Never Too Early to Think Gala

Auctions are funny.


Jacques Brunswick, Apollo Theater

Some items are so  unique that you fear no one will want them. Then they surprise you and bring in lots of cash to support our programs. For instance the welded metal sculpture donated by Sarah Willey of Chaska. It was rustic, well designed, of expert quality craftsmanship — and large. I’ve known Sarah since she was 9 and was concerned that her feelings would be hurt if no one wanted this large piece or bid  a pittance. Sarah wasn’t worried. And there was no need to worry. Sarah’s unique sculpture sparked competitive bidding and ended up in the hands of then Chief Administrative Officer of the Guthrie Theater, Jacques Brunswick, who was transitioning to NYC to assume the role of Chief Operations Officer for the historic Apollo Theatre. After winning Sarah’s piece, he shared that even though his family had to downsize for the move to NYC the piece was moving with them. Sarah’s donation was a win win win: Sarah got creative and knew her creativity and donation made a difference. Jacques – the bid winner- did too and he got to take the piece home and enjoy it. And of course ETI and the people of Karagwe win as the funds and good will generated on their behalf are investments in worthwhile programs that bring water, health and education and transform Tanzania.

Each year the ETI auctions bring in over $10,000 with 2016 setting a new record at over $15,000 which we attribute to the PGA REACH’s generous donation of tickets to the Ryder Cup and to coordinators, Carri Hammett and Kris Vipond. Other gala funds come from ticket sales, sponsorships, individual donations and Giving Moment. All told, ETI donors give $40,000. – $50,000 during the annual gala. Funds are then used to support ETI programs and purposes.

So how might you help?

1. Contribute an item.  
ETI solicits about 80 items for the Silent Auction and 6-10 for the Live Auction. Do you have access to good tickets, entertainment, food and the easiest of all – a good bottle of wine.
2. Contribute an experience.
You in the mood to pull together some part of a fishing, running, climbing, or canoeing package that donors could bid on? Gear, experiences, gift certs work great.
3. Help make a basket. 
Here is an easy one! Provide items for baskets. Gift certificates to fun restaurants or a box of your favorite pasta and fine sauce, a bottle or two of your favorite wine, or..?
4. Get all Pinterest-y.
Is Pinterest your best online friend? Our trendy Pinterest items (palette wine racks, life-size Jenga and others) are hot items. Who knows what the 2017 gala will bring.

Wine Wall, JENGA and Silent Auction Gallery

SA Baskets Karagwe

Handcrafted items from Karagwe bring in donations

5. Contribute a LIVE AUCTION item.
Here are some examples from the past of these higher value items:

Ticket packages (Ryder 2016, Legends Club, 50 Yd Line Vikes & Packers)!

Fine jewelry

Collectibles – Payne Stewart wins 1991 US Open & WWJD bracelet

A week in a beach condo

Disney adventures

Golf outings at metro clubs

Gourmet Meals

A week on “The North Shore”

Special event cake for 200

Downton Abbey set quilt

African celebration drums

23cake necklace-2015-003








Asante sana (thank you very much) to ETIs first Auction Coordinator in 2011 —Ms. Jill Gugisberg Wall— co-founder of Farnsworth Aerospace School in St. Paul. Jill developed the categories and built a data base for item solicitation, procedures for donation and delivery of items, presentation of the auction prior to and at the annual gala and procedures for the bidding process to donor pick up. Jill did this for two years and remarkably showed up at the gala post surgery for both years (yes, both years)! Jill’s work gave ETI a solid framework that was built upon by other dedicated Auction Coordinators:

Jill Gugisberg Wall (rt) at Gala

Jill Gugisberg Wall (rt)


Laurie Aasen


Carri Hammett

Awards Jim & Kris

2017 Auction Coordinator, Kris Vipond & Family

Ms. Laurie Aasen coordinated two  auctions 2013-2014 where African jewelry, mats, baskets and more were highlighted. Her attention to last minute detail and ability to refine and organize brought the auction to a new level.

Then Ms. Carri Hammett and Ms. Kris Vipond took over in 2015 and 2016 and added creative textiles, Pinterest, handcrafted home items, some sweet suite tickets, a wine wall and focus on fun presentation. Refinements and creativity knew no bounds.

2017 puts Kris Vipond at the helm and she’d love your help.

Put your creativity visor on. 
You can reach us at [email protected].
We look forward to hearing from you!

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