Category Archives: Organizations

Philosophy on fundraisers..

The VNSF 6th Annual Benefit Event was last friday and it was awesome! In planning the event, it suddently occurred to me that I’ve been organizing this even for 4 years now!  Crazy how time flies.  I hope we’ve finally found our home because every year has been at a different venue.  =)
From the very first year I was involved, my goals for the fundraiser were simple:
  1. Revenue – that’s kind of the whole point of the event. =)
  2. Message – have people walk away with an understanding of what VNSF does and feel a connection to our kids
  3. Fun & memorable – make it an evening people look forward to going to because it’s different, fun and exciting every year. 

Here’s my self-assessed report card from the last 4 years:

2007 – 3rd Annual Benefit Event at Tamarind Tree

  • Revenue – B
  • Message – A
    small, intimate setting made it easy to capture the audience’s attention and we gave a good update on what we do and shared stories about our interview trip
  • Fun & memorable – B-
    The Wii Tennis competition between the top 2 live auction bidders for the Nintendo Wii game system was a hit and still talked about today.

2008 – 4th Annual Benefit Event at Burke Museum

  • Revenue – B+
  • Message – C
    We couldn’t get a captive audience and failed to really convey any meaningful information.
  • Fun & memorable – C
    No games.  But being at museum was memorable.  We also learned people like the opportunity to mingle, network, etc.

2009 – 5th Annual Benefit Event at ACRS

  • Revenue – A
  • Message – B+
    We were able to get a captive audience, but we didn’t really put together good content. =(
  • Fun & memorable – B
    The trivia game was kind of fun and a little engaging, but not very memorable.

2010 – 6th Annual Benefit Event at New Holly

  • Revenue – A-
  • Message – A
    We gave people time to network & mingle uninterrupted and then called for their attention in one solid block of time. The content was great – a good update on our programs as well as a slideshow w/ photos & quotes from our kids.  Great balance.
  • Fun & memorable – A+
    Minute-to-Win-it games to earn dessert for your table were not just fun to play but fun to watch!  They had a wondeful amount of controversy, which will sure t make the event memorable.

I’m not sure what I’ll do next year, but it’s sure to involve games. =)

The Perfect End…

I have been working since 8am this morning for a small dinner VNSF hosted for our most loyal and generous donors.  Here’s how my day looked:
7:30am     Woke up, got ready for the day
8:00am     Had breakfast
8:15am     Finalized the agenda/time table for the evening
9:00am     Headed to Ben Franklin to buy cardstock to print menu cards for the guests   
10:00am   Finalized menu cards, printed, and assembled them
11:30pm   Lunch while watching "Lie to Me"
1:00pm     Head to the hostesses house to help prepare the dinner
1:30pm     Started washing dishes, setting the table, chopping food, etc.
5:30pm     Dinner service begins and for the next 6 hours I was on my feet – prepping food, plating dishes, cutting garnishes, washing dishes, cleaning up
10:30pm   The last guest leaves and we start washing the last of the dishes, bag & box the nice silverware and dishes, wipe down all the tables, counters, etc.
11:30pm   Head home
12:00am    Turn on boob tube, poured bowl of cheetos, and start surfing to find something to watch and decompress.  On comes my all-time favorite movie…
The Princess Bride… I could not have chosen a better way to end such a LONG day.
Big thanks to our Chef and Hostess for donating a wonderful 5-course dinner for 10.  And many many thanks to my volunteers who came in shifts to help me out–I would have fainted from exhaustion if not for your help!
One more event tomorrow and then I have another 60-70hour work week to look forward to.  Woohoo!!

A good month for VNSF

I had a GREAT vnsf day! 
First, I picked up the VNSF mail and we got a lot of money!  This doesn’t always happen.  First, we have an upcoming event (that you should go to if you can — the Long Restaurant Opening).  I was happy to see so many registrations.  Yay!  There’s still space, so go online and register now.   Second, we got a bunch of microsoft giving and matching from last year’s benefit event and giving campaign.   Double YAY!!  Money coming into the organization is always a good feeling.  Big, huge thank you to all the VNSF donors and supporters.  In particular, those of you who do payroll deduction — that level of committment to our organization is amazing and much appreciated.
Second, I found an event planner!!  I’m so excited.  I posted on for some positions on my Fundraising Committee and I got 3 responses.  I scheduled a meeting with 2 and met one of them this evening.  She’s energetic, passionate, and seems reliable.  She’s volunteered before, she’s run clubs and organizations and she’s passionate about event planning.  O… I could barely contain my excitement!  I’m SO looking forward to working with her.  I have had trouble recruiting for my committee before but I have high hopes for my new recruit.  I’m so jazzed.  It’s nice when you’re recruiting and you find that perfect fit.  It’s exciting!! Yay yay yay… what a good day!  Open-mouthed

Now I can breathe…

Yesterday was the big VNSF Volleyball Tournament and Summer Picnic (photos posted here:  After a long, anxious week filled with checking the weather every 2 hours and VNSF meetings every other day, we got perfect weather for both events.  It was perfectly overcast and just the right temperature for the volleyball tourney.  I couldn’t have asked for anything better.  It made 5 hours of volleyball not just bearable but actually quite pleasurable beyond just the enjoyment of volleyball.  Most of us lingered to play another few hours of volleyball even after the tournament by which time it started to actually get sunny (hot) and extremely windy. 
I’m sore all over from 7+ hours of volleyball, but I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than to play volleyball with my friends and all for a good cause to boot!  =)
The picnic was also a great success.  It was intentionally planned for the same day and co-located with the tournament to give the volleyball players free food after a long day of volleyball.  It couldn’t have worked out better!  And I think the volleyball players were grateful for the food.  The picnic site was close enough we could grab food and bring it right back to the volleyball courts for some more volleyball.  What made the picnic a success though was all the wonderful food people brought!  It was quite a feast and we darn near finished it all!!
I have to say, on the day of these events, I had the fortune to just play in the tournament (since one team was short and couldn’t find a 4th player) and really just hang out with my friends (who made up most of the other teams that played… and in fact, though not necessarily my friends, I’ve played with or against most of the other teams who signed up for the tourney).  I have to thank my wonderful board members for running the show yesterday…
Uyen, who basically set everything up, got a lot of the food, etc.
Paul, who kept score and helped me run the volleyball tournament and then later help set up the picnic
Vu, who was everywhere and did everything — from picking up last minute items, photographed the events, helped keep score, and most importantly manned the grill — though a vegan, he grilled korean bbq ribs, chicken and hot dogs to perfection!
Sindy, our board advisor, who brought food, provided moral support and entertained the guests. 
It was really nice to just have a fun picnic with out supporters that wasn’t about fundraising and just about having fun!
And now that these events are over, bright and early this morning, I’m meeting with my fundraising committee to continue planning our big event of the year — the 4th Annual Benefit Dinner — September 5th at the Burke Museum — mark your calendars!!

I gave birth…

About a year and a half ago, we decided it was time.  We knew it would be a lot of work but we figured we had each other and a healthy support system to pitch in and help up if we ever felt overwhelmed.  So, we took the plunge and we did it!  Of course, I quickly realized even though I had support, most of the responsibility would rest on my shoulders.  So here we are… my baby has finally arrived!  I’ll be the first to admit it’s not super snazzy or anything, but I love it all the same.  Check it out for yourself… my baby… the newly redesigned VNSF website!

A good kind of tired

This has been a brutal week… made better only by the fact that it’s Friday and I look forward to nothing more than doing nothing tonight.
I think I’m going to miss my nephew’s baptism next sunday.  =(  It sucks since I usually try to make all the major events of my nieces’ and nephews’ lives.  I don’t think I can get a good deal on tickets unfortunately. 

Super Exhausted

Tet in Seattle Day 2.  Not quite as early a start but just as long of a day.  After two days, we were able to:
  • Paint over 100 little faces!
  • Hand out nearly 200 brochures
  • Hand out 130 "Save the date" magnets
  • Get 75 emails
  • Raise THREE times as much in donations as we did last year!!

Face painting was a huge success!! Even I got one!

TIS 106    TIS 176

On the downside, I wasn’t able to watch the Super Bowl and root the Patriots to a victory.  So much for making history.  =(

Just cause he’s cute and I just found this pic:

TIS 007 "You talkin’ to me?"


Today was day 1 of Tet in Seattle.  It started off not so hot when Rocky "escaped" while I was loading my car with all the stuff for TIS.  It look forever to lure him back in the house.  I didn’t think I’d be able to since he LOVES going outside and he’s been stuck under house arrest for probably a year now.   At the end of the day, he can’t say no to tasty cat treats! =)  So it was off to Tet in Seattle…
I figured today I would just be helping out here and there.  I had the booth staffed to the gills… at 3-4 volunteers working the booth and then our face painter.  I brought my laptopl, some reading material, etc.  I figured I could hang out, get some work done, maybe help out here or there.  Well, there was none of that!  My face painter for the day bailed, so I ended up having to face painter!  Eeek!!  I dont have to tell you I am no artist.  And kids can be brutally honest.  =)  It was especially scary when the first little girl asks for the butterfly, which is the hardest design!!  Once I got through that one, I was good to go.   My real measure of success was this one girl who brought probably 4 other kids to me… her brother, her friends, even her baby sis.  She brought everyone but her parents! 
The only sad part was, after I was done painting the kids’ face, their parents would tell their kid to thank me.  In the Vietnamese language, there are specific ways to address people depending on how old the other person is relative to you.  All these kids addressed me as "Auntie"… which is kind of equivalent of being called Ma’am.  I feel old.  Especially as I sit here after 10 hrs at TIS… I’m all sore and achy.  And I’ve got another 8 hours tomorrow!
I’m really proud of my committee and my volunteers.  They really pulled through.  The face painting idea was genius because it got a ton of people to our booth.  In one day, we more than doubled what we raised last year!  We haven’t hit our revenue projection yet, but we’ve still got tomorrow.
(Go Patriots!!)

Tet in Seattle

If you’re reading my blog and you live in Seattle, come by the Seattle Center this weekend to check out Tet in Seattle (  It’s a celebration of Lunar New Year.  There’s lots of exciting entertainment, food, crafts, etc.  Plus, you can stop by the Viet Nam Scholarship Foundation booth where we’ll be doing free face painting (Sat. afternoon and all day Sunday) and a raffle for an 8Gb MP3 player.  =)