Don't Give Up: Auctioneer Shares Tips to Save a Dying Fundraising Auction

Posted by Summy Lau on Apr 4, 2017 11:08:50 AM

Cheryl Parker Post Image.png

When it comes to charity auctions, many organizers simply "don't know what they don't know." Unfortunately, a lack of professional expertise is the #1 reason events fall short of their revenue goals.

To help provide the expertise needed for success, we interviewed Cheryl Parker, certified benefit auctioneer specialist in San Diego, Calif., for a recent episode of event fundraising podcast Events with BenefitsParker shares her simple - yet often overlooked - strategies for generating as much revenue as possible at auction events.

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

Practical Tips for Serving Food at a Fundraising Auction 🍴

Posted by Summy Lau on Oct 25, 2016 7:00:00 AM


English author Virginia Woolf once wrote, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."

We believe the same is true for giving well.

Many fundraising events revolve around food - think evening galas with multi-course meals; golf tournaments with buffet lunches; rotary auctions with brunch and more. Why? For one thing, donors need nourishment to make it through a 4 hour event.

What's more, meals also provide the chance to sit down and socialize, celebrate your cause in community and provide an all-inclusive "fun night out" for couples and friends.

A meal's execution can heavily impact donors' experience and overall success of the event, for better or worse.

Check out practical tips for seamless food service in any event, including:

  1. Gala with Three Course Meal
  2. Buffet
  3. Small Bites & Sips
  4. "Dry" Lunchtime Auction

You'll also learn a neat way to generate more income for your cause from serving dinner. If you plan to feed guests, you'll want to read and bookmark today's post! 

Scenario 1: Gala with Three Course Meal

It's finally time for the annual charity ball or gala. Your guests have arrived dressed to the nines, eager for a fun evening. The energy is palpable.

The more you can cater to guests' finer tastes, the more your auction event will come across as a luxury shopping spree - and the higher bids will go!

Here are a few easy ways to help make your gala dinner a success.

  • Consider conducting the live auction during dinner.

Where you schedule the live auction can depend on your audience and other elements in the program, but let's first look at when not to have your live auction: late in the evening.

Suppose you’ve opened the doors to your event at 5:30 for cocktails. An hour goes by. Now people are sitting for dinner at 7. There’s wine on the table, they’re having more drinks, then enjoying a big meal and decadent dessert. All the while, folks are looking at the silent auction tables and refreshing their drinks. Suddenly it's 9:30pm and time to start the live auction. How will you go about getting everyone seated and focused?

There's a better way.

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Topics: event-production, live auction, food and menu planning

Wildcard Auction Raises $10,000 Out of Thin Air [VIDEO + TEMPLATES]

Posted by Summy Lau on Oct 11, 2016 10:23:59 AM


Click to view how-to video on Youtube

To keep the focus on fundraising at your event, you want to employ fresh and exciting income streams. One that has generated plenty of interest in our webinars: the Wildcard Auction™. This is an entertaining, fast-paced revenue opportunity that can raise tens of thousands of dollars for your cause—without requiring any extra time or resources to procure items!

Sound too good to be true? It's not, and today you'll learn exactly how you can try this at your next fundraising event.

Read on for the resources you need to run your own Wildcard Auction: an instructional video, step-by-step guide, printable Wildcard form (PDF) and customizable template (Word).

Origins of the Wildcard Auction

Today's idea comes to us from benefit auctioneer specialist Danny Hooper. Check out his experience with his very first Wildcard Auction:

"For years and years, people would come up to me after the live auction and say, 'You know what, I would have been happy to donate something, but nobody asked me.' I heard this over and over.

Finally, at a rotary auction event, I decided to try something new.

I took a pack of neon-colored index cards and tossed a couple on each table. Then I said from the stage, 'Folks, tonight I’m gonna try something called a Wildcard Auction. If you've got an item you could donate to the live auction tonight, write down your name, your phone number and the item you’d like to donate, then send it up to the stage.'

The very first night I did this, we made $46,500 off the floor."

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Topics: event-production, new fundraising event ideas, live auction, auction item ideas

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

Posted by Summy Lau on Aug 4, 2016 10:50:11 AM

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 for your nonprofit fundraiser

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 mingling—and 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.

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

This Live Auction Sequence Works Like Magic to Maximize Bids

Posted by Summy Lau on Jul 21, 2016 9:00:13 AM

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

3 Must-try Techniques to Generate More Money from Your Charity Auction (hint: wine trees!)

Posted by Summy Lau on Jul 7, 2016 9:44:32 AM
Entertain, Engage, and Extract - The 3 E's of Successful Nonprofit Fundraising

Nonprofits that host charity fundraising events have very different goals than those who attend. On one side of the fence, guests want to be entertained and have fun. On the other, nonprofits urgently need to raise money to support their mission.

To the rescue: the 3 E's of a successful fundraising event, as coined by fundraising auctioneer Danny Hooper—Entertain, Engage and Extract. These 3 simple principles allow your event to reach its full revenue potential. (For more, check out "The "3 E's" that Bridge the Gap Between Fun and Fundraising.")

Keep your guests entertained yet focused on the fundraising by providing donation opportunities they have never seen before. Read on for 3 fresh techniques to employ in your upcoming auction, whether it's in a few months or a few days. (Think your guests would be interested in bidding on a wine tree?) 

If you like what you see, there's a lot more where that came from! Get more details and ideas instantly by signing up for Winspire's latest resource, Checklist Builder.

Method 1: The Super Signature Technique

This technique works like magic when auctioning off subjective items like artwork that may not have an obvious market value. See how Danny employed this technique to generate 50 times more revenue from a single photograph...

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Topics: event-production, live auction, charity auction ideas, auction item ideas

The "3 E's" that Bridge the Gap Between Fun and Fundraising

Posted by Summy Lau on Jun 30, 2016 10:23:17 AM


Between procuring donated items, tracking logistics, securing sponsorhips, promoting ticket sales and more, we all know charity auction events are a lot of work. So why do we still hold them? Nearly all nonprofits would likely say it's because their organization or cause needs the money.

However, research by the National Auctioneers' Association reveals the #1 reason 93% of attendees choose to buy a ticket is not to support your cause, but to HAVE FUN!

On one hand, nonprofits need to make money. On the other hand, guests want to have a good time.

How do we bridge that gap?

Enter the "3 E's" of hosting a fundraiser that's both fun and profitable, as coined by benefit auctioneer Danny Hooper:

1. Entertain
2. Engage
3. Extract

You may spend up to 12 months meticulously planning a lavish event that runs seamlessly... but without all 3 components working together, the night cannot meet its full revenue potential. 

Read on for more on the 3 E's and practical ways to incorporate these fundamentals in your next fundraiser.

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Topics: fundraising, live auction

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

Posted by Summy Lau on Jun 23, 2016 8:51:02 AM
Checklist Builder - Event planning checklist software

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.

Event planning checklistSo, 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

The Insider Strategy that Triples Revenue from One Auction Item

Posted by Summy Lau on Mar 15, 2016 10:00:06 AM

consignment auction items

Consignment travel packages can be extremely lucrative for your nonprofit, and one of the biggest reasons is the ability to sell incredible trips multiple times, at no risk to you.

Doing so benefits your event in three ways:

  1. Increase revenue: Double, triple or quadruple your profit on a single package.
  2. It's a win, win, win: More happy bidders, but the biggest winner is your nonprofit.
  3. Capture secondary bidders: For every successful bidder there are typically one or two people who may have been bidding on the same item, but were unsuccessful. What happens to the money they were prepared to spend moments earlier? Doubling up enables your auctioneer to capture additional revenue from more people.

Best of all, it's easier to pull off than you might think! There are virtually unlimited ways to sell multiple no-risk consignment travel packages at any point of your event timeline—before, during and after—that don't take any extra procurement on your part and cost nothing if they don't sell.

Is your nonprofit reaching out for this low-hanging fruit?

Read on for the strategies our nonprofit clients have used to double, triple, even quadruple their revenue on a single package to raise a lot more for their cause.

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Topics: fundraising, Silent Auction Ideas, live auction, selling multiples

Live or Silent Auction Fundraiser? That is the Question [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted by Ian Lauth on Jan 20, 2015 10:01:00 AM

Live Auction Fundraiser or Silent Auction Fundraiser? That is the question...

These days no charity fundraiser is complete without a dazzling auction to delight donors and get them excited to spend money for your cause. Before you start planning your next benefit auction, ask yourself which type of auction is better suited for your event - a live auction or a silent auction... or both? 

While both live and silent auctions have their advantages, it is important to carefully evaluate your event to determine which type of auction is going to be the best fit for your audience, your auction items, and your fundraising venue.

Quite often, Nonprofits will opt for a blend of both live and silent auctions at their fundraising event.  In these cases, it is important to know the rules of thumb for how much revenue you can expect to generate from items offered in both the live and silent auctions to ensure that you meet your auction fundraising goals.

We put together the following infographic as a general overview showing the advantages of each fundraising method and providing some examples of the "auction math" you'll have to do when planning your next event.


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Topics: fundraising, live auction

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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.