Avalanche Center Home Update - December 5, 2003

An Update from the Avalanche Center
December 5, 2003

Online in html: http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/updates/
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This is a brief update on what is new and upcoming on the internet Avalanche Center, http://www.avalanche-center.org/

Sixth Annual Fundraising Auction - Ends Dec 17

This update is primarily to announce that our online auction is now running. This is a once per year event and all donated items will close on Dec 16 or 17 at times specified on their auction pages. There is some other news as well which follows the auction description.

The auction has historically been our only fundraising event and is important to our budget. At its peak the auction generated about $3000 but we have set this years goal at $2000. This is 10% of our entire operating budget for a year, which is about $20,000. That is for all of our expenses, with most of it being office related. For the last 4-5 years the budget has been close to constant. (Summary historical budget information is posted at http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/finance/)

We have spent the last couple months preparing for the auction, and the outdoor industry has donated a variety of products. Now it's your turn - go have fun bidding on things!

Here is what's new this year ...

The auction script has been added to significantly. The main script-generated listing can be resorted by clicking on any of the column headings - by closing date, item (alphabetical), number of bids, or current amount. Within the last 24 hours the time remaining is displayed rather than just "1 day". The pages for each item, with the bidding, have a link to notify a friend about that particular auction by e-mail. If you see something a friend would like and your not going to bid on it for a gift then let them know about it. Finally, one of the biggest changes is the addition of proxy (or auto) bidding. You set a maximum and the system will keep bidding for you until you reach that amount, if you do. Proxy bidding and dutch auctions combined still have some quirks, in general the system will boost the bids more than you might have to using regular bidding. There are pages describing dutch auctions, proxy bidding and other features so there is more information about how everything works than in the past.

Get some real deals ...

Throughout the auction we will be posting items from our own Avalanche Store for periods of 1-3 days. You snooze and you loose, as they say. We've already given away five avalanche beacons, of the winners choice, for about $200. (Retail value is $300.) Our famous skiing skeleton shirts and Nalgene bottles have been won at below cost.

We are still observing the proxy bidding on dutch auctions to see if we can improve on it, so some of the short term items are cheap and in multiple quantities in order to see how things go with them. A few regular donated items which we have multiple units of will be posted a bit late after we see how these quick turn-around things work out. Help us out and have some fun by bidding on things like Chums which generally max out at a dollar or two.

Other News ...

In addition to the auction we have some other fundraising items to announce. With industry sponsorship seriously declining and a lackluster economy making store revenue uncertain we need to replace those losses with something new. (Individual contributions have held steady despite the economy - thanks to everyone who values the site enough to chip in.)

We can now accept donations of automobiles (and other property) through an arrangement with the Vehicle Donation Processing Center. They will come pick up the car (or other property) and issue proper documentation for tax deductions. Proceeds from the disposition of donated property come to us. The Sunday newspaper in many cities has ads for donations to various groups using this system, you may have noticed those. Thanks to the Mt Waterman Ski Patrol in California for suggesting this two years ago, it just took us time to set it up. (See http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/contribute/autos.php )

We also anticipate our first ever offline real-world fundraising event in January in the Lake Tahoe area. Board member Phil Caterino has arranged to hold this function in conjunction with the Nevada Wilderness Project. He can use some volunteer help, send us e-mail at snow@csac.org if you're interested and we'll pass your contact info on to Phil. We have lots of support in California so we're optimistic that this will be a great event. Watch for more details in a future update and on the website.

Finally, we are continuing to improve our online store. It can now be searched as an independent section, separate from the rest of the site. This provides a new way to quickly find an item you are looking for. We are still adding new products but one item we will be carrying is the new PIEPS DSP beacon. As a brand new product there may be a wait for backordered units so check with us before ordering, especially if you are in a rush. We are trying to keep some on order as the season gets going.

Upcoming Improvements ...

Work on the website has slowed down while we fundraise during this time period when it is crucial. (Most of the revenue for paying bills year round comes during the current 2-3 month period.) However, we are working on a few new things. Including some significant features using public domain php packages. We're anxious to return to working on these improvements. We'd rather be doing that than fundraising, it's a lot more fun. But reality beckons and later when the auction is over we will do what we can and announce some things at that time.

End of the Year Tax Tip

If you get rid of that old car, boat or other property by donating it now you can itemize its value as a tax deduction for 2003! Read about it at: http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/contribute/autos.php

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