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AF Aide Society and Charity Ball donation options

I'm proposing something a bit different that might involve, for example, 10 companies interested in "advertising" their support for military families by displaying a business logo and limited business information at the Charity Ball, in return for a donation to the Air Force Aid Society. Please allow me to explain further.

Each year, volunteers combine with the Air Force Aid Society to develop and run a black tie dinner and silent auction (The Charity Ball) at a major venue in the Washington D.C. area. Generally 600-700 people attend, including virtually all Air Force 4-star general officers, other general officers and senior members of the civil service, and senior members of the Department of Defense, the corporate defense industry and the international Attache community. Prior to the dinner and for a brief period following, guests are given the opportunity to bid on donated items offered throughout the venue. These donated items cover the spectrum of cost and variety with things like gift baskets at a starting bid of $20 to international trips valued in the thousands.

This event is the most significant annual fund raising event for the Air Force Aid Society, providing funds that help support Airmen and their families through a variety of programs throughout the year. As a former wing commander and general officer, I've seen firsthand the impact this organization can have on the lives of Airmen in distress. Their website (www.afas.org) offers additional information:

"The Air Force Aid Society is the official charity of the United States Air Force, incorporated in 1942 as a private, nonprofit organization. For over 70 years, the Air Force Aid Society has supported the Air Force mission by providing worldwide emergency assistance, sponsoring education assistance programs and offering an array of base community enhancement programs that improve quality of life for Airmen and their families."

This year, the Charity Ball will be held in April and planning in earnest has already begun. Generally, in the past, volunteers relied almost exclusively on corporate donations from defense contractors. While it is easy to understand why we would focus on companies that have equity in supplying the equipment our Airmen use to defend our country, this year we came to realize we were missing an equally crucial set of industry partners which support military members and their families in other ways. Companies associated with AAFES, for example, play a vital role in military communities worldwide. We know it, and we appreciate it.

So, that is where I come in. I am a Charity Ball volunteer responsible for working with a contractor called BidPal. This company works with nonprofit organizations like ours to ensure a highly professional silent auction and event. Their website (www.bidpalnetwork.com) offers additional information:

"BidPal improves charitable fundraising by helping nonprofits use technology to more efficiently run their events from start to finish. BidPal's event management solutions, automated mobile auctions, payment processing, online fundraising and consulting services help make charitable events more fun and more profitable."

A key aspect of their business model is the use of iPad like devices often referred to as "paddles." Although I was not involved, the Charity Ball used them last year and everyone was completely sold. These paddles quickly became the focal point of the event, facilitating rapid electronic bidding from anywhere in the venue on items of interest. Among their many features is instant notification of a bid by a guest that exceeds the bid of another guest, streamlined billing processes and the opportunity for companies to advertise in a corner of the BidPal paddle for select period(s) of time throughout the evening. Last year, a major defense contractor bought the entire night. This year, we hope to expand our advertising/donor bas more


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