Winspire News

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

BizWorld Lesson #5: Manage Your Donors More Like Customers

BizWorld-ManageDonorsLikeCustomers-02This article is part of a series titled "Lessons from the Biz World" where we explore valuable aspects of the for-profit sector we can apply to nonprofit management and translate into a more efficient, stable and successful organization with a greater impact. 

There are many of parallels that can be drawn between a business's healthy customer portfolio and a thriving nonprofit donor base. In both cases, it is up to the organization to spur individual patrons to spend or contribute some of their hard-earned cash.

The for-profits and nonprofits who are best at this understand how to keep their target audience coming back and opening their wallets time and time again. 

Companies are typically far more effective than nonprofits when it comes to developing these relationships, in part because businesses can make "customer satisfaction" a main pillar of their mission statement. Nonprofits, on the other hand, are focused on fulfilling their charitable mission, so concepts like "donor satisfaction" may end up taking a back seat.

To counteract this, enterprising nonprofit executives can use business tactics to manage their donors more like customers, putting donors at the forefront of their fundraising strategy.

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Topics: fundraising, biz-world-lessons

A Brief History of Charitable Giving [INFOGRAPHIC]


Charity has been part of human culture for thousands of years. There are numerous instances of charitable acts in ancient civilizations dating back as far as 2500 BCE (or 4,500 years ago), which is around the time the Egyptians were building the pyramids. 

More recently over the last 30 years or so, donations to charitable organizations have increased consistently year-over-year, far outpacing the rate of inflation. Today, charitable giving is a core value of western culture with over 95% of U.S. households donating to charity in 2013!

Where did all of this generosity come from? In the following infographic we break down some of the historical trends to show the progress of charitable giving.

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Topics: nonprofits

[WEBINAR] Consignment Items: Making the Most!


These days no charity fundraiser is complete without a dazzling live and silent auction to delight donors and maximize revenue at an event. Anyone who has organized a fundraising auction, however, knows how difficult and time-intensive it can be to find enough quality auction items to offer donors and keep them interested. 

Enter consignment or "no-risk" travel packages - an increasingly popular fundraising tool that gives charities the ability to place unique and exclusive vacation packages in their charity auction while guaranteeing a return on investment.

Join us as we welcome Col. Benjamin Farrell, Benefit Auctioneer Specialist, and Jason Green, Southeast Regional Event Consultant, for a free webinar where we will discuss how to make the most of consignment items at your next charity auction fundraiser. 

By registering for this webinar you will be eligible to win a $20 Amazon gift card! We will randomly select the winner at the end of the webinar.

Save My Spot →

(If you can't make it, register anyway and we'll send you the recording)

Date: Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Time: 9:00am PDT / 12:00pm EDT
Duration: 45 min  (+15 minutes to answer questions!)

We will talk with Jason and Ben about how to maximize your return on consignment packages by addressing the following topics:

  • 3 reasons travel performs so well in auctions and raffle fundraisers
  • 4 most common challenges you face that no-risk travel can help solve
  • 5 key strategies to consider when using no-risk travel

You will leave with tangible ideas and resources focused on saving you timeidentifying major donors and raising more money at your next charity auction fundraiser. Save your spot today! 

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Topics: fundraising

3 Reasons Donor Sponsored Experiences Are Awesome



Experiential travel has always been a top seller in charity auctions and raffles. It is also one of the most difficult items for auction committees to get donated and fulfill.

Developing a quality travel experience for your auction can quickly spiral into a nightmare of logistics, unfulfilled promises and in the end - a complete waste of time. What's worse, you could end up with unhappy winning bidders.

We're all familiar with the scenario: A well-meaning board member offers their vacation condo, only to have it be put up for sale, go through renovations or get used for some other purpose before the winning bidder can fulfill their trip.

Even without the help of a generous board member, it can takes months to cobble together the right airfare, lodging and experiential components that will fit together to create a cohesive vacation package. After it sells and the event is over, it can take many more hours as you are forced to become a travel agent, concierge and customer service representative to help winning bidders fulfill their package.

We talk to thousands of auction chairs from across the U.S. and Canada, many of whom find themselves buried in additional work involving their travel-related auction items. Oftentimes, what's preventing success in this area is the organization's "No Consignment Policy"

No Consignment Policy? No problem!

A "No Consignment Policy" doesn't mean you can't leverage a Winspire Experiences at your event! One great sponsorship opportunity is for an individual or business to underwrite the cost of a Winspire Experience for your live auction

Here are three reasons why...

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Topics: fundraising

The Ultimate List of 100+ Silent Auction Item Ideas



Are you planning a silent auction to raise money at your next special event? Most Nonprofit fundraising events aren't complete without at least a few tables filled with donated items for your supporters to consider.

Offering silent auction items for your guests to browse is helpful because they not only raise money, they give guests something to do when they first arrive at your event. Your donors can mingle, socialize and sip cocktails while perusing the auction tables.

Over the course of your event, this can develop into a fun and sometimes competitive spirit as the time to close the silent auction draws near. 

For a silent auction to be truly effective, it has to include unique and interesting items that will excite guests and encourage them to start thinking about how much money want to spend in support of your cause.

Let's face it: Sometimes it's tough to come up with good ideas for silent auction items. You need items that are both easy to procure and valuable enough to bring in some cash. Otherwise, it's not worth the immense amount of time and effort it takes to procure, set-up, manage and then fulfill these items.

HowtoBundleSmallerDonationstoCreateExtraordinaryAuctionItems2015-03-1010-57-50You want to strive to obtain and bundle together items that will generate a good rate of return so you can maximize profits and minimize work. For example, two movie passes won't bring in more than $20, but a package that includes movie tickets, a babysitter (include pizza for the kids!) and a restaurant gift card that is branded as "Ultimate Date Night!" can easily bring in over $100. 

The best ideas for silent auction items will suit your audience, work with your event theme, and have a high potential for income generation. 

Here is a list of 100+ silent auction item ideas to help your procurement team get their brainstorming session off the ground...

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Topics: event-production

BizWorld Lesson #4: Utilize Nonprofit Branding Strategies


This article is part of a series titled "Lessons from the Biz World" where we explore valuable aspects of the for-profit sector that can be applied to nonprofit management and translate into a more efficient, stable and successful organization with a greater impact. 

Some organizations spend millions of dollars building their brand and keep their key messages visible among target audiences. This includes companies like Coca-Cola and Walmart, as well as nonprofits like Susan G. Komen for the Cure. While your nonprofit may not have that kind of budget, there are still plenty of ways to develop brand reputation and marketing messages. After all, if people don’t know who you are, what you do and why they should care, they are going to donate elsewhere.

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Topics: nonprofits, biz-world-lessons, nonprofit branding

Hyatt Now Offering Unlimited Free WiFi at All Properties


Travelers around the world are doing the happy dance… if they’re staying at a Hyatt Hotel or Resort, that is.  As of mid February, guests enjoy free Wi-Fi on an unlimited number of devices in guest rooms and social spaces.

The best part is that Hyatt has made a commitment to absorb the costs internally and not pass them along to guests in the form of increased rates or added facility fees.  There’s nothing more annoying than learning that the “free” baggage offered by your airline just means you paid more for your flight.

“We continue to evolve our offerings by listening to our guests, and for Hyatt, it didn't feel natural to put barriers around something travelers view as an essential part of their hotel stay," said Kristine Rose, vice president of brands, Hyatt. "Staying connected through technology is a critical part of productivity and keeping in touch with loved ones, especially while away traveling”.

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Topics: travel-tips, travel-perks, travel-experiences, free wifi

Nonprofit Communication & Marketing Trends 2015 [INFOGRAPHIC]


As you develop a marketing and communication strategy for your nonprofit in 2015, it is important to have an understanding of industry trends both in terms of key objectives as well as methods of outreach. 

A recent study of 1,535 staff members of nonprofits gathered data on marketing trends and objectives for 2015.  Participants were polled on a variety of topics, including their primary objectives for their marketing efforts for 2015, their preferred method of outreach – using both digital and traditional media, and their expected frequency of outreach to their donor base.

View Infographic →

In addition, the survey data was broken down by job function of the nonprofit staff respondents, which shed some critical insight into how a nonprofit must balance competing interests within the organization in formulating a marketing and communication strategy.

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Topics: nonprofit-marketing, nonprofits, nonprofit communication

Generate Event Sponsorships With a Charity Auction Catalog [TEMPLATE]

Generate_Event_Sponsorships_With_Your_Charity_Auction_Catalog-01-1One of the best ways to offset the cost of printing your charity auction catalog, as well as many other elements of your fundraising event, is to get corporate and/or individual sponsors to underwrite different parts of the event in return for recognition in the catalog.

First, it's important to note that there is a slight difference between "sponsorship" and "underwriting", even though the terms are often used interchangeably:

  • Underwriting: A donor pays for either all or a portion of an event expense directlyAlmost any aspect of an event can be underwritten. An example would be finding a print vendor to pay for ALL printed materials, including banners, tickets, this catalog, forms, invitations, etc. Other sponsorship opportunities include a menu item, like dessert, or other aspects of the event like the centerpieces, the band or the booze.
  • Sponsorship: A donor buys into a sponsorship package offered by the Nonprofit with the funds going directly to the organization to help offset event expenses. Examples include sponsoring a table for 10 or a "presenting sponsorship" where a donor would pay to sponsor - say - the live auction so it would read "The 2015 Live Auctrion, presented by XYZ"

In either case, your objective is to defray the costs or expenses of your event by offering donors various incentives - such as verbal recognition or putting a company's logo on event banners or other printed material. You can offer a range of sponsorship and underwriting opportunities, each with its own level of benefits.

One of the best places to offer potential sponsors some exposure during your event is in your auction catalog. If you haven't already, check out our professionally designed 100% customizable Microsoft Word auction catalog template, which includes space for you to recognize donors at the different sponsorship levels discussed below.

So how should you structure the sponsorship and recognition options?

Sponsorship Levels

One option is to establish different sponsorship levels, each of which comes with its own level of benefits.

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Topics: fundraising, charity auction catalog, sponsorships, underwriting

Build Your Own Charity Auction Catalog [TEMPLATE]


One of the best ways to ensure plenty of excitement and bidding on your biggest and best charity auction items is by showcasing them in an auction catalog. The goal of an auction catalog is to make your auction items as appealing as possible to entice guests to place more bids, thus generating more revenue from your fundraising event.

A well-designed catalog accomplishes this by:

  • Creating a shopping experience: Donors are sophisticated buyers. A professional catalog lets you attractively feature your auction items, giving guests the opportunity to browse and discuss them before and during the live auction.
  • Educating donors: Guests are going to be more comfortable spending large sums of money on an auction item if they have plenty of information about what they are buying.

It’s common for charity auction catalogs to also serve as the event program and include information on the organization, its cause and the event itself. Here is a list of essential elements to include in an auction catalog:

  1. Cover
  2. Welcome Letter
  3. Event Agenda
  4. Special Thanks/Acknowledgments
  5. About Organization
  6. Live Auction Introduction
  7. Auction Items
  8. Sponsor Recognition

Depending on the size and scope of your event, the catalog can be something simple with only a few pages or it can be far more extensive, with paid advertising space in a professionally designed booklet.

Unfortunately, hiring a graphic designer to create an auction catalog can be prohibitively expensive for most nonprofit organizations... so we want to give you the tools to do it yourself!

[FREE TEMPLATE] Download the pre-designed 100% customizable Microsoft Word auction catalog template.


If you’re going to give it a go on your own, here are a few tips for how to design an effective catalog...

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Topics: event-production, fundraising templates, charity auction catalog

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 →