Q&A: Auction Talk with Erica Ostroski | Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City

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Q&A: Auction Talk with Erica Ostroski

When Erica Ostroski, BBBSKC Director of Special Events, began her role at the agency in 2008, The Most Wanted Auction brought in $35,000 and 200 event attendees respectively. We sat down with Ostroski to learn how the event has become one of the hottest charity event tickets in town, bringing in sellout crowds and over $357,000 in 2015. 

This 11th annual event, which will take place on December 3rd at Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland, highlights KC’s best and brightest as Most Wanted Honorees. New media partner, The Independent, will be joining the party this year and featuring the Honorees in their November issue and social media channels. The Most Wanted Auction has been crowned the agency’s second largest annual fundraiser and we think the best is still yet to come for this event when we look at the extraordinary 2016 class of KC’s Most Wanted Honorees. 

Erica Ostroski, Director of Special Events
Erica Ostroski, Director of Special Events

BBBS: What does it mean to be one of KC’s Most Wanted? 

EO: We all know that Kansas City is packed full of talented, charitable, successful, dynamic leaders. BBBSKC and The Independent think these individuals deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments and their ambitions. Honorees truly are KC’s Most Wanted- they are being nominated for awards, featured in local publications, praised for their talents, asked to join committees and boards, involved in giving back to their communities and they are real change makers in their professional arenas as well. Most Wanted Honorees are the game changers that successful companies, individuals and nonprofits want to surround themselves with. We will feature and celebrate the 2016 Class of KC’s Most Wanted Honorees in The Independent this November and on stage at The Most Wanted Auction at Arvest Bank Theater at The Midland on December 3rd. There are 37 Honorees this year and four are participating as couples with their spouse.

BBBS: So, where does the fundraising element come into play for The Most Wanted Honorees? 

EO: That’s what’s so much fun about this event! Honorees actually compete to raise the most money possible for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City. From September through December, they are fundraising through their own personal campaigns and many of them even plan events to raise funds leading up to the auction. They are also working hard to put together truly unique live auction packages that will be up for bids at the event. The night of the auction, each Honoree will take the stage to receive an award and they will watch, as the auction package they worked so hard to put together, goes up for bids. Honorees also contribute to an online silent auction, which will go live on November 14th, staying open for bids until Dec. 3rd. We celebrate the top three Honoree fundraisers the night of the event. On Dec. 3rd, we plan to exceed our big $350,000 fundraising goal and it will all be due to the commitment and support of these phenomenal Honorees.  

BBBS: What’s the selection process like for each Class of Most Wanted Honorees? 

EO: Year after year, we are overwhelmed at the response for KC’s Most Wanted Honoree nominations and applications. Individuals are notified when a friend or coworker nominates them and then they are asked to fill out an official application. Applications are reviewed and individuals are moved onto a round of phone interviews. After learning more about each nominee, formal application packets are put together and a committee made up of representatives from the event media partner, Most Wanted Honoree Alumni and BBBS Board of Directors are faced with the task of selecting the new class. It’s not an easy job for the committee, as they review an overwhelming number of incredible applications each and every year.

BBBS: Talk to us about The Most Wanted Auction, what can attendees expect?

EO: I think The Most Wanted Auction is actually pretty unique in the sense that it’s not a typical, sit down, boring, stuffy auction. This event is pretty lively! People are up, moving around, talking, enjoying themselves during the entire event. The auction itself is very fast paced and it’s designed that way to keep the energy level high and to present the 35+ incredible live auction packages we have up for bids in a timely and exciting manner. There are great drinks, delicious food and our auctioneer, Tanna Guthrie, is the best at what she does. We play a video about each Honoree as they take the stage as well; it’s fun to celebrate each individual and all of their hard work the night of the event before announcing our grand total and sending attendees off to a fun after-party. We are holding the event at Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland for the first time this year; which is exciting as well. Tickets are on sale now but I wouldn’t wait to purchase because the event has brought in sellout crowds for the past three years. No matter if you purchase a VIP Premium Table, VIP Open Seating or GA Ticket- you are sure to have a great experience.

BBBS: What do you like most about The Most Wanted Auction?  

EO: I would honestly have to say the best thing about this event is our Honorees. Each year I meet with these individuals to help them put together their fundraising campaigns and auction packages and they never cease to amaze me. The Honorees truly deserve to be celebrated, they are so generous with their time and resources. They are already doing great things in their professions and in the KC community- that’s why they were nominated in the first place. But, to witness their willingness to go above and beyond for BBBS and to give back in this way is really inspiring. Each of them volunteer their time and use their own personal and professional resources to make their fundraising campaigns and auction packages successful. I love my job because I really get to know these Honorees and many of them stay connected to the agency for years. The Most Wanted Honoree Alumni group has really become family to the BBBSKC development and events staff. Many of them get involved by becoming Bigs, Big Impact Group members, fundraisers at other BBBS events or even Board members. Also, there’s nothing like raising big bucks to help our kids! All of the money brought in through this event stays here in KC and helps us match more of our 450+ waiting kids with a Big. I know the friendships we create truly change lives for the better and that’s something worth working really hard for! 

BBBS: Eleven years of The Most Wanted Auction, what’s some of the biggest and best auction packages you have seen the Honorees put together over the years?  

EO: Gosh, that’s hard because there have been so many amazing Honorees and auction packages! I think I need to go David Letterman style and do a Top 10 list- in no particular order though…

  1. Extreme Home Makeover: Landscaping, interior design, flooring, bathroom remodel, light fixtures, furniture and more.
  2. Royal Treatment with Salvador Perez: Lunch with Sal at Empanada Madness, limo to the game, 4 VIP game tickets, signed Perez memorabilia and on-field experience. Come on, it’s Salvador Perez- this one is hard not to love.
  3. Ultimate Advertising Package: Print ads, radio ads, tv ads, billboards, banners, logo design, photo shoots, printing, video services, logoed merchandise, etc. Unique packages like this go over so well and this one brought in some big bucks.
  4. Mardi Gras Extravaganza: Round trip airfare, hotel, cruise through Grand Cayman & Jamaica, land back in NOLA for the Mardi Gras parade where the winner got to board a float and throw beads while enjoying VIP after-parties. This one was truly a once in a lifetime experience!
  5. Napa Valley Winery Getaway: Round trip private jet flight to Napa Valley, 3 night stay at private home for 6, included winery tours, meals, limo rides and more.
  6. Fashion Week in NYC: personal styling and private tour from the Ralph Lauren Black Label, hotel and airfare, dinner and drinks provided, tickets to 2 shows during NYC Fashion Week with VIP behind the scenes experiences. Incredible!
  7. Dublin St. Patrick’s Festival: Dublin, Ireland 6-night hotel accommodations, airfare, grandstand seats to watch the St. Patrick’s Day Festival Parade, food and more. This trip was over the top!
  8. Kentucky Derby VIP Experience: 4 Clubhouse tickets to the Kentucky Derby, Derby Eve Gala and Derby Poker Celebrity Bourbon Bash with hotel, airfare, swag bags, etc.
  9. Ultimate Grammy’s VIP Experience: 2 Tickets to the Grammy Awards and Grammy after parties, airfare, hotel, limo rides and more.
  10. Trips, Trips and More Trips: We auction off some seriously amazing vacations, more than I could ever name- Florida, Ireland, Arizona, Africa, Puerto Vallarta, Hong Kong, Hawaii, Chicago, LA, Antigua, Colorado, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vegas and some amazing KC staycations and local experiences as well.

Check out the 2016 Class of KC’s Most Wanted Honorees and don’t miss The 11th Annual Most Wanted Auction on December 3rd at Arvest Bank Theater at The Midland. Purchase tickets, bid on the online silent auction Nov. 14-Dec. 3 and donate to support your favorite Honoree’s online fundraising campaign.