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Special Appeals: When's the Best Time to Ask?

Posted by Ian Lauth on May 27, 2015 9:57:52 AM

Benefit Auctioneer Specialist Ben Farrell

The special appeal. The fund-a-need. The funding plea. The "Ask"... The only hotter topic of debate than what to call the special appeal has to be when, exactly, you should schedule it during your charity auction event. Okay, so maybe special appeal placement isn't exactly a burning debate, but it's certainly a subject of discussion within the fundraising community... and it's not hard to see why.

After all, charity auctions have many moving parts -- the silent auction, the live auction, the presenters, the cocktails, the food -- it can be easy to simply place the appeal wherever it seems convenient within the schedule. But, just as with each element of an event, there needs to be a strategy, and in the case of the special appeal, there's more than one school of thought on which strategy is most effective: Specifically, should the special appeal come before or after the live auction? 

We asked two well-known Benefit Auctioneer Specialists, Doug Sorrell and Ben Farrell, to shed some light on the varying strategies for placing the special appeal during a charity auction event.

A quick note: The placement of the special appeal really depends on your audience and the size and scope of your event. As Doug Sorrell puts it: “Both sides of this debate are correct.” We simply wanted to explore the reasoning behind each strategy so you can make an informed decision for your own fundraising event.  

Special Appeal After the Live Auction

The prevailing philosophy among many of the more traditional benefit auctioneers is to schedule the fund-a-need last, after the live auction, when people are swept up in the excitement, emotion and energy of bidding on big-ticket items. Placing the appeal before the live auction can also have a detrimental effect on the level of audience participating during the live auction.  

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Topics: event-production, cash appeal

Charitable Giving Trends in Canada [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted by Ian Lauth on May 21, 2015 9:09:00 AM

Charitable Giving Trends in Canada (INFOGRAPHIC)

Charitable giving in Canada is at an all-time high. In 2010, just as we began climbing out of the global recession, 84% of adult Canadians or just under 24 million people reported making at least one donation to charity during the calendar year. At an average donation of $446, the total amount donated to charity was over $10.6 billion.

While this may be a drop in the bucket compared to the $278 billion donated by U.S. households in 2009 at the height of the recession, it is a dramatic increase over the $4 billion that was contributed as recently as the 1990's - showing that giving in Canada is on the rise. It's also important to note that Canada was ranked #2 behind the US in the 2013 World Giving Index rankings of the most charitable nations of the world.

In this infographic, we explore the trends of charitable giving in Canada, including how donations and donation rates vary by age, gender, income, education, and place of residence. Overall the findings show that Canadians are strongly inclined to donate to charity, regardless of their demographic background.

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Topics: nonprofits, infographic

Writing Item Descriptions for a Silent Auction is Easier Than You Think

Posted by Ian Lauth on May 19, 2015 11:14:00 AM


Vibrant tables filled with unique and exciting auction items are the focal point for many nonprofit fundraising events. These silent charity auctions offer guests a fun social activity that also facilitates spending money, which can turn out to be very profitable for your cause.

Attendees of most charity auctions possess a shopping mentality as they circulate through the silent auction tables, browsing items and vying for the top bid spot on the things they want. For many, the combination of competition and shopping can provide an exhilarating experience. Not to mention... it's for charity! So many of the normal shopping barriers such as, "I don't really need that..." don't exist.


As you work on your next silent auction, remember to think of it as your "one night only" storefront. You are setting up a temporary retail store, and just like any retail store that sells merchandise, you must create enticing displays that encourage people to stop, look and buy. A crucial part of creating this shopping experience is the silent auction item description.


Save Time. Keep it Simple. 

Don't waste your time coming up with a unique display for each and every item. It's best to figure out a single item display template that you can use for all your items. Develop a template with the same colors, fonts, layout, look and feel that will work for 95% of your items and then replicate it. 

This not only saves you time but also keeps your displays consistent throughout the event. Your auction tables will have a professional, polished appearance that is attractive and easy to navigate - which lends itself to a smoother shopping experience for your guests.


Download Silent Auction Item Display Sheet Templates


Auction item displays should be clear, uncluttered and easy to read quickly. Following are a few things to keep in mind before you start creating displays for your next silent auction: 

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Topics: event-production, auction displays

What is SEO and How Can It Help My Nonprofit?

Posted by Ian Lauth on May 12, 2015 10:24:00 AM

Easy SEO tips for Nonprofits

Before you skip over this article! For those of you who are new to the whole concept of search rankings, I encourage you to give this article a chance! You probably know more than you think and will be able to make some of these tips work for your nonprofit. 

Search Engine Optimization, or “SEO”, has become a frequent topic among marketing and development directors at nonprofit organizations. While most marketers know that SEO can benefit their organization, few understand the factors that impact search and what you can do to help your organization establish a more competitive position in the Google search rankings.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

On it's most basic level, SEO is a strategy for making an organization's website easier to find on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing the code and content of a website so that it is perceived by search engines, such as Google, as being highly relevant for certain search terms. The benefit of a well-executed SEO program is that your site will achieve higher search rankings for targeted keywords, which drives more new users and better quality traffic to your website.

For example, if you are looking for someone to paint your house and you Google "house painter", you are going to get a list of search results for companies that will happily provide that service. In fact, you'll probably get tens of millions of results:

The ultimate objective of SEO is to get a website to appear on the first page of search results. Getting on the first page of search engine results is the holy grail for marketers because websites that show up first get far more traffic - 90% of all clicks - compared to websites that fall to the second or third pages, which receive less than 10% of traffic.

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Topics: nonprofits

4 Simple Donor Segments That Will Maximize Your Fundraising Efforts

Posted by Ian Lauth on May 8, 2015 10:38:00 AM

Target donor segments to maximize the fundraising efforts for your nonprofit

While segmenting donors is not a new concept, there are strategies you might not have tried yet. Nonprofits typically group donors into categories based on demographic information and donors’ interests. As an example, your organization may already be using communication methods to reach baby boomers that are different from those used to target millennials.

This is an effective tactic, but it’s not the only one you should try.

Another way to segment donors is to categorize based on giving. When you group donors by how much and how often they give, you can dramatically improve your marketing efforts by focusing on those who are more likely to give while pinpointing donors who aren’t giving and may actually be costing you money.

How to segment donors

To categorize donors, Steve Shattuck, VP of Marketing at Bloomerang, suggests creating four distinct groups:

Segmenting nonprofit donor base for better ROI on marketing efforts

  • New donors at or below average gift amount
  • Returning donors at or below average gift amount
  • New donors above average gift amount
  • Returning donors above average gift amount


Let's dive into each donor segment to see what they mean for your development efforts...

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Topics: fundraising

¡Arriba! Mexico Trips You'll Love this Cinco De Mayo

Posted by Sharon Ruback on May 5, 2015 9:10:00 AM


Did you know Cinco de Mayo is a much bigger celebration in the U.S. than in Mexico?

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day (that occurred 50 years prior to the Battle of Puebla, which is celebrated on September 16). The significance of today is that on May 5, 1862, the Mexican army celebrated a remarkable victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla. The Mexican army won the battle despite having far fewer troops and less artillery. 

In the American interpretation of Cinco de Mayo, the celebration calls for tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole (an estimated 81 million avocados will be consumed today in the U.S.) and margaritas!

While your donors are enjoying a fiesta with family, friends and colleagues, they might find themselves daydreaming about vacationing at a luxury resort in Mexico, enjoying the warm ocean and sunny skies…

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Topics: travel-experiences

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Meet 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 fundraising advice, industry news and insight into charity fundraising with travel.