Full closet, but nothing to wear? Come to our clothing swap for a cause!

I’m a dreamer. I love to think of ways to make a situation bigger-better-bolder. So when Eventbrite formed a St. Jude fundraising/running team for the upcoming U.S. Half Marathon in San Francisco, I knew it was an opportunity to use our software for a great cause. Here’s how we’re doing it:

Go with what you know

My first thought was to host a clothing swap. I’ve been to many in the city, and even hosted one at my home. I know people will be willing to donate money for entry if they know that all the clothing will be free. I know the supplies I needed to gather. I know the directions I need to give in terms of when to arrive, what to bring, how to swap. I even have groups I can send the invite out to that are dedicated to clothing swaps. I’m very confident I have all my logistical bases covered because I’ve done this before on a smaller scale.

Find a co-host

Eventbrite is situated in the heart of the start-up community, both emotionally and physically. We are lucky enough to share our building with Modcloth.com, and I thought they would be a perfect co-host for our event. Through some fun back-and-forth e-mailing, they generously agreed to donate a beautiful leather purse for a raffle and 20-30 pieces from their current collection to add to the swap. We are ecstatic to add their name to our event page, and are hoping that their partnership will bring more ladies to the event than our name alone. Working with a professional partner on an event that appeals to their audience helps to double your potential attendee list.

Get creative

When I heard that Modcloth.com was going to donate so many items from their collection, I knew we had to emphasize it in our invitation. But simply saying that the items would be donated sounded so…. meh. So I decided to use a treasure hunt angle. We are now ‘hiding’ the items in with the clothing our attendees bring, and Modcloth is putting a special tag on their items so they are easily identifiable. Attendees can hunt for them as they look through the other items, and Modcloth will get huge exposure-our attendees will be specifically looking for their logo all night! If you are able to get a donation from a partner business, try to think of a creative way to integrate it in to your event that will add to the appeal of attending the event.

Do a lot with little

My grand ideas for this event included a red carpet entrance, a modeling photo booth, a donated-item silent auction and lots of camera flashes. I want it to be a first class, New York style fashion event. But, of course, I don’t want to use any of our ticket money on these items, as it’s a fundraiser.

I turned to Freecycle.org and have gotten a white runway carpet donated from a wedding. I’m taking a bit of orange fabric dye to it and –viola!-we have an Eventbrite orange runway carpet. My co-worker, Antwonne, is an expert at the Step and Repeat. He and some friends are volunteering to photograph the ladies as they enter, treating them like the fashion models they want to be that night. My husband is great with his digital camera and has figured out how to create a photo booth that the ladies can model their new outfits in. We’ll post all the photos to Eventbrite’s Facebook page and they can tag themselves. Modcloth donated a gorgeous leather purse and instead of an over-the-top silent auction, we’re going to do a single raffle for this coveted accessory. These small touches will make our attendees feel as though they are at a first class fashion event without taking from the money we raise for our cause.

Organize, organize, organize

Lastly, I have all my supplies ready and it’s still a couple days out from the event. Signs are printed. Clothing racks are secured. Volunteers are assigned. All we need are attendees. You can never be too prepared, and we are taking that to the extreme. We’re thinking ahead to everything that could go wrong (iPhone scanners AND a check-in list), and we’re preparing for it. It might not be a huge event at a large venue, but we want our attendees to feel that this event is well-managed and that they are being taken care of. After all, our name is all over it.

If you are interested in attending our Eventbrite Clothing Swap and seeing these ideas in action, visit www.ebclothingswap.eventbrite.com! We’ll have lots of Eventbrite volunteers who can talk to you about your next event and advise on how to make it a smashing success.