Playoff PartyCommunity members in Bremerton, Wash., came together to watch the pros in a playoff game, while supporting the high school football team and booster club.
In Bremerton, Wash., the Olympic High School Booster Club held its first 49ers Gathering on Jan. 14. At the event, attendees could come to a local restaurant and watch the game with other fans, in addition to participating in a silent auction and raffle that served as a fundraiser for the Olympic High School Booster Club and football team.
"We got the idea because a former football coach at Olympic High School, Doug Smith, has a son [quarterback Alex Smith] who plays for the San Francisco 49ers," says Booster Club member Lane Dowell. "We didn't know the 49ers would be in the playoffs, so when they qualified, we got to work right away. They had one week off, so it was a two-week period of time to get the 49ers Gathering together."
In order to get the event going, Dowell and his wife asked a local restaurant owner if they could use her facility as the event's venue. After she agreed, the Dowells started getting the word out. With only two weeks to plan, they relied on word of mouth, but also utilized Facebook, and had information about the 49ers Gathering printed in a local newspaper.
"There were a number of people who, after the fact, said they wished they'd been there," Dowell says. "Other people said they'd heard about it, and decided to come see what it was about, and they ended up having a lot of fun. I think as word gets out in future years, it will probably expand quite a bit. But this year, we had a boisterous group of 30 people."
Attendees did not have to buy a ticket or pay admission to come watch the game. "The fundraiser was a silent auction and raffle," Dowell explains. "Doug Smith provided a couple of things that were autographed by his son and we raffled them off.
"Nobody had to do anything to come--it was totally free," he continues. "No one even had to buy anything to eat, but I know the restaurant had a pretty good day, too."
Despite the short planning period, the event was a success--and to top it off, the 49ers won the game. "It was a very good event," Dowell says. "We raised a generous amount, especially for the number of people who were there. We felt really good about what we raised for the school's football team. The people who came were very, very generous. It's something that I think we'll do again next year. I think it will grow."
Dowell has the following advice for clubs that would like to hold a similar event:
- Give your club plenty of time, if you can. Otherwise, use the time you have as well as possible.
- Find a suitable--and affordable--venue.
- Advertise as much as possible. Use media that connects your club to the community, whether it's Facebook or newspapers.
- Make the event's cause well known, in order to draw interest and support.
- Make the sponsors known. It is helpful if the people who are putting on the event are well known, and have a reputation for their work within the community.