment to the satisfaction volunteers get in helping and being appreciated.
For instance, Ashley volunteered to handle the banking for the auction but knows she can’t do it all alone. She has a small group of volunteers that help each year with banking and checkout. She tells us “for closeout to run smoothly for bidders and volunteers it takes dedication and commitment on her part to make their part easy.” Ashley is dedicated to the ‘job’ by ensuring every dollar is tracked and monitored from the first ticket and sponsorship to the last receipts and statements. Ashley is committed to carrying out the duties with a volunteer team by planning in advance and training volunteers thoroughly on the evening of the event. She has written and printed procedures with step-by-step instructions at every checkout station. Her commitment to the checkout team is to review last year's activity and improve for the following year. This has led to an expedited check IN (registering cards upon arrival) so there is a very quick check OUT (online processing) so bidders can checkout and walk out swiftly. The more efficiently they can work the higher satisfaction for volunteers and bidders.
The Hoedown for HOPE team has extremely committed and passionate volunteers that seek out donations. They start with being prepared with a comprehensive donation request form. The one-pager tells the story of past fundraisers and summarizes how much money was raised, where the money went and then a request for a current donation. Most donation request forms are hand delivered by a volunteer that is dedicated to help bring in donations. Many times, volunteers on the procurement team are meeting face to face with potential donors so they have a chance to share their personal story. The sincerity and devotion are the emotional push that helps donors say ‘yes’! Doing so engages the donor and many times those around listening. In soliciting for donations sharing the mission of Spokane HOPE can lead to finding more volunteers and sponsors for families in need.
Commitment also means hearing ‘no’ is okay too. Many times, a ‘no’ has a reason, such as timing of the request or they cannot meet the type of request. By being flexible and committed to the overall success of the auction the procurement team can make adjustments. If it is a matter of timing they will record when they need to request a donation next time. As the following year approaches, they now know who to ask for donations and when. The commitment to working smarter each year yields a bigger and broader event.
Here is the donation request information being used for 2019.
The HOPE sponsorship team is committed and dedicated too. Showing dedication to past sponsors keeps them coming back year after year. The sponsorship volunteers also believe that ‘no’ isn't always a no. Flexibility here too goes a long way in complete dedication to doing anything that helps build the auction. Again, they start with a beautiful one-page document describing what it means to be a sponsor. The document is well balanced illustrating what the sponsor gets out of it on the business side in addition to how the sponsorship will help the deaf and hard of hearing children. They have incorporated many HOPE children on the Sponsorship Level page, as those precious faces touch hearts deeply and bring investors onboard.
If the potential sponsor says no, the team is committed to learn why, hoping to make their best effort to turn a no into a yes. They have found persistence has paid off and asking a few more questions to understand what the reason behind the no. For example, the procurement team was talking to a construction equipment manufacturer. This is not your typical consumer product, so a product donation is not applicable. After asking in a different way “if there is anything that you can donate that would be valuable, they would be appreciative”, sure enough the large equipment manufacturer has a stock of Yeti coolers and tumblers they use as client gifts. They donated a cooler package and it of course attracted bids and helped raise money.
Here is the sponsor request information being used for 2019.
The Hoedown for HOPE gala team creates a fun atmosphere that draws in over 400 guests. How do they do it?
They are committed to making the event a “don’t miss event” for the area by branding Hoedown for HOPE so it is memorable. The event attracts newcomers with an exciting line-up of activities. It brings back the previous guests with an event that was inclusive of all levels of participation from low to high sponsors, low to high bidders, attractive raffles, auction items and experiences, and a Cowboy Draw raffle. They top it all off with good food and some boot scootin’ dancing.
Here is the planned Hoedown for HOPE 2019 schedule of events:
- 5:00pm Social Hour
- Stampede (Silent Auction)
- Cowboy Draw (Card game - win $500!)
- Ranch Hands for HOPE (Gift Card Raffle)
- Prize Package Ponderosa Raffle
- Grand Prize Raffle - Win a trip to Maui!
- Live music
- Photo Corral, free photos of you and your posse (Sponsored by Hi-5 Orthodontics)
- 6:05pm Blue Silent Auction Table Close
- 6:15pm Red Silent Auction Table Close
- 6:15pm Dinner Bell
- 7:15pm Live Auction begins. Rose Backs, Auctioneer
- 8:45pm Check Out Begins
- 9:00pm Time to grab your partner and Do-si-do or line dance!
Commitment & Dedication Never Ends
The commitment and dedication do not end after the auction concludes. The end of the auction means the beginning of the next chapter of the story. The bidders, donors and sponsors all receive statements, receipts or thank you letters with heartfelt images and stories. Volunteer appreciation is also vital in the ongoing success of the auction fundraiser. This comes at the price of just a few pizzas (and of course, chocolate) pre-auction. Since the majority of their on-the-floor volunteers are undergraduate and graduate Speech-Language Pathologists students, food is much appreciative by this young and energetic group. Thank you notes are mailed to the volunteers afterwards to share our heartfelt gratitude for their time and support. Within two weeks of the Hoedown, a celebration is hosted for the Hoedown for HOPE committee to raise a toast to the success of the event and also to share feedback. The good, bad and the ugly. The feedback part of the gathering shows commitment to hearing and learning what went well and should be repeated and what can be improved upon. It is a great time to inform the group of final tallies and re-dedicate for next year.
Special thanks to Kim and Ashley for taking the time so share their auction story, and another thank you for sharing their auction materials. One of Kim’s favorite quotes is from Helen Keller "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." They hope this will inspire your auction team to be dedicated and committed to the cause that you cherish.
More about Spokane HOPE
Its child and family focused services include birth to three in-home language therapy and audiological management training, weekly Toddler Group that offers socialization and continued auditory and oral language development, preschool that centers around pre-academic and social skills development using intentionally designed listening and spoken language strategies, and pre-kindergarten that prepares children for mainstream kindergarten in their resident district schools ready to learn on par with their hearing peers. “We walk arm in arm with the families through each of these development stages empowering them to immerse their children in a language rich environment and to advocate for their child’s right to be a participatory member of our hearing world.”
For more information about Spokane HOPE’s programs, please contact (509) 868-0044 or firstname.lastname@example.org