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8 Ideas for Securing Incredible Charity Auction Items Early

Posted by Ian Lauth

8 Ideas for Securing Incredible Charity Auction Items Early

Take the heat off by preparing for fall live and silent auctions now. Call your auction committee for happy hour by the pool and devise a strategy to round up the best items using these tips:

BUILD-Procurement-Team1. Build your procurement committee 

Assemble a team of capable, connected and committed individuals to go out and acquire the items you want for your auction. Don't be afraid to be selective but make sure you give all interested parties an opportunity to get involved. For more on this, see:

2. Host a wish list party

Wish-List-Party-1One of the best ways to get the ball rolling with procurement is to gather your committee and have an informal gathering to brainstorm ideas. Make it fun! Host it outside the office and provide food and drinks as an added incentive for team members to show up. The idea here is to create a festive atmosphere to get your team in the right mindset to discuss the event. For more on this, see this article:

3. Consider incentives to motivate your team

procurement-incentivesReward your committee members for their efforts by setting goals and awarding prizes for outstanding acquisitions. Start by talking to your team about potential incentives – they know better than anyone what motivates them. Then set procurement goals based on either the number of silent auction items or the dollar value of donations acquired. You can set goals and allocate prizes for individuals or for the entire procurement team, depending on your preference. For more incentive ideas, check out this article:

review-the-ask4. Review "The Ask" with your committee 

Preparing your team to approach potential donors and ask for contributions will largely affect how many time they hear the word "yes". Tell them not to be shy! Volunteers especially have a hard time asking for donations because they don't want to seem to forward or a nuisance. Review with your team the 8 Tips of an Effective Ask so they know what to ask for and how to overcome common objections. For more see:


Free eBook: An Introduction to Procuring Quality Charity Auction Items

5. Secure auction items early!

promote-auction-items-early-with-emailWant your event to sell out? The key is pre-event promotion that starts early and hits your potential audience often, with tantalizing offers that build excitement and drive ticket sales. By gathering some of your big-ticket items now (such as unique Winspire travel packages, which can be reserved months in advance with no-risk to your nonprofit), you have something interesting and powerful to communicate about your event. You can begin prepping promotional materials and email campaigns that incorporate some of the fabulous auction items and raffle prizes you've already secured.

→ Click here for an example email campaign. 

For more on this, check out these other articles: 

6. Establish a theme

Establishing a theme early in the event planning process will help you and your committee come up with unique ideas for auction items and focus your procurement efforts on the items that would be ideal for your audience.

Consider reserving a unique Winspire Experience on and use it to support your theme. This will add credibility and contribute to that special "Wow!" factor that helps boost ticket sales for your event.

For example...


Secret Garden

Private Napa Estate

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Under The Sea

SeaWorld San Diego

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The EMMY Awards

View Details →

Speak to an Expert

Donor-Surveys-to-Boost-Fundraising-Revenue7. Survey past guests

Consider a brief survey of past attendees to determine what auction items they did and did not like. There are plenty of free survey tools out there, such as SurveyMonkey which we use here at Winspire. Online surveys are a quick and easy way to gather feedback and learn more about what your guests want to see at the event. The information you receive can be used to develop everything from the event venue to the items you include in your live and silent auctions. For more on this see:

Procurement-Packet8. Revise your procurement documents

Your auction committee will be far more effective asking for item donations if they are armed with professional documents. Take a fresh look at your procurement letter, donation form and other documents to see if they need any revising. Think about other printable assets that would be useful for your procurement team, such as brochures, pamphlets, fact sheets or event fliers with more information about your event and nonprofit mission. For more see:


Do you have any tips for your fellow charity event coordinators? We want to hear them! Leave a comment below and tell us what has worked well for you in terms of securing auction items and boosting attendance at your event!


Auction Catalog Templates

Event Production, Nonprofit Survey
Ian Lauth
Ian Lauth
With an extensive background in marketing development and content design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue. Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content, newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals.

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