Winspire News

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

Silent Auction Forms: The Essential List


For nonprofit fundraising events, the silent auction has become an important 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. Prepare the letter with your organization’s letterhead and contact information for committee chairs. If the event has a unique logo incorporate that in the letterhead, if possible.

In your letter, include a brief emotional story from your organization to help the reader connect with your mission. If you can, try to incorporate a human component. 

Be specific with your request by explaining how it will help to make a difference for your nonprofit. Finally, make sure to convey your appreciation for their support.

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Topics: event-production

Top 5 Tools for Promoting Your 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

4 Reasons You May Be Skeptical of Consignment Travel


Successful charity galas rely on strong auctions. At most auction events there are the usual suspects – gift baskets, hair removal services (..ew), and dinner at a fine restaurant in town. Unique travel experiences, on the other hand, continue to be one of the most-anticipated and best-selling auction items in the industry.

However, while offering unique excursions is important to an event’s overall profitability, charities are sometimes hesitant to partner with a consignment travel company. Explore these four common concerns about using consignment travel to better understand how this service can benefit your charity:

1. The trips seem too expensive for our donors.  

Underestimating your donors’ spending capabilities is one of the quickest ways to dampen your auction results. Big donors are sophisticated buyers who come to your event with a spending budget in mind.

We hear this repeatedly from the thousands of winning bidders who redeem Winspire Experiences every year. In fact, we survey each of them when they return from their trip – primarily to gather feedback about their experience - but also to learn more about event fundraising dynamics from their perspective. 


Our surveys show that 76% of donors attend at least four charity events annually, and 42% of the winning bidders budget at least $10,000 each year for vacation travel. These are savvy auction veterans!

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Topics: fundraising, consignment travel

Congrats to our April Donation Give-Away Winner: Nikki Katrodia from WINGS Program!


We are excited to announce the winner of the April 2015 Donation Give-Away drawing! Nikki Katrodia of Rolling Meadows, IL will be using the two framed and autographed classic MLB jerseys to help raise money for the WINGS Program organization, where she works as the Special Events Coordinator. 

Donation-Give-Away-JERSEYS3WINGS was established in 1985 to provide integrated services and help combat domestic violence and homelessness one family at a time. Located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, WINGS is committed to helping abused and abandoned women and children overcome difficult life circumstances and accomplish goals that will lead to an enhanced quality of life. 

The donated jerseys will be used as silent auction items at their 9th Annual Charity Gold Outing on Monday, July 20th at the beautiful Inverness Golf Club. The proceeds raised at the event will support the woman and children of WINGS. For more information about the Golf Outing, visit

"I normally use Winspire travel packages at our Annual Purple Tie Ball that takes place in October. This event is well know for the auctions and especially the live auction," says Nikki, "Our guests love the packages and we received nothing but positive comments from past winners. The packages are unique and you have a great variety. Something for everyone. I have worked with Amanda Miles and she has been very helpful each time. The Napa Valley packages seems to be most popular with our donors."

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Topics: donation-give-away, donation-give-away-winner, nonprofits

31 Live Auction Ideas That Are Sure to Make a Splash


Live auctions are big money makers. They also offer great entertainment value for a fundraising event, dazzling audiences and building excitement as patrons compete for once-in-a-lifetime auction items. 

A successful auction requires awe-inspiring items, which can make coming up with ideas for your live auction a little difficult.   

We thought it would be fun to compile a list of the best live auction ideas we've come across, drawing from the thousands of fundraising events we work with each and every year.

Some of the auction item ideas we've heard were so great that we developed them into our own no-risk travel packages, a few of which we’ve included in this list. Many of the other ideas, though, are too specific, extreme or difficult to scale for us to be able to develop into a workable charity fundraising package. 

We hope this list of actual live auction items from across the country will help inspire your auction committee to reach for the stars during the procurement process. And hey – if it doesn’t work out, you can always reserve one of our incredible Experiences for free and with no-risk to your nonprofit. Simply create a Suitcase or schedule a free consultation to speak with an expert.

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Topics: event-production

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!


Click Here to view a recording of the webinar.

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. 

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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

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 →