Happy November everyone! What an absolute whirlwind the last two months have been creating and opening and operating our latest crazy fundraising project! I have tried to be really intentional about resting on Sundays and last night I slept nearly all day - something I never do on purpose. I was just sooooooo wiped out!
I feel much more rested today though, and I am so excited to share how Damian's Not-So-Haunted House went!!!
First of all, I can't express enough thanks to everyone who was involved and helped with this. From the beginning I knew this would be our most ambitious fundraising project to date, and so often over the past two months I felt that the only way I could pull this off was to delegate and allow others to come in and help me in substantial ways. There were many of you online who repeatedly asked for me to make an Amazon gift registry and I am so thankful for you!! When I finally did post it, every item was purchased in about 2 hours and many more people donated to a general fund to help offset all the purchases I was making at Home Depot and Walmart. What a HUGE weight that was off my shoulders!!
And then there were so many who volunteered their time to help me build, paint, and decorate our non-spooky walkthrough, not to mention those who donated baked goods and those who came just to help manage everything every night! I couldn't tell you how many hands helped with this project but if I had to estimate I would say it was around 35-40 kids/teenagers and 30-35 adults who helped me bring Damian's Not-So-Haunted House to life. PEOPLE ARE SO GOOD.
Our opening night was scheduled for Friday, October 20th. If you had been there that morning, you would have screamed. I was so far beyond feeling from a severe lack of sleep (and literally running my head into a 2x4 twice that morning) that I didn't scream, but I was certainly stressed because there was still SO much to do.
Thanks to a friend's quick thinking and texting skills, she gathered a small army to help us get to the finish line in the last few hours before our first guests arrived.
The Full Walk-Through
After the first weekend (which went GREAT by the way, more on that later!) of course I spent the first half of the following week "plussing it up" and ultimately made it just about exactly what I wanted it to be.
If you haven't already seen it, here is the final product!!!
We were on the NEWS!!
Our first weekend went absolutely great, and considering that I was spending all my time building and not much time advertising, we had a great turnout. But the following week, along with adding final touches to the walkthrough, I spent a lot more time online in various Facebook groups and posting advertisements to our local community.
During Damian's bi-weekly infusion at Children's Hospital, I even reached out to a bunch of local news stations (most news websites have a "submit a tip!" form you can fill out) and to my ABSOLUTE delight, I got word back from a few of them, including our local ABC station!
Thursday morning I got a call from them asking if they could come over early that afternoon, which gave me a couple hours to get everything in the garage cleaned up and ready for live TV!
Our News Coverage
Here are the clips to all of our news spots (at least the ones I've found so far, let me know if I'm missing one!)
By the way, all the news stations above are actively tracking how many people click on the links I've posted, so it really helps us when people click the link, share the link, etc. because it tells the news stations to do more stories like this!
I owe the collection of this data to my parents, who traveled from out-of-state and helped me operate Damian's Not-So-Haunted House for the last 4 nights we ran it. My dad cleverly insisted on getting a tally counter (those clicker things) to keep count of everyone who came, and my mom counted the cash donations from the bake sale every night.
Can you believe how we did???
In case it's hard to see the image or decipher my table, in the first 3 nights, we had a combined attendance of about 270 guests (it might be more than that, that's just my best guess!) and made a combined $3,940. For the next 4 nights we averaged 200 guests and an incredible $1790 in donations every night for a total of:
1,073 total visitors
$10,645.81 in donations
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!?!?!!?! AAAAHHHH!!!!
In my highest hopes my aim was to maybe make $10,000 with everything combined - the bakesale, donations from sharing reels online, and possible news coverage exposure.
Y'all - this was just from the people who were there in person!!!! I'm working on adding up all donations that have come in throughout the time we were working on this project, so I don't know exactly how much more we would add if we included ALL donations given throughout the past month and a half, but it's somewhere along the lines of an extra $3,000 or $4,000. I am STUNNED. This has been our most lucrative fundraiser yet.
It has also been one of the most meaningful to me. Not just because as a theme park designer this type of project is right up my alley, but because of all of you who jumped in and wanted to participate in it in any way you could (and that absolutely includes those of you who simply shared the reels that I posted!!! It HELPS!!!!). This truly felt like a group project in the best kind of way. And those of you who I got to meet in person - whether you were donating baked goods or if you made the time to bring your family to experience the walkthrough - it was so so special to me to put faces to the names who I often see online in this growing community! As we transition into the annual season of gratitude, I couldn't be more thankful for each of you. I love you all SO much!!
I'm now going to take a couple more nights to catch up on sleep and then I'll address what was the second-most frequently asked question every night at Damian's Not-So-Haunted House:
"What are you going to do next???"
By the way, I'm pleased to say that the most frequently asked question was "Can we do it again?" :)