Winspire News

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

6 Powerful Ways to Market Your Fundraising Event for Free

Posted by Summy Lau

Market Your Fundraising Event for Free!

Fall fundraising season is well underway, and chances are your organization has a fundraising event on the horizon. A key piece to your success is strategic promotion.

We all know events can be pricey, and when budgets get stretched thin, it's tempting to put marketing efforts to the backburner. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to spread the word that don't cost a penny.

Today we will look at 6 of the best ways to promote your event for free, including:

  1. Google AdWords
  2. Other Online Resources (social media, organization website)
  3. Email Marketing
  4. Media Partners (media sponsorships, press coverage)
  5. Press Releases
  6. Local Events, Clubs and Word-of-Mouth

Whether you're looking to make a big splash in a first year event, or need to refresh a stagnating event, bringing in new supporters can set the tone for years to come.

Read on for ways to convert these methods into more event registrationsand dollars for your cause.

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Topics: social-media, event-production, press release, email marketing, seo, event-promotion, nonprofit websites

This Easy Formula Takes the Guesswork Out of Auction Procurement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted by Summy Lau

Projecting Charity Auction Revenue

"How many auction items do you recommend for a fundraising event with X amount of guests?"

This is a question we get all the time, and for good reason. Include too many, and the items will fetch fewer, smaller bids. Including too few may drive bids higher, but you've lost out on revenue bidders would have spent on more items.

Perhaps there's a better question to ask: How many auction items will we need to meet our fundraising goal?

Most nonprofits look at audience size to determine how many items they need in the auction (more on that below), but today we'll use an equally important metric: your fundraising goal.

Fact is, the quality of your items can affect the quantity you need to procure.

Using a few simple formulas, you can break down any revenue goal—no matter how insurmountable it may seem—into the approximate amount and caliber of items needed.

To deduce your event's "magic number" of auction items, check out our handy infographic below.

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Topics: procurement, nonprofit-infographic, auction-procurement, procurement-tip, event-production, infographic

Fund-a-Need Fundamentals: 10 Mistakes That Can Destroy a Cash Appeal

Posted by Summy Lau


Most event organizers know a big portion of the night's proceeds comes from the fund-a-need, also commonly known as a cash appeal, special appeal or fund-a-cause.

Nonetheless, this revenue strategy can be tough to execute properly.

You may be uncertain if guests will give—after all, they have paid good money just to attend, and you want them to spend big on the auction. Or perhaps you've never tried something like this in the past. If the appeal falls flat, say goodbye to the night's energy and momentum.

All that to say, it's not easy to jump on stage and ask guests to pledge cash.

Last week we discussed the 4 crucial elements of a successful fund-a-need:

  • An emotional trigger
  • The "ask"
  • Bid cards
  • Three (3) recorders

Read Next:

While these are the 4 logistical requirements for holding a fund-a-need, there are proven best practices that will make the process even easier and more lucrative for your organization.

If you're wondering, "Can we hold a fund-a-need without a live auction? Where would a cash appeal work best in our program? Do we have to raise funds for one item? Should we start high and go low? and more" - this post is for you.

Read on for practical tips to sidestep 10 of the most common mistakes nonprofits make when conducting funding pleas and special appeals.

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Topics: event-production, cash appeal

Get to Know Your Donors: The Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Surveying

Posted by Summy Lau

Nonprofit Donor Surveys

How well do you know your donors?

Perhaps you're pretty familiar with those that support your cause. Your organization is well established. You've been hosting fundraising events, meeting with major donors and recruiting board members for decades.

Maybe you've just joined, or the organization itself is new. There's a lot to learn.

Whether you're a long-time staff member or recent recruit, your donor database is changing (and hopefully growing) every day. If you're not carefully tracking your donors, you might be surprised at the characteristics of your "average donor".

The more you know about your audience, the more you can plan programs, giving campaigns and fundraising events with personal impact.

Today we are going to look at one great way to get to know your supporters: conducting online surveys. We'll cover:

  1. Choose an Online Survey Tool
  2. Create Your Survey
  3. Great Questions for Donor Feedback
  4. Great Questions for Planning Events
  5. Great Questions for Post-event Feedback
  6. Surveys in Action: Help Improve Winspire News!

Want to improve your marketing and social media efforts, improve volunteer opportunities, choose a new theme for the next giving campaign or all of the above? Read on for a beginner's guide to nonprofit surveying.

Choose an Online Survey Tool

According to the May/June issue of Nonprofit Hub Magazine, one of the most common reasons nonprofits do not survey donors is the time commitment of tracking and interpreting data.

So you might be surprised at the wealth of user-friendly, convenient and affordable online survey tools at your disposal.

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Topics: donor-relations, nonprofit survey

Fund-a-Need 101: 4 Steps to Execute a Smooth Cash Appeal

Posted by Summy Lau

4 Steps to Execute a Smooth "Fund-A-Need"To pull off a successful charity gala, golf tournament, benefit auction and more, profits don't "just happen."

Recently we discussed the need for fundraising events to create a profit plan that (1) keeps the focus on fundraising throughout the entire evening and (2) incorporates a wide variety of revenue streams.

One income stream nearly every event should use is the cash appeal, also known as a fund-a-need, fund-an-item or fund-a-cause.

Cash appeals have always been a staple of fundraisers and even more so recently, as studies show we're increasingly happier spending our money on memories and Experiences rather than things.

Some people attending your event may feel they have enough "stuff" and aren't interested in buying more tangible goods. Nevertheless, they are there to support your cause.

How can you capture donations from those who may be passionate about your mission but don't see anything on the auction tables they want to buy - or better yet, want to give in addition to their auction winnings?

Enter: the cash appeal.

Though this one income stream can have a huge impact on the night's revenue, we all know it's not easy to jump on stage and ask for cash. Fortunately, there are 4 proven strategies you can employ to make the task easier, efficient and ultimately more lucrative.

  1. Effective emotional trigger
  2. The "Ask"
  3. Bid Cards
  4. Three (3) Recorders

For the scoop on all four of these critical cash appeal elements, read on.

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Topics: Fundraising Tips, fundraising-tip, event-production, cash appeal

Promote Your Fundraiser with a Facebook Event: Step-by-Step Guide

Posted by Summy Lau

Use Facebook to Promote Your Charity Fundraising EventsAs fall fundraisers pick up steam, many charities are finalizing their marketing campaigns. What strategies do you have in place?

Email? Check.

Direct mail and postcards? Check.

Flyers around town? Check.

Facebook Event? Hmmm...

Facebook Events for Nonprofit Fundraisers

Facebook Events are customized pages nonprofits can use to invite supporters to their fundraising events (plus any private events or meetings year round).

If you don't have an Event for your fundraiser set up, you might be missing out on additional attendees and critical revenue. Fortunately, Events are simple and free to create.

What we'll cover today:

  1. Why Facebook Events Are Awesome for Event Promotion
  2. Create a Facebook Event for Your Fundraiser: Step-by-Step Guide
  3. Spread the Word: Invite Attendees
  4. Promote Auction Items and Raffles

Let's get started!

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Fundraising Incentives: 8 Top Strategies to Sweeten Giving

Posted by Summy Lau

Using Incentives to Increase Nonprofit Donations

Fundraising is a foundation of the nonprofit world. All the stress and hard work that goes into a fundraising campaign or event is worth it...if you receive a high enough return on your investment.

Using incentives ensures your fundraising efforts operate to their fullest extent.

Today we’ll look at 8 practical strategies to "sweeten the giving pot" for your two most important segments of supporters: donors and your fundraising team (including development staff, volunteers, board members and more).

Let's get started with incentives for those that fuel your mission: your donors.

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Topics: fundraising, donor-relations

Double Your Live Auction Revenue with this Easy Technique: VIDEO

Posted by Summy Lau


On Tuesday, we posted quick and easy ideas for brilliant silent auction baskets, which got a great response from Winspire News subscribers! (In case you missed it, check out "26 Creative, Attractive Silent Auction Basket Ideas".)

As nonprofits are diving into fall fundraising season, let's keep the focus on increasing auction revenue by discussing an essential live auction technique: the Double Up. This effective strategy allows you to double, triple or quadruple profit from a single item. Best of all, it doesn't take any extra effort procuring more items.

Whether you're new to live auctions, are considering using an auctioneer or would like background to discuss with your auctioneer, mastering the Double Up could pay huge dividends in the night's success.

Read on for best practices in using this technique, plus view a short video from professional benefit auctioneer Danny Hooper explaining the process.

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Topics: event-production, selling multiples

26 Creative, Attractive Basket Ideas for a Silent Auction Fundraiser

Posted by Summy Lau

Silent Auction Basket IdeasIf you've planning to host a charity silent auction this fall, you're probably looking to include at least a few gift baskets. These can range anywhere from $50 to $500 in value, depending on the quality and exclusivity of the items inside.

While we recommend procurement teams think outside the box when curating an auction catalog, baskets are silent auction go-to's for good reason: The contents are well within reach of getting donated, plus provide an easy way to bundle excess or smaller items.

Read on for 26 creative silent auction basket ideas you can quickly and easily put together for a silent auction fundraising event, plus best practices to maximize bidding.

  1. Silent Auction Gift BasketTrusty Traveler: Everything business travelers need to jetset in style. Include a suit bag, leather briefcase, Bose headphones and travel pillow into a carry-on roller with wheels. Up the ante with a gift card for flights or hotel stays. (Pin source: House Party)
  2. Mixologist's Wheelbarrow: Stock a wheelbarrow full of alcoholic beverages, plus mixing tools and cocktail recipes. This is one big "basket" that's guaranteed to get plenty of attention and bids.
  3. Fitness Guru: Tools to stay in shape at home and at the gym. Include a home gym package, yoga mat, dumbbells, resistance bands, a "smart" water tracking bottle, fitness DVDs and a membership to the local gym. Up the ante with at-home gym equipment like a treadmill or weight system.
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Topics: Silent Auction Ideas, event-production

Oh, the Places Your Bidders Will Go: Travel Trends of 2016 INFOGRAPHIC

Posted by Summy Lau


Have you heard? There is a massive travel budget, or money that people set aside each year for vacations, in North America.

According to American Express, well over half of Americans have a travel budget (and we all know that percentage is probably much higher among the guests at a typical charity fundraiser). In fact, a whopping $600 billion is spent on leisure travel each year!

For many nonprofits, offering travel in the auction opens the door to a whole new revenue stream—travel budgets completely separate from a donor's 'philanthropic' budget.

Image result for unamused emojiWe could certainly use access to more revenue streams, but I don't think our audience really has the money to buy trips.

Valid point. But if you've never offered travel at your fundraising event before, you may be underestimating the giving power and travel budgets of your audience.

Surveys show 83% of winning bidders budget $5,000 annually for travel. What's more, 53% budget at least $10,000 per year for vacations.

What this means for your nonprofit: An overwhelming majority of your audience has set aside money to spend on a vacation package that they'll spend one way or another... whether through your fundraising event or with a travel agent.

Image result for thinking emojiOkay, some people in our audience are probably buying at least one trip this year. How do we know where they want to go?

While some cities and attractions maintain popularity year after year (think Hawaii and NYC), there are new, up-and-coming destinations and activities poised to become big winners at fundraising auctions this fall.

Check out our infographic highlighting the biggest travel trends of 2016 (spa day, anyone?), then learn how to quickly and easily reserve Winspire Experiences that cater to any niche traveler.

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Topics: nonprofit-infographic, travel-experiences, travel budgets, infographic

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 →