A Post For Board Members Who Will Soon Be Working On a Benefit Dinner-and-Auction

If you are a board member of a community-based organization, chances are good that you will be involved in putting on a special event to raise money. And chances are good that the event will involve an auction...and that you will be asked to procure donations for the auction.

If you have read my November 26th post, you may know where this is going. If not, I'll tell you: Procure those unwanted gifts that  your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, received over the holidays! In other words, ask your contacts to donate their unwanted gifts to your organization's upcoming fundraiser/auction. Not every gift can or will be returned or re-gifted. And what is one person's reject gift is another's treasure. I worked with one organization whose board treasurer donated to its silent auction an unwanted gift - a set of Harry Potter books that had been given to her. That donation became the object of a vigorous bidding war and the source of a generous contribution to the organization. 

Hurry and get those gifts - before they get stashed in the recesses of basements/closets/attics, then forgotten.


An Activism A Day: Use Gift Wrap That's Free & Save A Tree

"I want my living room back!"
On those occasions when you and yours are exchanging gifts, do you sometimes feel as if the wrapping paper and packaging are taking over your living room? 

Imagine living rooms throughout the United States overrun with paper, cardboard boxes, bows, etc. 

Now imagine how many trees could be saved, and how much in raw materials and raw energy could be saved if all the people in all those living rooms trading gifts skipped the wrapping paper. 

Imagine how much money you can save!

You can wrap gifts without using wrapping paper and bows. It's greener, cheaper, and a lot more fun than going to the big box store with the big crowds and the big lines.

Scavenge your home. Here's what you're looking for:

"The first step is recognizing that you have a problem."
  • Stuff that will hold other stuff                                                
  • Stuff that you have too much of                                
  • Stuff that you want to get rid of
  • Stuff that you are done using
  • Stuff that you never use

Here are a few examples:

  • Bandanas                                                             
  • Baskets                                                                                               
  • Book covers
  • Calendars
  • Canisters
  • Christmas stockings
  • Contac paper
  • Cookie jars
  • Dishes (plates, bowls, cups, teapots, etc.)
  • Doilies
  • Fabric scraps
  • Flower pots/vases
  • Funnies
  • Hankies
  • Jars
  • Jewelry boxes
  • Magazine pictures
  • Maps
  • Napkins
  • Old tins
  • Paper grocery bags
  • Photographs
  • Pillow cases
  • Posters
  • Pretty bottles
  • Purses
  • Scarves
  • Stationery
  • Those little cardboard cartons that you get at the farmers' market when you buy a pint of blueberries or strawberries
  • Towels
  • Wallpaper
  • Wine bottle holders
  • Wrapping paper (that you re-use)

Now, what to do instead of bows (which are going to get crushed before the recipient opens the gift anyway) ...

Scavenge your home. Here's what you're looking for:
  • Stuff that's small and flat enough to be affixed to the gifts you just "wrapped"
  • Stuff that's attractive or funny 
  • Stuff that's meaningful to the recipient (Let's say you have gifts for your friend who's a professional dog walker. Instead of bows, you could tape dog bones to her/his gifts.) 
  • Stuff that's extra or no longer useful to you or never going to be useful to you, etc.

    Here are some examples:
    • Balloons
    • Boas (the accessories, not the snakes)
    • Candy
    • Christmas tree ornaments
    • Dried flowers
    • Fake flowers
    • Real flowers
    • Feathers
    • Garland
    • Kitchen items (cocktail umbrellas, tea strainers, napkin rings, …)
    • Lace
    • Old jewelry, broken jewelry parts (the pretty parts)
    • Pine cones
    • Small toys
    • Stickers
    • Tassels
    What have you used to replace wrapping paper, ribbon, and bows?


    Defend Washington State's Basic Health Plan

    In an attempt to balance Washington State’s budget, the legislature is pondering the elimination of our state’s Basic Health Plan, which would cause 35,000 low-income Washingtonians to lose their health insurance. Gee, what’s next?  Will uninsured visitors to the ER be required to bring their own gauze and bandages? Pay for treatment with (their) blood, plasma, and perhaps an organ or two?  Or, maybe, people admitted to the hospital will be required to supply their own meals, plates, bedding, toilet paper, etc. during their stay. Maybe, depending on how mobile, coherent, and contagious they are, patients will be required to “work off” their hospital bills as they convalesce …  e.g. make collection calls, do janitorial work, cashier at the gift shop, and stock shelves.

    It is shameful to balance the budget by denying essential services to people already suffering from the recession (and probably the last round of budget cuts).  It is up to our legislators to put an end to cruel and Dickensian cuts to our state’s budget. And it is up to us, their constituents, to make them do it. Call your legislators. (The legislative hotline number is 1.800.562.6000.) And get your friends and neighbors to call too.