Each year, a team of 30+ volunteers at the US Military Air Base in Ramstein, Germany coordinates and hosts a community fundraiser to benefit the Kaiserslautern Military Community. Today, the Ramstein Welfare Bazaar is the world's largest military bazaar.
Glenda Young, Vendor Coordinator for the Bazaar, explains in detail how Smartsheet was used to coordinate the largest, most successful bazaar to date -- grossing over $1.8 million in sales and netting over $285,000 for the Kaiserslautern community in 2012.
Q: How had you planned the Ramstein Bazaar in previous years?
A: The planning committee for this event is composed entirely of volunteers that work throughout the year to coordinate over 165 global retail and food vendors.
This year, I was in charge of coordinating every vendor for the 2012 Bazaar. I began tackling this challenge as the committee always had – with shared spreadsheets and email.
Version control quickly got out of hand. In fact, one of our volunteers had to be a dedicated spreadsheet master just to keep everyone organized. I found that we were spending more time triple checking that we had the right version of any given spreadsheet rather than working to plan our event.
Q: How did you introduce Smartsheet to your planning committee?
A: Smartsheet was suggested to me as a solution to our version-control nightmare. One of the greatest challenges in introducing a new technology to a volunteer organization is the potential difficulties with buy-in and training. We didn’t have a single problem with Smartsheet. Once I introduced it to the planning committee the benefits we could reap from this tool were crystal clear – it was the answer to our problem.
Smartsheet is so intuitive and easy to use, we were all able to jump right in and start working together.
Q: How did you use Smartsheet to plan this year’s event?
A: One of the most complex pieces of planning the Bazaar is ensuring that we have the necessary product documentation for every item sold. The military base has strict requirements for imported good from other countries, with different documentation requirements in a variety of forms and files. Smartsheet became an easy - and powerful - repository that we used to simply keep track of all this information.
Smartsheet also became our international database. All of our correspondence and contact information for our vendors was kept in sheets for anyone on our planning committee to quickly reference. It became a powerful communication tool where we could manage any issues that arose during planning.
Q: What was the outcome within your team?
A: Using Smartsheet to plan this year’s Bazaar made our committee's hours of planning and coordinating immeasurably more productive. But more importantly, our planning time was less frustrating. Smartsheet eliminated the pain of double checking and updating a multitude of spreadsheets and gave us back time to enter and analyze important planning information – and enjoy the event that we had worked so hard to coordinate!
Clearly informed volunteers, team members, and supporting organizations built a more productive team -- which was ultimately able to produce an event with $1.8 million in gross sales!
Smartsheet gave us back the time and energy to be excited about our cause and host the most successful Ramstein Welfare Bazaar to date.