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Summary of Event & Lessons Learned


Pub Night Program
Solicitation Letter
Bid Sheet
Press Release
Photos of the Event

Date of Event: Nov 3, 2007

Venue: Riverhouse Pub in Ladner (an attractive pub situated on an estuary of the Fraser River). Pub holds 100 (squeezed). The silent auction items were displayed in a room that was at a distance from the main room.

We would prefer a larger venue next time as this was too tight and while the silent auction items went well, it would have been better to have had them in the same room.

Pub Night at the RiverhouseMeal: A full dinner – salad / roast beef or salmon / square for dessert / coffee and tea Cost to us was $18. Chose a full meal over a “pub burger” because venue recommended against pub burger – said we’d sell more tickets for a proper meal. Meal was delicious and won rave reviews.

Tickets: Price was $35 each - $18 to pub and $17 to cause. Tickets were sold by the gogos. Initially we only wanted to sell about 90 tickets which is what the venue recommended but at the end, sold 100. We started ticket sales about 2 months before event – initially sales were slow but in last two weeks people were clamouring for them and could have sold more.

Proceeds: We netted out about $7,000. We had very few expenses – some postage for thank you cards to donors and a few bar bills that people forgot to pay. Virtually everything else was donated by members or donors.

Publicity: Made up a brightly coloured poster which committee members posted in likely locations and handed out to groups. Because the number of tickets we could sell (90-100) was limited we never needed to go beyond this in terms of publicity.

Program: Event was supposed to open at 6:30 with dinner at 7:15 but by 6 people were arriving. Dinner service began about 7:30. Throughout the evening we had 4 raffle draws, several sessions of live music, the live auction and showed the 7 minute version of the “Easing the Pain” video. People left about 10:30.

A member with no fear of public speaking was MC while the musician (also with no fear and some experience at auctioneering) handled the live auction.

Entertainment: A friend of one of the members is a professional singer/guitarist from Andre asBasson and Shaun Van Der Westhuizen South Africa. He and a friend donated their talents to the evening. Unfortunately, we found that people treated this as “background music” and talked incessantly over the live music. We had expected the entertainers to play African drums and this might have engaged the audience, but they chose not to, citing the cramped space of the venue as being unsuitable to this.

The only time the audience actually engaged with the music was when they rocked out with several songs like “It’s Only Rock and Roll” which actually got people up dancing in the aisles. Which was not actually the kind of evening we had planned, but at least they were engaged with the musicians.

Auction Items: A solicitation “kit” was produced and given to members at large so they would solicit items. The kit contained: instructions; an introductory letter describing the cause; a poster for the event. Items came from:

  • members tapping up their personal contacts
  • letters to arts and sports organizations requesting tickets
  • canvassing retail outlets, spas, hotels, fitness studios, etc in the area

We were concerned about the same retailer or business being hit up repeatedly so one committee member volunteered to keep a list and be the contact and this. Members were asked to contact this person before soliciting a specific business to ensure someone else was not already doing it.

Auction / Raffle: Once items were collected (and we had dozens) they were sorted into the following categories:

Quilted Wall HangingA. Items suitable for Live Auction (these were kept limited because people have a limited attention span for this)

  • Autographed Vancouver Giants Jersey
  • “Handy Husband” for four hours
  • Custom made retractable screen door
  • Hand Painted Garbage Can by local artist
  • Beach Grove Golf course – 2 rounds
  • Quilted Wall Hanging

    These items all went for in excess of $250 each.

B. Silent Auction items – generally in excess of $50 value. In some case, items were grouped in baskets. Bid sheets were set out on long tables. Items were displayed beside their bid sheets. Where the item was a gift certificate we made up a “tent card’ that described the gift certificate (and kept the gift certs secure).

C. Small value items ($25 or less) were used as raffle prizes

Raffle Tickets – these were sold all night long at 4/$5 or 10/$10. This was highly successful bringing in over $700.


  • Sent thank you cards to all the donors.
  • Sent a press release and photo to the local paper talking about the success of the venture.They printed it.
  • Created a small ad in the local paper, thanking donors. Paper printed it free as a courtesy to a member who has some connections there.

Extra Touches:

  • One of the members made up placements that featured photos of African grannies and children with the words “Why we are here”. These were colour copied onto pub night placemat11x14 paper (printing donated) and used as placemats for the dinner.
  • A contact of one of the members made up floral arrangements for each table (she had the flowers donated by a wholesaler). An envelope was placed on the table inviting guests to put a donation into the envelope then take the floral arrangement home.
  • We “reserved” tables for groups that wanted to sit together

Lessons Learned

We had no trouble selling 100 tickets without any advertising other than a few posters so next time we will look for a larger venue.

Having the silent auction items so far away from the main room was not great – next time look for a larger venue.

There was a hockey game on many screens (a pub after all) and we should have gotten those turned off a lot sooner.

Wait staff were distracting during the final bidding on the live auction – should have been asked to stand down during the live auction.

Good participation in the silent auction and raffle ticket sales but the higher-priced live auction items were bought by just a handful of people (and alcohol had lubricated their bidding). Need to find a way to ensure that people who want to bid on the big ticket items are there as most people sit there like lumps.

floral centrepiecesThe floral table centres were "sold" by asking people to put a donation in the envelope on the table. This only resulted in 50% of centrepieces sold so would like to improve on that another time.

Several parties managed to walk out without paying their bar bill – pure mistake. Took some chasing down to figure out who they were. Needs to be addressed in future – maybe a no-host bar where people have to get and pay for their own.

One of our hardest tasks was finding a venue – need to do this first – about 6 months in advance.

Early November is a good month for this kind of event – a boring month with not much else going on, far enough pre-Christmas so people are not feeling rushed, but close enough to stimulate sales of Christmas gift items in auction.

We had been told we could safely “oversell” our tickets because some people would not show up. We had 100% attendance. Some people did not get seats at a table and had to sit off to the side at the bar.

Showing the 7 minutes video (HIV/AIDS Easing the Pain) was a short but effective introduction to the cause. No further “speechifyin” was required.

During the live auction make sure someone is delegated to record names of successful bidders and the final price.

Putting all the smaller value items up as raffle draws was an excellent idea.

At an event like this people are not interested in listening respectfully to music – just go with taped music next time.

Need good lighting where the “money-takers” are working.

Gogo members should wear identifying name badges.

WE HAD FUN!!!!! Both on the evening, but also in working on this and making new friends and getting to know each other better.

Carolyn Usher