Last Thursday was the vaunted, much-talked about D.C. event of the year – the Climate Ride Happy Hour! Okay, perhaps not so much. Despite it not being highlighted on DCist, I still had a successful event where I met new people, discussed the Ride, and most importantly (for me at least), raised enough money to push me over my goal! Thank you very much to everyone who came.
However, the night started rather discouragingly. After scrambling at work to prepare for a White House event the next day, I arrived at Wonderland Ballroom only 15 minutes before the start time. I assembled all of my signs and raffle ticket paraphernalia on a couple of tables and ran to the bathroom to change into a bicycle t-shirt and jeans. No use being overly work-formal.
My hands nearly shaking, I ordered a drink from the bar and sat behind my table at exactly 5:30 PM. Glancing at the door approximately every 5 seconds, I waited for happy hour-goers – and waited – and waited. A few folks walked in at 6 PM, including my friend Rebecca. Another friend, Eric, stopped by as well. But overall, it was a pretty low turnout. For the number of places I had advertised, it seemed like half of D.C. should have heard about it.
It turned out that 7:30 – a mere half-hour before my planned closing time – was the magic hour. A few folks from Ecolocity, along with two groups of people I had never met, showed up! Surprisingly, some of them knew who I was, even though I didn’t know them. It turned out that their employer is a PR company that is both a Department of Energy contractor and the host of the D.C. Green Scene events calendar. So all of that marketing actually influenced on someone! Another friend from work, John, showed up shortly after with a visitor to D.C. I even chatted with some random Thursday-night drinkers who were interested in my work, even though they just showed up for Wonderland’s bar.
I had a very positive reaction to the raffle, thanks to my great sponsors. I had a “penny social,” where people get to pick which prize they want their tickets to go towards. I figured this would increase the number of tickets I sold as well as guarantee that people received prizes they actually wanted. (Once as a kid I received a gift certificate to a dry cleaners at a book fair, at a time when I pined after books like some kids do new video game systems.) Cafe Green/Java Green’s gift certificate was the most popular prize, partly because it was one of only two “non-sporty” prizes (the other was a Wonderland gift certificate). To quote my friend, “I don’t do things that involve being outside or moving.” The basket for Revolution Cycles was also pretty full, in part because my mom bought $25 worth of tickets. As she ended up winning one of the two $50 gift certificates, it was a good investment.
In the end, everything worked out. I ended up not leaving until past 9 PM, between announcing the raffle late and a very engaging, informed discussion about energy policy. Between the raffle and donations, I earned $145, pushing me over my $2400 goal. So from here on out, I can stop worrying about fundraising and focus strictly on training. I have a lot of miles to put on my bike, so D.C., here I come!