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Recap: The jWeb Charity Rummage Sale 2016

You may have noticed that jWeb has taken a bit of a hiatus on blogging these last couple months. Surprisingly enough, this lull is evidence of a new and exciting annual event: the jWeb Charity Rummage Sale. Therefore, it seems only fitting that we should make our blogging comeback by explaining the good reasons for shifting our attention for a short time.

Over the last two and a half months, jWebbers collected, organized, and priced hundreds of items from our community; spread word of the sale through social media, flyers, and local news sources; and ultimately raised $2,000 at the one-day-only event for our chosen charity, Five Acres Animal Shelter.

IMG_1373Humble Beginnings

Like many conversations I have with coworkers, what started as a casual coffee break rant was actually inspiration for a full-fledged event (that’s one of the joys of working in the marketing department of a small business).

We were discussing the stuff we’d accumulated in our homes and how much we wished we could get rid of it without throwing everything out. The result: a company-wide rummage sale that would unite our business, clients, and friends with the unique St. Charles community.

Choosing the Charity

With hundreds of worthy charities in the world, it can be pretty intimidating to choose just one—especially when you don’t yet know if a fundraiser will become a regularly held event. We eventually settled on Five Acres Animal Shelter for two important reasons:

  • We believe that every business, no matter how big or small, should have a positive impact on its immediate community. With that in mind, jWeb Media is located literally around the corner from Five Acres. They are our neighbors. We can even hear the occasional dog barking in the distance if our windows are open and the wind is still.
  • Five Acres Animal Shelter is a charity everyone can get behind. It was important to us that the charity we chose provides a unique and necessary service to the St. Charles community. However, as a company we also strove to find a charity that would not divide our company or community based on political differences. As the only no-kill animal shelter in St. Charles, Five Acres provided us a charity that represents everyone’s interests. After all, who doesn’t support finding loving homes for doggies and kitties?

On a side note, we are currently taking applications for next year’s charity rummage sale. If you think your charity fits the criteria above, submit an application here.

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Raffle baskets donated by our clients and friends

Getting the Word Out

Choosing Five Acres proved to be a great motivator for my coworkers and jWeb’s greater community. A team of us visited the shelter to learn more about what we were participating in. There, we discovered all the various ways pets came and went from Five Acres, interacted with various cats and dogs currently up for adoption, and got plenty of adorable photo opportunities. From there, we had no trouble getting the word out (Pssst…social media users love cute pictures of animals).

One of the more successful parts of our social media strategy was the Facebook event we created and asked employees to invite their friends and family to. There, we posted details about the event (donation opportunities, photos of items for sale, etc.) because those who RSVP’d as going or interested were more likely to see them. Other promotion activities included:

  • Posting items for sale on Facebook groups such as St. Charles Buy, Sell, Trade
  • Posting great photos to our Instagram account
  • Hanging and handing out flyers in grocery stores and coffee shops around the St. Charles area
  • Submitting formal advertisements to high-traffic sites such as stltoday.com

These actions yielded a lot of involvement from the community, giving us ample opportunity to answer questions, plan logistics, and brainstorm potential additions to make our rummage sale as fun-filled as possible.

Gathering the Troops

As any successful event planner knows, making a successful special occasion takes more than clever advertisements and marketing. It takes people. Therefore, we did everything we could to get our private and public communities involved in charity themselves:

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    All the friendly pooches in one place.

    Donation days: We encouraged people on social media to drop off items for the rummage sale before the big day arrived. This plan was especially helpful as it allowed those who couldn’t make it the day of the sale to still participate in the event.

  • Raffle baskets: Nothing like a low-risk game to generate funds for charity. We had three businesses donate raffle baskets, including our two clients Mid Rivers Equine Centre and TRUE Fitness, and our friends at Stella Rose Apiary. They were a huge hit and contributed nearly $300 to the overall profits made.
  • Five Acres volunteers: It’s not every day that you throw an event for a charity and the charity gets so fully involved. Five Acres volunteers who take dogs on Saturday morning outings stopped by the rummage sale to show of the wonderful pets. We had small dogs, big dogs (we’re talking Great Dane big), and everything in between to show customers exactly who they were helping buy purchasing or donating that day.
  • Employees: Of course, none of this would have been possible without the enthusiastic help of my co-workers. Not only did jWebbers collect a wealth of items to sell, but many came to work on a Saturday at 5:00am or earlier to set up or stayed until 5pm to take everything down.

The Learning Curve

As with anything you do for the first time, there’s always room for improvement. Though our funds raised went above and beyond what we expected, next year’s event will definitely take into consideration:

  • The time crunch: This event was born out of a casual conversation, giving us a limited amount of time to plan, advertise, and collect items for sale. Now that we have a whole year to accomplish what we did in 2 months, we’ll be equipped to spread the word and collect/display items more effectively.
  • The weather: It’s common knowledge that St. Charles summers are unbearably hot. The day of the rummage sale was no exception. By next year, we’ll be better equipped to deal with the heat. Current suggestions are covered tents for the whole parking lot, providing hot-weather refreshments (other than water bottles), and more.

That Said…

Now that the rummage sale is officially over, you can look forward to a cascade of fun and useful content on our blog once again! Subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest tips and trends in the digital marketing world.

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