Remember Team Fox members Barbara and Victor Calaba? We introduced you to them earlier this year. They threw their first event on February 4—it was a night of tennis and more that raised more than $33,000 for Team Fox.
We caught up with Barbara to see what they learned while planning and throwing their first event. Anyone interested in engaging the community and setting a great example for your kids, take note. Barbara talks about her successful fundraising, taking advantage of matching gifts, and including her daughter in the event.
Team Fox: Describe your event for us – how many people showed up, what were the activities, etc.
Barbara Calaba: Our event was Play for Parkinson's - a night of tennis with a round robin mixed doubles tournament where there were five rounds of tennis, partners were switched each round, and scores were kept and totaled. We had prizes for the 1st and 2nd place winners (for top finishers of men and women). We had 50 people attend, with about 30 playing tennis. While the tennis was going on, there was a catered cocktail party at the same time. By the end of the evening, there were martinis on the court and it made for a very festive evening! We also had a silent auction—prizes included an hour of tennis with John McEnroe, rare wines (1989 Chateau Margaux, 1991 Haut Brion), a wine tasting for 12, Interior Design consultation, Wilson tennis gear, and tennis lessons donated by local pros.
TF: This was your first Team Fox event. How did it live up to your expectations?
BC: The event and experience surpassed our expectations. It was so personally rewarding to raise awareness of PD and The Michael J. Fox Foundation, and it was amazing how many people came forward about having relatives with PD. We were also amazed at the generosity of our friends and others we didn't even know. In a way, it is difficult to ask people to donate, especially in an economy that is difficult. But it was much easier than we expected it to be. We had never done anything like this before, so it was amazing to see how much everyone supported us.
In addition, our 8-year old daughter attended the event and helped out by setting up, hanging banners and logging the scores. She really wanted to be involved in the event and ended up staying until the end when we went home at 1:00am! It was really great that she was a part of it and knew she was making a difference.
It was just so rewarding to feel that we can make a difference and help get us closer to better treatments and a cure for PD. We can't wait to have the event again next year!
TF: You raised more than $30,000. Did you implement a particular fundraising strategy?
BC: We really struggled with how to price the event so that we could raise as much money as possible without pricing people out. We ended up with a suggested donation to attend, which allowed those to pay what they could. We found with the suggested donation, many donated more than the suggested amount. Matching gifts were also a very important part of our fundraising and we are hoping for more to come in. Lastly, my parents were generous to pay for all the staff and catering (probably our largest cost), and Victor and I paid for all the other costs of the event so that everything donated went directly to the Foundation. That was important to us.
TF: What was your biggest obstacle while planning? If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?
BC: The biggest obstacle was planning the tennis event and getting over our hesitation of trying to find the right amount for the suggested donation. I think we spent a lot of time figuring out what amount would allow us to have the perfectly sized crowd and make the event special. I think we were successful at this. Everyone had such a great time at the event and many offered to help in planning, sponsoring, etc. for next year. Friends offered to help us grow the event and make it bigger next year. And that is one thing I would have done differently. Victor and I planned everything ourselves, hit the pavement for silent auction items, etc. Next year, we will definitely involve more friends to help us bring it all together and make it bigger! The club where we had the event already offered to donate the club for the event next year (we paid to have it there this year). And many of our silent auction donors want to be involved next year.