Winspire News

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

This Simple Tool Delivers the Know-how to Raise $100,000 in One Night

Posted by Summy Lau


Which type of fundraising event makes the most money in the shortest amount of time? Is it a golf tournament or gala, 5K run/walk or raffle? Our answer: events with auctions, and for one simple reason. They make it fun for guests to spend money quickly.

At a typical auction...

A nonprofit has set up a one-night-only storefront where everything must go. Donors arrive ready to compete for the best deals on unique items procured around the community.

First guests browse the silent auction tables. Throw in dinner, cocktails, socializing and a good cause, and the money starts to flow very quickly. The silent auction is then closed and items sold to the highest bidder.

Next comes the live auction. The energy of the evening is at its peak. A skilled benefit auctioneer taps into people’s competitive nature. She combines one-ups-manship and big egos with an eager audience to ignite bidding wars. Tens of thousands of dollars are generated in a matter of minutes.

These prestigious social events combine ticket sales, special cash appeals and winning bids to raise anywhere from $50,000 to $1 million in one night.

bidding_war_gala.jpgSo, how do they raise that kind of money?

Welcome to the less glamorous side of event fundraising: Successful auctions require a ton of work and expertise. Committee chairs and legions of volunteers spend the better part of a year procuring donated items, creating displays, promoting the event, and more...all hoping the event will be both fun and profitable.

Auction planning is extremely complex, and many steps can be mishandled or overlooked.

The secret to navigating the process and acheiving your event's full potential is professional guidance. Imagine having an auction expert by your side to advise best practices, track logistics and suggest hidden revenue opportunities.

Wouldn't it be great knowing you've handled everything that needs to get done?

That’s where Checklist Builder comes in.

For months we have been developing a brand-new resource for event fundraisers in the Winspire community. Today we are proud to unveil Checklist Builder for you to try absolutely free!

Sign up Free

Read on to learn more about this new tool and how your organization can benefit.

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Topics: auctions, event-production, silent auctions, live auction, benefit auctioneer

Fishing for Bids? The Best and Worst Silent Auction Items to "Bait" Donors

Posted by Summy Lau

What sells best at a silent auction? We get this question all the time, and for good reason. As certified benefit auctioneer Danny Hooper noted in our recent webinar, one of the "10 deadly sins" of charity auction events is choosing the wrong items...

"My son is a great fisherman. One day last summer, we'd been fishing together all morning long with live bait. Hours later, we did not have a single bite. So my son suggested switching to a different lure. Lo and behold, two minutes later, we snagged this fish:


The moral of the story: The more distinct hooks you can throw into the water, the more fish you'll catch. I've gone to many events that have been run for over a decade, and year after year I see the same 10 auction items: the autographed hockey jersey, the dinner at the president's house... Successful auctions are be able to mix up the "bait" to entice virtually everyone in the room.

This is a real conundrum for a lot of committees. What are the right hooks?"

Indeed, not having the right bait can kill your revenue-earning potential. The best silent auction items suit your audience, work with your event theme, and have a high potential for income generation.

While every charity auction is difference, sales in years past are one good indicator of what to expect from your audience. What if your event is relatively new? Or better yet, you're looking to keep donors engaged and surprised with new and buzzworthy items?

As experts in event fundraising, we have discovered certain categories sell better than others. Read on to find out which are proven bestsellers, and which tend to be duds.

Best Sellers:
Sell often and get high bids

Food & Wine

Private dinners, vintage wines, brewery tours and sushi-making parties make Food & Wine a guest favorite. Does your silent auction selection channel your donors' inner "foodies"?

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Topics: procurement, Silent Auction Ideas, event-production

3 Easy Ways to Retain Event Sponsors (You'll thank yourself later!)

Posted by Summy Lau

fist-bump-draft.pngIf you've ever been part of a charity fundraising event, you know they can be costly. Sponsorships are a great way to offset expenses, give local businesses and individuals the chance to promote their brand, and build relationships.

Recently we've looked at best practices to create a sponsorship strategy, write proposal letters and follow up with potential sponsors (see below).

After all the hard work you've done to obtain sponsorships, today we'll conclude our sponsorship miniseries by discussing how to retain sponsors.

How successful is your organization at netting satisfied returning sponsors? Check out 3 simple post-event opportunities that leave a great impression with sponsors - come next year, you'll be glad you did!

Charity Event Sponsorship Series

This mini-series is meant to guide you through the process of acquiring and retaining sponsorships to support your charity auction fundraising event.

Part 1: The 2-Step Process to Securing Enthusiastic Event Sponsorships

Part 2: 10 Easy Steps to Effective Sponsorship Request Letters

Part 3: Do's & Don'ts of Charity Event Sponsorship Request Follow Up

Part 4: 3 Easy Ways to Retain Event Sponsors

1. Send an event summary and thank you letters

When the event is said and done, sponsors want to know how it went and, more importantly, how their company’s brand was positively impacted.

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Topics: donor-relations, sponsorships

How No-Risk Travel Is a Game Changer for Charity Auctions

Posted by Summy Lau

woman_travel_globe.jpgTravel is a proven bestseller in charity auctions, but when it comes to procuring exciting trips, there's an age old question. Does it make sense to do it yourself or to partner with a travel service provider?

At Winspire, we are big proponents of getting as much donated as possible. We even develop and provide free resources to help our clients in the procurement process.

That said, we also have had the privilege to work with and learn from over 28,000 events. And time and again, nonprofits say using a travel service provider makes charity event fundraising easier and more lucrative.

Today let's look at two of the most common challenges event organizers face that are addressed by no-risk travel: limited resources and an uninspiring auction catalog.

If you suspect bidders might be interested in spending some of their annual travel budget to support your cause, read on and see if consigned travel could take your event to the next level.

Challenge: Limited Time and Resources

The first challenge nonprofits face year-round is limited time and resources. With nonprofit budgets and staff stretched thin as it is, curating exciting, buzzworthy items is all too often considered out of reach. It makes sense that item procurement is typically regarded as a checkmark off the auction to-do list, and filling an auction with ‘anything’ is the goal.

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Topics: event-production

Do's & Don'ts of Charity Event Sponsorship Request Follow Up

Posted by Summy Lau

woman_introducing_herself.jpgOn Tuesday we shared 10 components of an effective charity event sponsorship request letter, plus rolled out the Winspire Sponsorship Kit templates that simplify the process from start to finish.

So, let’s say you’ve written and signed your letters, printed out the forms and shipped out all your sponsorship proposals. Now what?

Initial requests are only half the story. Now is your chance to maximize the impact of those letters by following up well with prospective sponsors.

Securing corporate sponsorships is a big task, and event volunteers and committee members need to have an organized follow up strategy prepared as soon as letters are sent. To assist, read on for the fundamental do's and don'ts of pursuing charity event sponsorships. Learn how to best position your proposals for success—and even turn a "no" into an enthusiastic “yes"!

DO: Follow up over the phone in a timely manner

Sending sponsorship proposal letters is kind of like submitting your resume for a job application. That piece of paper gets lost in a big stack of other papers unless you can do something to make yours stand out.

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Topics: donor-relations, event fundraising, sponsorships

10 Easy Steps to Effective Sponsorship Request Letters + FREE Templates

Posted by Summy Lau

Kit-diagram-sneak-peek-circle-with-picture.pngEvent fundraising raises a lot of money in a short amount of time, but the annual gala and golf tournament can be expensive to run as well. Fortunately, securing sponsorships is a great opportunity to offset event expenses while giving companies the chance to promote their brand at your event.

In a recent post, we looked at the importance of acquiring event sponsors, how to set sponsorship levels, ideas for publicity rewards and how to find like-minded potential sponsors.

Today we will go over the nuts and bolts of your nonprofit's most important tool in sponsorship acquisition: the request letter! Check out 10 easy steps to craft a concise, enthusiastic and effective sponsorship proposal letter.

Best of all, the letter doesn't need to take a ton of time. To assist, we are proud to unveil Winspire's latest free resource: a Sponsorship Kit! The Kit contains sample letters, forms and easy-to-customize templates that simplify the process from start to finish.

Read on for the basic elements of an impactful sponsorship request, plus get the link to download your free copy of the Sponsorship Kit today.

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Topics: donor-relations, donation form, sponsorships

How Nonprofit Giving Changes in an Election Year: INFOGRAPHIC

Posted by Summy Lau


For months, coverage of the presidential election has consumed newspapers, tabloids, Facebook feeds and cable news. With another milestone primary coming up on June 7, the November election is at the forefront of everyone’s minds...including your donors.

You might be wondering if charitable support is affected during an election year. After all, politicians run donor giving campaigns just like nonprofits, and candidates are skilled at securing a wide range of contributions from invested citizens across the nation.

Could campaign giving cannibalize your donations?

Click below to see how nonprofit giving does change in an election year—and how to turn that change into a positive for your cause.

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Top 6 Travel Destinations of 2016 to Offer at Your Next Fundraiser (¿te gusta Cuba?)

Posted by Summy Lau

suitcase_summer_travel.jpgWelcome back from Memorial Day weekend, Winspire community! The holiday commemorating the sacrifice of our armed forces is widely regarded as the unofficial start of summer.

Do you consider today the start of the charity fundraising "slow season" as well?

It doesn't have to be! Whether your next event is in a few days or a few months, the prep work you do now will directly translate to results. The relative down time of summer is the perfect opportunity for nonprofits to lay the groundwork for more effective fundraising year-round.

In our next series of articles, we'll discuss some efficient ways to use this time, such as catching up with donors, securing gala logistics, procuring auction items and trying out creative fundraising ideas. We'll also look at strategies to revamp popular outdoor events like golf tournaments, Fun Runs, 5Ks and wine tastings with new sponsors, press releases, raffles and more. Sound good?

To kick off this important series, let's talk travel. As the weather warms, summer travel is on the forefront of every donor's mind. So we compiled a list of 6 top-rated, "bucket list" travel destinations that are making headlines in 2016. Why not quickly and easily reserve these trips through Winspire, then use the following information to promote the items before your next auction?

Top destinations, according to travel critics nationwide

1. Havana, Cuba

cuban_flag_in_door.pngNo 2016 travel list would be complete without a mention of Havana, Cuba, thanks to a lifting of a 54-year trade embargo and the U.S. Embassy reopening in August 2015.

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3 Keys to Writing Mobile-Friendly Event Emails (that reach 65% more people!)

Posted by Summy Lau

Trouble_reading_email_mobile2.jpgEmail is a key piece of any fundraiser's promotional campaign. In recent weeks, we've discussed how to write event emails that impact as many people as possible: writing compelling "Save the date" invitations; strategic best practices for emails leading up to the event; segmenting your donor database to increase participation; and timing emails when they're most likely to be read.

The final piece: crafting emails that are responsive on mobile devices.

"Responsive design" refers to content that is easy for anyone to view, scan and digest on any device: laptop, smartphone, tablet and so forth. When creating nonprofit event emails, this is a critical but often overlooked consideration.

These days, not everyone is reading your email on a desktop computer. More than half of all email in the U.S. – a full 65 percent – is now being accessed via mobile devices. (In fact, nearly 4 out of every 10 visits to Winspire News is from a mobile device!)

couple_checking_email_mobile_device2.jpgIndeed, with nearly two-thirds of Americans owning smartphones and 42 percent owning a tablet, mobile devices have become the new norm. Ignoring mobile compatibility for email marketing is like dismissing the needs of over half your readers.

However, if you start designing with mobile in mind, you could potentially double your audience, attendees and ultimately event revenue.

Read on to see how you can capture 100 percent of your audience by writing event promotional emails that look great on any device. (Best of all, these tips work great for most emails you send year-round.)

Select an Email Service Provider

First things first: you’ll need to pick an email service provider. Many nonprofits use tools like Outlook that are simple but don't offer mobile responsive design (and also lack analytic tools; the ability to schedule emails in advance; a lower likelihood of being marked as spam; professional get the idea.).

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Topics: event-production, email marketing, mobile fundraising

WEBINAR: Watch "Generate Record Profits at Your Next Fundraising Auction"

Posted by Summy Lau


We are excited to present a free recording of our latest webinar, "Generate Record Profits at Your Next Fundraising Auction"! In this FREE, exclusive one-hour session, renowned fundraising auctioneer Danny Hooper shared unique fundraising techniques that keep an audience engaged and extract more money out of the room. Topics covered include:

  • The 3 E's of a successful fundraising auction event
  • How to structure your event so everyone stays focused on the goal
  • How to secure sponsors, donors and underwriters
  • How to get a top auctioneer for free
  • The hottest new extra revenue generators such as the Wildcard Auction™, Legacy Auction, Blind Auction, Triple Chance Raffle, and more
  • How to raise more money than you thought possible!

This is a must-watch for anybody associated with a fundraising auction who wants to achieve record-breaking results at their next event and develop a foundation for successful event fundraisers for years to come.

Just click here to watch the video and share with colleagues, and read on to see what other auction fundraisers are saying about our auction webinar series and how your nonprofit can benefit.

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Topics: event-production, webinar

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 →