I have much to say about everything that took place. The info is going to be split into two parts. Part one will be the logistics - how this whole thing was pulled off (other than God's part, of course). Part two will cover my thanks to everyone and the impact it had on us.
That being said, here are some facts about how this process was completed. There are many other families looking to fundraise for their adoptions and they have questions about the details of this event. This post goes out to our fellow adoptive families.
We began planning right before Christmas. We had a total planning time of about 6 weeks. First we reached a verdict on the kind of event we wanted to hold. We loved BBQ and knew that it's nice to attend a fundraiser or something similar every once in a while so you don't have to cook! From past experience attending silent auctions (like one my sister held this summer), we knew they can make money if you can collect enough donated items. Alan came up with the idea of a raffle, because it's easy for people who cannot attend to still be involved and purchase tickets.
The decision was made to hold the event at our house. We cannot hold a large amount of people inside our home, but we live on 17 acres with a large porch, large backyard, and lots of pasture land. We served food and had the silent auction items on the porch. Tables and chairs for eating were set up in the backyard (borrowed from our church dining hall). People parked in the pasture. Drinks and a restroom were in the barn. If you don't have that kind of space, you can ask someone who does if they would be willing to host if you do all the work (we had someone volunteer their barn and outside space if we didn't want to have it at our house) or have it at a church.
Once we had the date set (after calling our church and making sure it did not conflict with any church events), we sent out an email to all our contacts. A couple of our friends sent it to their contacts, too, which was very helpful. I sent a Facebook invite. Our church elders agreed to let us set up a table in the lobby after services to sell tickets the 3 weeks prior to the dinner.
Then we began thinking about our contacts. A family in our homeschool group owns a BBQ restaurant, so Alan talked to them about possibility of giving us a discounted price on the food. They graciously agreed. The food was delicious! There were pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, and rolls from Grandpa Johnson's BBQ.
Alan went to see a man we know from church who works at a local bakery. He was able to provide all the hamburger buns for the sandwiches as well as the cookies for dessert for almost no cost. That was extremely helpful in keeping food costs down. Our friends who are produce brokers donated strawberries and spent hours the day before dipping some in chocolate. Yum!
We weren't sure what to do about tea, so we waited until the last minute to decide. No tea was donated and we had pretty much decided to make it ourselves using our church kitchen on Friday. However, a couple days before the fundraiser, we looked at an ad for a local grocery store, and they were running a buy-one-get-one-free special on their tea that week. So we purchased all the tea from the Publix deli. I believe that was a God thing!
Alan and his father spoke with the manager at another local supermarket and they agreed to donate 125 water bottles and a few bottles of red wine. Depending on your background, you may or may not feel comfortable with idea of wine at your fundraiser, but we wanted it there in moderation. The fundraiser was being held at our home and people were going to be there for a few hours listening to the band. We chose to have some wine and beer available, which we purchased (except for the few bottles that were donated). On the table where the drinks were served, we put a sign with a donation jar, letting people know that beer and wine were not included in their ticket price so they could donate extra if they wanted. We ended up getting enough donations from the jar to pay for about 75% of the cost of the drinks.
A local business, 5 Alarm Party Rentals, agreed to let us have a second bouncy house for free when we rented one. They were very eager to help when we told them what we were doing. So about $160 was spent on bouncy houses. The children's area was set up in the front yard. There were also 3 tables there. One for face painting (I purchased face paint and Walmart and my daughter and her friend painted faces), one for an art table (my other daughter was in charge of that and we purchased construction paper and stickers from the Dollar Store), and one with a large jug of lemonade and cups.
We asked the high school students from our church to come help. Many of them gave up their Saturday night for this event. Some watched children and some helped park cars.
For silent auction items, we put the word out. We approached some businesses directly, others we asked people we knew to contact. There were also friends and family members who contributed items to be auctioned. Here's a list of items we received for auction:
2 adoption shirts
2 iPad covers
1-day off shore fishing trip
African market basket
14 Ct. gold and 1/3 Ct. diamond cross necklace
Hand-painted water glasses and hand-painted wine glasses from a local artist
Vince Gill concert tickets
Cast iron dutch oven
Collectable metal cars
Date night basket (with wine and aquarium tickets)
Movie theater passes
Hog hunting trip
Diaper "cake" for a baby shower
Strawberry baby hat
Girls night in basket with movie, chocolate, CD, book, etc.
Swarovski crystals heart necklace
Full service oil changes
Hair service gift certificate
Beach themed basket
1 week stay in a North Carolina cabin
Pie plate with server
Stamped silver necklace
Some of the items had a minimum bid, because they were not given to us for free. Some of them were given to us at cost, so we made our cost the minimum bid, and whatever was above that price was our profit. So if you cannot get items for free, it's still possible to make money.
We live in the country. A lot of people here enjoy hunting and being outdoors. Many of the auction items and raffle items included those opportunities.
One of the couples at our church own a gun shop in a nearby town. They let us have a choice of 3 guns at cost. The raffle drawing was for a gun and the winner had his choice of a shotgun, handgun, or rifle. Once we sold enough tickets to cover the cost of the most expensive gun, the rest was profit.
About half the money we made came from the raffle and the other half from the silent auction. We did not make much on the dinner. The dinner ticket price ($10 for adults and $6 for kids covered all the expenses like food, drinks, bouncy houses, paper goods, etc.).
We approached a member of our praise team at church about the possibility of coming and playing with his guitar and trading off time with a couple other people to have some background music. He let us know a few days later that he had asked his band to come (he's a member of a band called Ace Jackson and the Jump Kings) and they had agreed to play the entire time at the fundraiser for free as their ministry! Usually they play for hundreds of dollars! They came and set up right in our yard and did an incredible show. What a blessing!
During the band's breaks, we were able to speak and use their microphones. We spoke about our adoption and encouraged people to do what they can to help children. A local foster care group home that keeps siblings together is near to our hearts. The director came and was able to say a few words about their center. That way if people want to get invlolved in something locally, they can.
A table was set up on the porch with papers people could take home with information on ways they could help. We included local foster homes, as well as Because Every Mother Matters, World Vision, and The Adami Tulu Project. There was a board with information on orphan statistics, Ethiopia information, and our testimony that people could read.
The music and silent auction began at 4:00 and went until right after 7:30. The dinner was served from 5:00-7:30. Take-outs were available.
I called some of my family members and friends and asked if they were willing to take a 45 minute to one hour shift to serve dinner or work and ticket table. 15 people agreed!
About 7:45 we drew the name for the raffle. Then we announced the winners of the silent auction items. Most people paid for their auction items immediately and took them home.
A few men from our church stayed and helped load up all the tables and chairs and take them back to our church so they'd be ready for Sunday morning service.
Do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be afraid to ask for donations. We were blown away by how many people wanted to help when they found out what we were doing! We could not have done this without our church family.
We raised almost $6000 after expenses. God was so good to us.