Winspire News

Your destination for insight into the world of event fundraising, charity auctions and no-risk travel packages.

Charitable Giving Trends in Canada [INFOGRAPHIC]

Charitable Giving Trends in Canada (INFOGRAPHIC)

Charitable giving in Canada is at an all-time high. In 2010, just as we began climbing out of the global recession, 84% of adult Canadians or just under 24 million people reported making at least one donation to charity during the calendar year. At an average donation of $446, the total amount donated to charity was over $10.6 billion.

While this may be a drop in the bucket compared to the $278 billion donated by U.S. households in 2009 at the height of the recession, it is a dramatic increase over the $4 billion that was contributed as recently as the 1990's - showing that giving in Canada is on the rise. It's also important to note that Canada was ranked #2 behind the US in the 2013 World Giving Index rankings of the most charitable nations of the world.

In this infographic, we explore the trends of charitable giving in Canada, including how donations and donation rates vary by age, gender, income, education, and place of residence. Overall the findings show that Canadians are strongly inclined to donate to charity, regardless of their demographic background.

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Topics: nonprofits

Writing Item Descriptions for a Silent Auction is Easier Than You Think

Easy Tips for writing Silent Auction Item Descriptions

Vibrant tables filled with unique and exciting auction items are the focal point for many nonprofit fundraising events. These silent charity auctions offer guests a fun social activity that also facilitates spending money, which can turn out to be very profitable for your cause.

Attendees of most charity auctions possess a shopping mentality as they circulate through the silent auction tables, browsing items and vying for the top bid spot on the things they want. For many, the combination of competition and shopping can provide an exhilarating experience. One_night_only_storefront-01Not to mention... it's for charity! So many of the normal shopping barriers such as, "I don't really need that..." don't exist.

As you work on your next silent auction, remember to think of it as your "one night only" storefront. You are setting up a temporary retail store, and just like any retail store that sells merchandise, you must create enticing displays that encourage people to stop, look and buy. A crucial part of creating this shopping experience is the silent auction item description.


Save Time. Keep it Simple. 

Don't waste your time coming up with a unique display for each and every item. It's best to figure out a single item display template that you can use for all your items. Develop a template with the same colors, fonts, layout, look and feel that will work for 95% of your items and then replicate it. 

This not only saves you time but also keeps your displays consistent throughout the event. Your auction tables will have a professional, polished appearance that is attractive and easy to navigate - which lends itself to a smoother shopping experience for your guests.

Auction item displays should be clear, uncluttered and easy to read quickly. Following are a few things to keep in mind before you start creating displays for your next silent auction: 

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Topics: event-production

What is SEO and How Can It Help My Nonprofit?

Easy SEO tips for Nonprofits

Before you skip over this article! For those of you who are new to the whole concept of search rankings, I encourage you to give this article a chance! You probably know more than you think and will be able to make some of these tips work for your nonprofit. 

Search Engine Optimization, or “SEO”, has become a frequent topic among marketing and development directors at nonprofit organizations. While most marketers know that SEO can benefit their organization, few understand the factors that impact search and what you can do to help your organization establish a more competitive position in the Google search rankings.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

On it's most basic level, SEO is a strategy for making an organization's website easier to find on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing the code and content of a website so that it is perceived by search engines, such as Google, as being highly relevant for certain search terms. The benefit of a well-executed SEO program is that your site will achieve higher search rankings for targeted keywords, which drives more new users and better quality traffic to your website.

For example, if you are looking for someone to paint your house and you Google "house painter", you are going to get a list of search results for companies that will happily provide that service. In fact, you'll probably get tens of millions of results:

The ultimate objective of SEO is to get a website to appear on the first page of search results. Getting on the first page of search engine results is the holy grail for marketers because websites that show up first get far more traffic - 90% of all clicks - compared to websites that fall to the second or third pages, which receive less than 10% of traffic.

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Topics: nonprofits

4 Simple Donor Segments That Will Maximize Your Fundraising Efforts

Target donor segments to maximize the fundraising efforts for your nonprofit

While segmenting donors is not a new concept, there are strategies you might not have tried yet. Nonprofits typically group donors into categories based on demographic information and donors’ interests. As an example, your organization may already be using communication methods to reach baby boomers that are different from those used to target millennials.

This is an effective tactic, but it’s not the only one you should try.

Another way to segment donors is to categorize based on giving. When you group donors by how much and how often they give, you can dramatically improve your marketing efforts by focusing on those who are more likely to give while pinpointing donors who aren’t giving and may actually be costing you money.

How to segment donors

To categorize donors, Steve Shattuck, VP of Marketing at Bloomerang, suggests creating four distinct groups:

Segmenting nonprofit donor base for better ROI on marketing efforts

  • New donors at or below average gift amount
  • Returning donors at or below average gift amount
  • New donors above average gift amount
  • Returning donors above average gift amount


Let's dive into each donor segment to see what they mean for your development efforts...

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Topics: fundraising

¡Arriba! Mexico Trips You'll Love this Cinco De Mayo


Believe it or not, Cinco de Mayo is a bigger celebration in the U.S. than in Mexico. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day (that occurred 50 years prior to the Battle of Puebla, which is celebrated on September 16). The significance of today is that on May 5, 1862, the Mexican army celebrated a remarkable victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla. The Mexican army won the battle despite having far fewer troops and less artillery. 

Avacados_Consumed-01As we know Cinco de Mayo, today calls for tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole (an estimated 81 million avocados will be consumed today in the U.S.) and of course, margaritas! While you are enjoying your fiesta with family, friends and co-workers, you might find yourself daydreaming about vacationing at a luxury resort in Mexico, enjoying the warm ocean and sunny skies…

Hey amigo, why not include a trip to Mexico in your next charity fundraising event?  Give your donors and patrons an opportunity to enjoy the warm tropical climate of beach resorts in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun.

Winspire offers no-risk travel packages to each of these destinations and makes them easy for nonprofits to use in fundraising silent auctions, live auctions and raffles.


Spotlight: All-inclusive Splendor in Puerto Vallarta

When the all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta opened recently, there wasn’t much need for directions: anyone familiar with the area knows the beautiful sandy beach at the base of the lush Sierra Madre mountains, just a five minute drive south of downtown. Hyatt’s new all-inclusive brand resurrects the luxury and romance of a bygone era with modern and authentic style. Early indications and reviews are very positive, and AAA already awarded the resort its Four Diamond designation.

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Topics: travel-experiences

4 Sizzling Summertime Charity Auction Ideas


Summer is the perfect time for vacations, trips to the beach, BBQs and... charity auctions?! While nonprofits typically take a hiatus from events in the summer season, June, July and August are actually prime months for for hosting informal get-togethers with your most important donors.

Charity events during the summer months are also fun for people with out-of-town guests. Encourage supporters to bring their visiting in-laws, cousins and friends who may have an interest in your cause.

These smaller, more intimate gatherings are a great opportunity to incorporate a fun live or silent auction to provide entertainment and raise a little extra cash for your cause. Take advantage of the warm weather and long lazy days with one of these unique charity auction ideas for your summertime event:


1. The Charity Golf Scramble

Golf scrambles are popular fundraising and awareness events for nonprofit organizations. Serious and casual golfers alike enjoy playing a best ball format with their friends or co-workers. The foursome plays as a team – everyone drives from the tee, and from there each golfer plays their ball from the best ball’s position until a ball ends up in the cup.

There are prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner (and sometimes a prize for the last place finishers). The event typically takes place on a Monday when courses are slow or even closed for weekly maintenance. Revenue comes from individual (from $25–$100 each) and team (from $100–$500) registrations as well as sponsorships.

Create different sponsorship levels with benefits for each one. Keep in mind that most sponsorship levels will include a team registration. Businesses like to sponsor a hole where a sign at the tee identifies them as the hole sponsor. Car dealerships like to sponsor a hole-in-one contest with a car as the prize. This really adds to the event as even spectators can get in on the action!

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Topics: event-production

3 Reasons Travel is the #1 Selling Charity Auction Item

Experiential Travel is the #1 selling charity auction item in the US and Canada

For many years now, experiential travel has been a top seller in charity auctions and raffles. Whether you use a no-risk travel provider or you and your committee put together travel packages yourself, offering donors incredible vacations is a great way to generate excitement and revenue at fundraising events of all sizes

Whether you're hosting a live, silent or online auction, or you are boosting your efforts with a winner's choice raffle, experiential travel is the ultimate incentive to offer your donors. Why? We narrowed it down to three main reasons why travel performs so well at charity auction fundraisers: 

 Experiential travel packages

1. Travel is Unique

With virtually unlimited options for destinations and experiences all over the globe, you have a lot to work with. 

Travel can mean many things: There's leisure travel, business travel, adventure travel... even interstellar travel! But when it comes to charity auctions, most event patrons are interested in one thing: Experiential Travel.

Experiential travel is the kind of highly sought after, hard to find and unique experiences that you usually find on people's life-long bucket lists.


An experiential travel package is typically comprised of three things: airfare, lodging and a planned experience at your destination. Examples include:

With such a variety of options (The world is your oyster!) you never have to worry about offering the same old items at your event. This is especially important in today's event fundraising space, where donors are subjected to many of the same charity auction items year after year.

The challenge is to stand out and still provide unique opportunities for people to support your cause, which can be difficult as fundraising events continue to increase in attendance and sophistication. 

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Topics: fundraising, travel-experiences

10 Email Marketing Tips for Cultivating Major Donors

Find out how to generate more major donors through email marketing

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach potential donors and keep them interested, informed and engaged with your nonprofit's mission. Use these 10 tips to improve your email campaign strategy and maximize your efforts. 

1. Use an Email Service Provider (ESP)

ESPs are companies like ConstantContact or MailChimp who offer free or inexpensive online marketing tools for sending professional-looking branded email campaigns to your donor database. Most offer pricing models based on the size of your database, and some even offer special pricing for nonprofits. Not all ESPs offer the same features. Consider your options and take advantage of free trial periods to find the best solution for your Nonprofit's needs. 

2. Mix it up

Not every email should be a direct ask for money. While solicitation emails are important, they can annoy donors if you send them too frequently. Your goal with email marketing is to engage donors with useful content so they want to open every email from your organization. If solicitation emails were the only type of communication you sent, donors would stop opening your emails altogether.

Build email campaigns that update supporters on your mission, achievements and goals for the future. Emails are also great for sending thank-you's, special announcements and promoting your fundraising events. 

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Topics: fundraising

Silent Auction Forms: The Essential List


For nonprofit fundraising events, the silent auction has become a crucial tool for increasing financial support for the organization and providing a fun form of entertainment for attendees. Guests are there to support your cause, and when they have a great time it inspires them to give their support on a higher level.

If you are an event coordinator or an auction chair and want to produce a winning fundraising auction, refer to these six essential silent auction forms that will help you conquer the event planning process.

Donation Request Letter

The Donation Request Letter is your primary method for soliciting individuals and businesses to donate auction items to your event. It is your chance to sell your organization and its mission.

In many cases you won't get a "Yes" on your first Ask. This letter should serve to educate and inspire a potential donor in your absence, so that by the time you arrive for your second, third or fourth solicitation attempt - the donor is familiar with your cause, your event and what you are asking for. 

  • Letterhead: Include your event logo at the top of your letter to set the stage for your donation request and to make if more official. If you don't have an event logo you can use your organization's letterhead instead.
  • Tell a Story: Tug at their heart strings with a personal heartfelt story that relates to your cause. Be specific about what has been done or what will be done to help.
  • Include a Picture: A photograph that relates to your emotional story adds credibility and dimension to your cause. If you choose to include a picture and have a colorful logo, it's probably worth it to have your letter printed in color.
  • Bold Call to Action: Individuals you solicit are usually busy people. Make sure the main reason your are contacting them is obvious. It's also a nice touch to address them directly in the body of the letter.
  • Be Specific: Asking for a specific item will take the pressure off the potential donors to come up with ideas and make it easier for them to say yes.
  • Recognition: There are plenty of opportunities to recognize and promote your donors. Just make sure you follow through on your promise.
  • Bold Return Date: This is an important date! Make sure it's easy to spot within your letter.
  • Identify Yourself: Sign every letter with a pen in blue ink. Include your title and contact information below your name.
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Topics: event-production

Top 5 Tools for Promoting Your Fundraising Event on a Budget

5 tools for promoting your charity fundraising event on a budget

An auction, whether live or silent, can be an excellent fundraiser for your nonprofit. Such an event not only raises money, but it can also generate some much needed buzz about your organization among donors, potential bidders, other supporters and staff. One of the keys to getting the most out of your auction is promoting the event early and often.

An effective promotional campaign can have a profound affect on whether or not your event is well-attended. It's all about getting the word out, and up to now there has never been such a wide array of cheap tools and open channels to communicate with your audience.

Here are the top five cost-effective tools for promoting your fundraising event:

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Topics: event-production

eBook: Introduction to Procuring Quality Charity Auction Items


Winston & Winnie

The Winspire Twins

Winston & Winnie love to help Nonprofits raise money for amazing causes. They also love to travel and have a bucket list of amazing Experiences they are determined to complete in their lifetime. Winspire News is the result of this shared passion, offering you fundraising advice, industry news and explorations into each of our incredible travel packages

Auction Item Procurement
Starter Kit

starter kit underline


A free resource with helpful templates to get the auction item procurement process off the ground.

- Donation Form TEMPLATE
- Procurement Letter TEMPLATE
- Procurement Letter Example

Download Starter Kit →