A great time was had by all at the Brickell Trick or Treat Crawl hosted by the Miami AmeriCorps Alums on Saturday, October 27. Brickell is a prominent neighborhood in the city of Miami, where many banks are headquartered and features many great bars and restaurants such as the Blue Martini, Red Bar, and the Blackbird Ordinary.
“Had a really great time last night! Finally met a great group of people in Miami”, claimed Lara B, a current serving AmeriCorps member working in Miami-Dade.
“It was fun! (Miami AmeriCorps Alums) did a great job of putting that together!” claimed Nicole T, an alum and active member of the Miami chapter.
Formed to celebrate AmeriCorps and Halloween, while raising money to support the Miami chapter, the Brickell Trick or Treat Crawl attracted over 50 participants and raised over $800.
The idea to put on a bar crawl belonged to Naomi R., a current serving VISTA and service-superstar who had attended and helped organize crawls for a causes previously and enthusiastically invests much of her time in philanthropic causes.
The Miami AmeriCorps Alums decided on Brickell as the location for the crawl by polling potential crawlers on our Alum facebook page where they would like to visit. Naomi then identified potential restaurants and bars to donate free drinks and/or appetizers to our crawlers. We choose to accept appetizers to help cater to our non-drinking friends and alums. Once the five participating bars were established, we set a date and gave ourselves about 4 weeks to promote the event through social media, e-newsletters, free on-line event calendars, and word of mouth. We also sought the advice of friends who have put together bar crawls for causes previously and obtained the disclaimer wording we used to protect ourselves from potential liability.
We designed and printed 1,000 flyers, which cost about $50. We asked a friend who owned a printing company for a discount on the flyers in exchange for partial sponsorship, where the company was allowed to put their logo on the back of the flyer. We also bought wristbands (very expensive!), tickets, candy, and other supplies, which totaled another $50 or so.
The biggest challenge was selling tickets. We decided to charge $25 and give alums and current serving AmeriCorps members a steep discount. We sold most of the tickets online using Eventbrite and set up a small website to promote the event as well. To initiate more ticket sales, we would put tickets on sale for $15 for non-AmeriCorps guests at various times of the week using the Eventbrite promotion code feature. These promotions were targeted towards specific groups, so that if we wanted our local Rotaract friends to attend we gave them the code “CGRotaract” to enter and receive a limited time discount.
We probably spent 5 hours a week or more selling tickets on facebook, twitter and at many different social gatherings, with that number increasing the week before the event. Naomi may have even spent more time than that! During that week, we spent additional time getting the logistics together, such as making signs, preparing sign-in sheets, creating liability disclaimers, preparing the tickets, and shopping for last minute items like whistles to help in the transition from bar to bar, not to mention putting our costumes together!
We had volunteers help the day-of the event with registration and aiding in the transition from bar to bar. Naomi, camera in hand, took awesome pictures of everyone having a good time. Afterwards, we placed the pictures on facebook and shared them in our newsletter. Local bloggers from Soul of Miami also attended the event, took pictures, and placed them on their website as well, an awesome cross-promotion opportunity!
If we could do it all over again, we would have established an events committee or something similar to help in the sales of tickets and other marketing needs. A committee of 10 members who could sell 10 tickets each would have made selling tickets much easier. The success of this crawl, however, may make recruiting events committee members easier for the next event and/or fundraiser!
I think we would also have benefited from giving ourselves more time to promote the event and setting a goal for how many tickets we wanted to sell and how much money we wanted to raise. Our first attempt had no real expectations other than to raise more money than we spent.
Another interesting lesson learned is that holding an event during a holiday has its pros and cons. The pro is that since many people want to go out and celebrate during the holidays, they may decide to join in our activities and purchase our tickets. The con is that there are other competing events and activities already being planned, and some may be more popular and established. The competition was healthy and a lot was going on that week in Miami to celebrate Halloween.
All in all, the fundraiser was an important learning experience for our chapter and brought many alums and current serving members together under a common cause, and I truly believe our chapter was strengthened by putting in all the effort. We will do another fundraiser again in the future knowing that organizing together and having fun together is a great way to build community!