Planning the Chicago TARDIS Charity Auction

chitardis2015As an active social change agent, I always “practice what I preach” and have a healthy set of interests outside of my professional efforts. As a very active Doctor Who fan, I always look forward to organizing the Chicago TARDIS charity auction. It’s a great opportunity for me to stay involved, keep my skills up, but more importantly, continue to engage partners, volunteers, and
attendees around raising funds and awareness for Northern Illinois Food Bank, who supports food pantries and other organizations in the western suburbs.

After running it for two years, one of the challenges of running the Chicago TARDIS Charity Auction is now making it a bit more solid. After two years of “test runs” and raising approximately $5,600, we set a 2015 fundraising goal of $3,000 – it’s a small, incremental amount but provides enough incentive for engaging partners, donors, bidders, and other interested parties. Part of that means encouraging both small cash and donation of non-perishable food items as part of the overall outreach. It also means working with various other “departments” to make the Chicago TARDIS charity auction a success – everything from spare boxes from Registration to coordinating volunteer needs. It’s a great way to sharpen the kind of collaboration skills that many nonprofits and social ventures discuss as part of their day-to-day work.TARDIS at Pumping Station

Another key challenge is using technology to make certain things easier. Much of Chicago TARDIS’ collaboration happens via e-mail, with regular  in-person planning meetings to outline and discuss potential issues. On a personal level, I often use Trello as a simple project management tool (first used in collaboration with a client), and LibreOffice allows me to run spreadsheets and create documents without much effort. Social media plays a key role, as Twitter and Facebook serve as primary channels to engage Doctor Who fans around Chicago TARDIS (and the charity auction). During the event, we use Northern Illinois Food Bank’s donation page to process credit card payments, making issuing receipts, getting payments to the organization, and other matters easier. Working Chicago TARDIS is a great collaborative effort, and it’s one of the best things about being a socially-minded Doctor Who fan – everyone gets into the spirit.

So now comes the greatest challenge – and a way that you might be able to help. One of my key roles as Chicago TARDIS Auction Director is to solicit items for bidding in the Live and Silent Auctions. My primary focus is to solicit items that will engage fans willing to spend money, and consist of a variety of items, including

  • High end memorabilia;
  • Photos, mementos, and other items;
  • Gift certificates; and
  • Fan-created items.

(And yes, people do pay for items – an autographed copy of Big Finish’s Zagreus net $300; a prop from a classic Who story went for a similar prize; and fan-crafted items like scarves can often sell for $70 and over. It sounds rather capitalistic, but when raising money for charity….every little bit helps).

And so, the pitch – if you would like to help us this year, the Chicago TARDIS Charity Auction always welcomes donations of Doctor Who (or other science fiction-related) memorabilia. (Just send an e-mail to with any questions). You’re also more than welcome to please forward this blog post via social media, because we’re really want to get the word out. If you would like to make a donation directly, please head to – simply provide your information, write “Chicago TARDIS 2015 Auction” in the Comments, and after donating, please forward a copy of the receipt to the aforementioned e-mail address.

It’s wonderful when professional and personal interests collide, and working as Chicago TARDIS Auction Director is something I look forward to every year. It’s a great conference with a great staff….and which demonstrates the power that collaboration can have upon positive impact in the greater community.

Any comments or questions? Know of any other conferences which sponsor similar activities? Please feel free to leave your thoughts and insights below, or join the greater conversation on our Facebook page.  You can receive updates via e-mail (instructions below), and you are welcome to contact me personally: my contact information is available via this blog’s  About page.

And as always, thanks for reading!
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