About five months in advance of the May '09 event, we began a weekly (email) campaign to members announcing/promoting our upcoming auction – "the good stuff that never made it to eBay" – in conjunction with a "Deflation Dinner." The Committee sought auction items ("good stuff") from members' homes, primarily, and, in addition, solicited gift certificates for dinners, movies, gifts – the usual. The 400+ items were listed on our website &updated weekly.
To make the evening compelling, we looked to congregational history: Our Brotherhood, in the '50s, hosted deflation dinners at inexpensive prices. Our Committee decided to prepare a variety of gourmet parve pasta dishes and salads, Gravlox, breads, fancy desserts -- all donated & prepared by synagogue volunteer cooks – in order to keep the cost at $18/person. The evening also included free-flowing wine and the highlight, Jell-o shots, as well as music, all included in the price.
The worse the economy became, the better our event looked – see how much one can get for $18? We also added sponsorship components, in keeping with the deflationary theme: Tin sponsorships were $300; Aluminum sponsorships were $150; & Cardboard sponsorships were $75. Over 250 people attended this event, a real microcosm of the congregation – some came for an inexpensive meal; some came for the camaraderie; some came for great auction buys; some came because their friends were coming. The event netted just over $23,000 and expenses were just over $3,700. The community spirit the event generated and the community-building that went on were unparalleled in our history. As one of our members said, "This is the largest turnout for a social event since the High Holy Days." Who knew hard times could be so good?