Before Joining a Guild: Ask Yourself These Questions

A guild is an association of people for mutual aid or the pursuit of a common goal. Most nonprofit organizations have a guild made up of volunteers who support the organization through volunteering, fundraising and generating awareness for the organization. Each organization’s guild has their own set of rules, terms and responsibilities. Chances are, if you are the type of person who performs well in the professional world or is a strong community volunteer you may be approached to join a guild. It is an honor to be thought of and invited. Guilds and board are fantastic ways to support organizations within your community and become a more well-rounded individual through service and development. But before you join, consider asking a few questions. We asked League members and one of our sustainers to suggests questions.
joinguildheader
 
League member Katie Triplett looks to understand if joining a guild is going to result in a mutually beneficial relationship for both her and the organization. “In many cases the guild position is just like a job, you want to ensure it’s the right fit for both the potential member and the guild,” says Katie.
  • Does my skill set match what the guild is looking for in their members?
  • Will my experiences be of benefit to the guild?
guild_questions_1
Because each guild is different, you’ll find that some groups are very structured with clear roles and responsibilities while others are organized in a more casual fashion.  It’s helpful to know this before making a decision.
  • What is the organizational structure of the guild?
guild_questions_2
Defining clear expectations before joining a guild is also important. “I like to ensure I’m am working alongside a group of volunteers who all are on the same page in terms of commitment of time and resources,” says Katie.
  • What is the level of engagement of guild members and what will the expectations be?
League member Angela Kros Cutler also focuses on logistics before she commits to adding something to her already busy schedule. She is interested in understanding expectations but also the requirements for the position.
  • Do I have time to contribute at the level that is expected with my other obligations to family/work/organizations?
  • Will there be program volunteer opportunities?
  • Is the guild expected to fundraise?
  • Is there a fun/social aspect?
guild_questions_3
Copy of guild_questions_4
Sustaining member of the League, Kate Schafer, asks direct questions about financial commitment of the organization and philosophical questions of herself when evaluating her involvement. “Ask specifically about the financial requirements. Some guilds ask for more than others and there’s nothing wrong with considering your budget. In terms of being passionate, there are so many guilds you can join, don’t join a guild if you don’t believe in the cause,” says Kate.
  • How much should I expect to contribute financially by paying dues, making donations, funding events?
  • Am I passionate about this organization or cause?
  • Will I enjoy the work this organization is doing?
Copy of guild_questions_5
Copy of guild_questions_5-2
And you have several offers on the table, League member Ashley Hall offers advise about widening your circle. “Sometimes if I’m split between two choices, I may choose the one where I’ll get to work with a whole new group of amazing people and learn from them,” says Ashley.

5 Pro Tips for the Silent Auction Organizer

Organizing a silent auction is not for the faint of heart. The task needs a dedicated leader who is process driven with exceptional organizational skills. This leader must also build enough wiggle room into their plan to grant a little grace to the volunteers helping with the project. When orchestrated well, a solid silent auction can bring in a substantial amount of money at an event.

5 Pro Tips for the Silent Auction Organizer

Ashley Hall is a second year active in the Junior League of Omaha. As the Silent Auction Coordinator for one of the League’s largest fundraisers, Big Red Block Party, her committee’s efforts raised over $14,000 in silent auction revenue. The overall event raised over $32,000.

Members of the League regard Ashley as an authority on silent auction organization. Her committee chair and fellow League member, Katie Triplett agrees. “Ashley goes above and beyond in her organization of a silent auction by creating a donation tracking system that allows for detailed and accurate record-keeping while streamlining the packaging process.  In my experience, Ashley delivers package, price, and descriptions for all items well in advance of an event.” says Katie.

5 Pro Tips for the Silent Auction Organizer

silent_auction_line_items

1. Filters are Your Friend.
“Knowing how to use Excel will save you hours and many, many headaches. Get ready for 20 columns, a master key of colors and highlights, and figuring out just who is lucky enough to have editing permission if sharing the document,” says Ashley.

2. Take it Piece by Piece.
“And I mean, literally, piece by piece. Assuming someone else is handling supervising solicitations, your job starts when the donations roll in. Number everything. The first donation becomes 1. If there are three items in the package they are items 1a, 1b, and 1c. Every single item that is donated gets it’s own line in the spread sheet and gets a tag with that same item number on it. When it comes time to make packages, you make package numbers on your spreadsheet and move the items around. Once you’re happy with the way things look, you can physically find the items you’ve selected for each package and store them together with the materials that will be used to showcase and send home the package,” Ashley advises.

3. Perfection Comes in Layers.
“You don’t have to have the perfect package name or package items right the first time. What’s important is to start somewhere, make your first round of package groupings, or descriptions, or what have you, and then reassess from there. If you shoot for perfection on the first try, it will be extremely overwhelming.” says Ashley.

4. Getting Real = Getting it Right.
“Marking off an area that is equal in size to the true arrangement you will be setting up is crucial. Making a diagram of what packages are going to be showcased in what section and on what support boxes well before the day of the event gives you more time to troubleshoot other issues as they come up on the day of the event. Setting up will take hours regardless, so best be prepared,” says Ashley.
silent_auction_mock_up        silent_auction_layout

silent_auction

5. Create a Support Team or Committee.
“While organization is a key element to the silent auction, there are many parts that will need a lot of hands. You’ll need a dedicated team who is fun to work with and plan on spending the upwards of 200 hours of working on your silent auction. If you put together a strong committee you’ll make new best friends. If you don’t focus on the strength of your committee, you’ll end up with a disaster and doing most of the work yourself,” says Ashley.

In an ideal world there would be enough volunteers for everyone to take on one of the following tasks:

  • Figuring out the silent auction layout at the event
  • Writing witty package names and descriptions
  • Designing and printing labels for bid sheets, packages, the bags the packages go home in, etc…
  • Writing social media posts to tease the items prior to the event spots
  • Creating gift certificates for package winners who don’t have an item to take home, as in they won an experience.

Be sure to call on friends and other community members to understand what they have seen work well at other silent auctions. Recognize that there is always room for improvement and improvise. With hard work, dedication and organization, your silent auction will look fantastic!

silent_auction_labels       silent_auction_event

Special thanks to Ashley Hall and her team Kelly Giese, Lakelyn Hogan and Jessica Dugger  for such a successful production and sharing best practices.