Winspire News

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

13 Proven Ways to Revive a Stagnant Fundraising Event

Posted by Summy Lau

Lightbulb_sketch_small.pngStudents heading back to school, Labor Day plans and preseason football can only mean one thing: Fall fundraising season is upon us.

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Why Email Is Your Fundraising Event's Greatest Asset (NEW eBook + calendar template!)

Posted by Summy Lau

Email Event Promotion - Generate More Revenue for Your NonprofitLet's say the annual fundraising gala is 6 to 12 months away. You’ll spend a huge amount of effort and time planning the program, sorting out details and procuring amazing items for the charity auction.

Wouldn’t you want to spread the word about your event as far and wide as you can?

For most charity fundraisers, email is the meat of the marketing campaign. A promotional email campaign can be used to generate excitement, sell more tickets, highlight your best auction items and remind supporters about the impact they have on your organization.

Download the eBook →

Email campaigns empower nonprofits of all sizes to reach more people faster and easier.

Fortunately, creating an effective, strategic email event promotion campaign is easier than you might think.

Here at Winspire we are passionate about helping nonprofits raise more money at events. That's why we are thrilled to unveil a brand-new resource for our blog subscribers today: the "Beginner's Guide to Email Event Promotion" eBook!

Read on for 4 of the main reasons email is your fundraising event's greatest asset, plus get the link to download the brand-new (and totally free!) eBook. Even better: We've also created a fully customizable weekly content calendar that you can use to organize and strategize emails based on the best practices outlined in the eBook.

Why Email + Charity Events = BFFs

1. It's cost-effective.

To help nonprofits host more profitable events, we often focus on strategies to increase revenue. However email is a great way to trim costs.

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3 Simple Steps to Offer Travel in Your Fundraising Auction

Posted by Summy Lau

Click the full screen icon in the bottom right corner (Full_screen_icon.png) to view larger

One of the most common challenges we hear from event fundraisers is ever-increasing revenue goals.

Sound familiar?

It is very rare to see a fundraising event’s revenue goals stay flat or decrease the following year. In fact, the revenue goal almost always increases while more resources, more budget and new strategies are rarely deployed. Fairly soon after you experience the high of reaching your goals, reality sets in and the stress starts all over again.

Travel Packages for your auction fundraiserWhat you need: a fresh, emerging revenue strategy.

One of the most underutilized strategies is redirecting donor travel budgets with no-risk travel.

Surveys show two-thirds of winning bidders take 3 or more trips per year. Almost half take 4 or more trips, and nearly 20% say they take 6 or more trips annually!

People want to experience life through travel, and it just so happens the sort of supporters you are trying to identify and develop into major donors travel a lot.

What this means for your nonprofit: If you're not already offering travel at your annual auction or fundraising event, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity. Check out just a sampling of the benefits of offering travel:

  1. Stand out from the competition.
  2. Improve your overall branding.
  3. Encourage supporters to spend their annual travel budget at your event.
  4. Attract new donors and identify potential major donors.
  5. With no-risk travel, you can sell multiples with a guaranteed return on investment.

Read on for the 3 step process to including travel in your fundraising event.

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Topics: fundraising, travel budgets

Nonprofit Crowdfunding 101: 4 Tactics to Reach New Donors and Raise More Money

Posted by Summy Lau

Nonprofit Crowdfunding - 4 tactics to reach more donors

Crowdfunding, which refers to any form of group fundraising, has been around for years. The term used to refer to entrepeneurs looking for angel investors and venture capital to launch their business, Shark Tank-style. But recently online crowdfunding sites have changed the landscape of individual giving.

What is a crowdfunding site? Simply put, it's a fundraising page around which individuals and organizations create an online giving campaign. Donors can pay directly on that page using the website's own credit card processor.

Kickstarter for nonprofit crowdfunding

Perhaps you heard in 2015 of a lighthearted Kickstarter campaign from Columbus, Ohio to fund the creation of this potato salad—that generated $55,492 from nearly 7,000 people along the way.

Who could forget about the sensational "ice bucket challenge" of 2014? The ALS Association successfully tapped into the viral nature of social media, videos and tagging like never before to raise $115 million in 8 weeks.

More recently, Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign made headlines by raising a record-breaking 2.5 million individual donations at around $27 each.

In 2015, the crowdfunding industry raised $34.4B, and 30 percent went to social causes. The World Bank estimates that if crowdfunding growth continues its pace, it will reach a whopping $90B by 2017. Needless to say, the iron is hot!

Crowdfunding is goal-oriented, fast-paced and fun for donors. Could your nonprofit benefit from the trend?

Below are 4 crowdfunding tactics major brands use that nonprofits should adopt to raise more for their causes.

1. Promote the brand // Capture more donations.

Crowdfunding platforms offer corporations the chance to engage large (virtually limitless) amounts of people with their brand and promote new products at a very low cost. Even if a campaign isn't successful, hundreds or thousands of people have interacted with the brand and their ideas—an invaluable benefit to the company.

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Topics: fundraising

Profit Plans: Generate More Revenue from Every Minute of Your Fundraising Event

Posted by Summy Lau

Use Profit Plans for More Revenue from Your Fundraising EventAs the peak of summer winds down, fall fundraising season is fast approaching. That means it's almost time for many nonprofits' version of the "Super Bowl": the annual charity gala, auction, raffle, tournament and more.

Imagine the doors are open, the ballroom is full, tickets have been sold, and the crowd is ready to support your cause—with bigger philanthropic wallets than anyone ever estimates. You've only got 4 or 5 hours to capture all that money for your cause before it walks out the room at the end of the night.

Time is not your friend, and you don't want to waste any of it.

Where should the money come from during your fundraising event? Everyone knows the most popular income streams: the live auction, silent auction, cash appeals. In fact there are many different income streams to consider:

Multiple Income Stream Tree - Fundraising Event Tactics

In this revenue-generating tree, the leaves represent the money you're trying to raise for your cause. Each root and tendril represents a different potential income stream that could be pulled up during your charity fundraiser.

Bottom line: Profits don't just happen.

To get all the leaves off the tree, organizations need to create a detailed, diverse profit plan now, months before the fundraising event, in the planning stages. And you need someone who knows what they're doing at the helm of your eventsomeone who will use the right tools at the right time to raise as much as possible.

Read on for practical tips to incorporate diverse revenue generators into the night's agenda, plus the answers to a few common questions we've received on the topic.

Cut fundraising "dead zones" out of your agenda

When planning the night's agenda, think very critically of each element in the evening's agenda. Is this producing income and getting us closer to our final fundraising goal?

This can be difficult for many nonprofits; after all, the annual gala has always had a lengthy entertainment portion, a 45-minute speech from the hospital administrator, the presentation of a dozen awards and the same trusty gift baskets and restaurant certificates in the silent auction.

That doesn't mean you can't do better. In fact, thinking outside the box, amping up excitement and streamlining the program will likely be a gamechanger for your event.

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Topics: maximize-fundraising-revenue, auctions, event-production, fundraising auctions

Too Many Items? 4 Amazingly Simple Solutions to Top Live Auction Problems

Posted by Summy Lau

Question: What do you think is the ideal number of items for a typical live auction?

6, 8, 15 or more?

We asked this in our last webinar and got a wide variety of responses:

The ideal number of live auction items

The correct answer is indeed 8 to 12 items.

Here's why: No matter how entertaining or engaging your auctioneer may be, people will only listen to his or her banter ("25, 25, 5, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, holding at 45...") for so long. Once the crowd starts tuning out the auction, control of the room can be lost very quickly to table chatter and minglingand the rest of the night's event revenue is in serious trouble.

Simply put, the amount of money you make in a live auction drops off the more items you have in your auction.

Now, let's say you have too many items. We have nonprofits that go above and beyond the call of auction acquisition duty and end up procuring 20, 25, even 30 items that would be suitable for live auction. What then?

And what if you've procured too few?

Read on for 4 useful solutions to common live auction problems, plus don't miss your chance to sign up for our upcoming webinar, "Ask an Auctioneer!". In this special one-hour session, charity event organizers like you get the chance to pick the brain of a certified benefit auctioneer. Just in time for your fall fundraiser!

Problem 1: Too many items

"Did you say 8 to 12 live auction items? We have 25! What should we do with our extra items?"

Good news: Having more than 12 high-quality items that would be appropriate for a live auction is no problem at all!

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Topics: event-production, live auction, live auction items

3 Steps to Negotiating a Better Price on Your Fundraising Event Venue

Posted by Summy Lau

Fundraising Event Venues - Negotiating a better priceAt Winspire News, we are passionate about helping nonprofits generate as much profit as possible from their fundraising events. To do so, we often focus on strategies for nonprofits to increase revenue, but today we're going to look at a way to trim costs.

One of the biggest expenses in organizing a charity fundraising event is the cost of renting an off-site venue. The venue you choose is important; the space sets the tone for the night and goes a long way to making donors feel comfortable, entertained and eager to support your cause.

You want a place that's big enough to hold all your donors, plus glamorous enough to feel like a night on the town...without gobbling up all your hard-earned auction earnings.

Are you getting the best deal for your venue?

In this two-part series, learn how to assess venue options, chip away at venue costs and negotiate even better service in return. (The best part: You don't need to be a tough-as-nails negotiator to benefit from these ideas!)

Step 1: Outline your event needs

As soon as possible before your event, you'll want to appoint a chairperson to oversee logistics of the event like venue and catering. This person would ideally have experience in event planning or hospitality, but more importantly they should pay attention to details and be willing to closely review contract terms and conditions. They will lead the way in assessing sites for your event.

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Topics: maximize-fundraising-revenue, event-production, nonprofit event fundraiser

Mobile and Online Bidding: A Comprehensive Guide to Silent Auction Technology

Posted by Summy Lau

Mobile and Online Bidding Strategies for Silent Auctions

Charity auctions are consistently among the most popular and lucrative events nonprofits can host.

While the basic rules of fundraising auctions have remained the same over the years, the format of these events is rapidly evolving, thanks to the advancement of auction technology.

On the one hand, auction technology has made planning and executing charity auctions much easier for nonprofits. On the other, because it’s so specialized, many organizations are at a loss as to what exactly auction software does and how they can use it in practice.

We regularly receive questions from fundraisers about auction technology, so we wanted to clear up some of the uncertainty. We teamed up with our friends at BidPal to create an expert comprehensive guide to auction technology. Today we'll cover:

  1. Online Auctions & Event Sites
  2. Online Auction Catalogs
  3. Online Ticketing
  4. Mobile Bidding: More Profitable Silent Auctions
  5. Mobile Bidding: Smoother Live Cash Appeals
  6. Auction Scoreboards and Fundraising Thermometers

Read on to learn the basic functionalities of auction software, plus practical ways these tools can raise more at your next auction.

Online Auctions and Event Sites - Charity Auction Technology

1. Online Auctions & Event Sites

Online auctions are, simply put, digital silent auctions.

While most charity auctions are limited to a single night and venue, online auctions allow organizations to open up their auctions to more donors for longer periods of time. They're typically paired with silent and live auctions to make the most of your marketing efforts. Plus, since there are fewer costs with an online event, they can be done with minimal risk or investment.

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Topics: event-production, silent auction bid sheets, online donors, mobile bidding, event-promotion, mobile fundraising

13 Ways Board Members Can Become Fundraising Event Superheroes

Posted by Summy Lau

Charity Board Member Fundraising

The board is critical to a nonprofit's success and longevity. Board members voluntarily give their time, resources, professional insight and more to support a cause they believe in. They also serve as the public face of an organization, advocating for your work and impact.

Not only do board members participate in day-to-day operations, they're needed to pull off special fundraising events throughout the year. Are you making the most of their time and efforts?

Read on for 13 simple ways board members, with nonprofit support, can become the superheroes every fundraising event needs. (One example: Did you know donors who receive a thank-you call from board members within one day of their gift give 39% more the next time they're asked?)

1. Invite major donors and VIPs over the phone.

Fundraising Major DonorsEnsure your charity's biggest supporters know their presence would be missed at the upcoming golf tournament, gala or auction. They're a lot less likely to reject or ignore an invitation when it's personalized, from one of the leaders of your organization.

Make this as easy as possible for busy board members. Supply a sample script they can reference in the call, with all the important details on registration, ticket sales, the night's agenda and goals.

If you're holding an auction, the invitation call is also a great time to find out what items these major donors would be most interested in bidding on. 

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Topics: donor-relations

This Live Auction Sequence Works Like Magic to Maximize Bids

Posted by Summy Lau

Live Auction Sequence Tips

Picture this: Your procurement team has done an amazing job getting valuable items donated, reserved or underwritten for the live and silent auctions. You have 8 to 12 standout items ready for the live auction, including a catered dinner party at a donor's home, a flat-screen TV, sold-out concert tickets and a 5-night culinary excursion to Tuscany.

Now you need every item to bring in as much revenue as possible. Do you know how to order your live auction items to garner the highest bids?

Will you sequence your auction items in terms of increasing value? Alternate big-ticket and smaller items? Arrange by color, size, or alphabetical order? Does it even make a difference??

As fundraising auction experts, we know order matters. The simplest and most effective way to lay out your live auction: Draw a bell curve. Read on to discover how this smooth sequence keeps the audience engaged, entertained and, most importantly, eager to bid.

The Proper Live Auction Sequence

Start of the curve

On the left we have the "tangible zone": items that donors can typically see on the stage and take home that night. This includes household goods, electronics, food and wine and more. To get the crowd involved and comfortable bidding, start with lower-priced tangible items. One great way to use these items is in an icebreaker, as suggested by our friend and benefit auctioneer Danny Hooper in a recent webinar.

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Topics: event-production, live auction

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

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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 →