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Change Your Story About Money

Sometimes fundraising is all about how you frame your mind around your day-to-day transactions. This sentiment really hit home today in a post by best selling author and entrepreneur Seth Godin, who reminds us about the ephemeral nature of money. It is a great and simple way to think about fundraising events and fundraiser auction items: Your story about money Is a story. About money. Money isn't real. It's a method of exchange, a unit we exchange for something we actually need or value. It has worth because we agree it has worth, because we agree what it can be exchanged for. But there's something far more powerful going on here. We don't actually agree, because each person's valuation of money is based on the stories we tell ourselves about it. Our bank balance is merely a number, bits represented on a screen, but it's also a signal and symptom. We tell ourselves a story about how we got that money, what it says about us, what we're going to do with it and how other people judge us. We tell ourselves a story about how that might grow, and more vividly, how that money might disappear or shrink or be taken away. And those stories, those very powerful unstated stories, impact the narrative of just about everything else we do. So yes, there's money. But before there's money, there's a story. It turns out that once you change the story, the money changes too. Source: This post is great because it makes you think twice about your relationship with your donors, their money and what it means to be a fundraising professional. Fundraising is a tough job. In many ways it is about raising money. But why? What is the bigger story here? Are you chasing a cause, or is it something bigger? The narrative you choose is entirely up to you.

  • 3 min read
  • Mar 26, 2014 2:21:00 PM

Learn To Incorporate a Special Appeal Into Your Charity Auction Ideas

While live and silent auctions are great ways to get donors to spend money at an event, it's a good idea to incorporate multiple tactics to get your entire audience involved. One popular method is to include a special appeal after your charity auction.  What is a Special Appeal? Special appeals, which can go by other names such as “Fund-A-Need”, are commonly used to complement fundraising auctions because they offer attendees who didn't win any charity auction items an opportunity to participate and give.

  • 4 min read
  • Mar 25, 2014 12:23:00 PM

Winning Bidder Feedback: Behind-the-Scenes at the U.S. Capitol

We are always receiving great feedback from the thousands of winning bidders we send on unique Experiences each year. Sometimes we get some good stories that we just can't help but share. Following is a testimonial from a winning bidders Gretchen and David who won the Private Historian's Tour of the U.S. Capitol in an online auction last December.

  • 4 min read
  • Mar 21, 2014 10:30:00 AM

Top 4 Silent Auction Problems and How to Solve Them Like a Pro

Holding a silent auction is a great way to raise money, but with any event there’s bound to be a hiccup or two. By understanding the most common silent auction problems now, you can take proactive steps to avoid them in the future and resolve any issues quickly if they arise during your event. Problem #1: Cluttered tables Solution: No one wants to feel cramped or rushed when they are considering a bid or making a purchase, especially if they're spending upwards of $500-1,000 on an item. Make sure there is enough space at the table for people to move freely between items and easily review the display along with other guests.  A good rule of thumb is to leave 6-12 inches of space between items on the silent auction tables. If you’re short on space, consider expanding your silent auction area or packaging items together so you have fewer to display. Fill your tables with unique, valuable auction items that attract high bidding. Click below to download a list of over 400 ideas to jumpstart your procurement brainstorming. Problem #2: Illegible bids Solution: Everyone’s handwriting is different, and it isn’t always easy to read. Trying to decrypt the names and bids that people write down can be frustrating and time-consuming. Luckily there are a few easy solutions to consider: Fixed bid amounts: Instead of letting guests write in their own bids, have fixed bid amounts already filled out on the bid sheet. This will eliminate any confusion about what number a person wrote and will also ensure that bids increase according to the minimum bid amount. Assign Bidder ID#'s: As guests register for the event, use a system that assigns a bid number to each attendee. Then, on your bid sheets, include an extra column for guests to write their “Bidder ID#” to help you further identify guests who bid. This is also great if you’re looking to add some anonymity to the bidding process since guests can use their unique bidder number in place of their name.

  • 7 min read
  • Mar 20, 2014 12:28:00 PM

Bid Sheets 101: Improve Your Silent Auction With Better Bid Sheets

When browsing your silent auction tables, the accompanying bid sheet can have a great deal of influence over a donor’s decision to place a bid. Are your sheets easy to use? Do they clearly list pertinent information and encourage quick, anonymous participation?

  • 6 min read
  • Mar 18, 2014 1:29:00 PM

The 6 Most Important Volunteer Duties for your Auction Day Team

On the day of your fundraising auction, it’s important for you to mingle and network with your guests so you can establish and nurture relationships with donors. This means that you will need volunteers to act as your “auction day team” to help your event run smoothly. Every auction event is different, but typical duties you will want help with include: 1. Registration: If you’re using a computer-based system for guest registration and auction check out, then be sure to find volunteers with good computer skills. Although you will be training volunteers, it’s better if they can learn and understand the software quickly.  Don’t hesitate to be a little picky about who you put up front at the registration table. They are your guests’ first impression of the event as they walk through the door, so encourage your volunteers to be warm and welcoming and greet new arrivals with a smile! Event check-in can also get overwhelming at times with lots of people showing up at once, so make sure you select volunteers who can handle themselves and know how to interact with large groups. 2. Handling Money: Whoever is working as cashier and is handling the money for the night should be someone you know well and preferably a member of the organization. 3. Floaters: Select a few volunteers to act as table monitors who watch over the bidding process and help answer any questions donors might have. They can also keep an eye on smaller items that can easily be stolen as well as pick up the bid sheets once a section has been closed out. Floaters are particularly important during auctions using mobile bidding. Donors who are new to mobile bidding technology often have questions or need direction using the software properly. Make sure these volunteers are tech-savvy, well trained and familiar with the technology so they can address any issues that arise and keep your donors bidding!

  • 7 min read
  • Mar 14, 2014 12:40:00 PM

Wine Enthusiasts Rejoice at Benziger Family Winery

Wine lovers everywhere know that to find the best wineries with award winning varietals – you simply have to head to the West Coast to explore the beauty and rich history of northern California’s wine country. With stunning views, scrumptious food and, of course, divine wines, a trip to Sonoma is good for your mind, body and soul. With the Vintner Adventure in Sonoma, guests experience VIP tours at two of Sonoma’s most prestigious wineries, chauffeured service in a luxury sedan and four nights’ luxury accommodations. One of the highlights of this travel adventure is a private VIP tour and tasting for two at Benziger Family Winery. Started in the late 70’s, the Benzigers have been growing grapes together as a family for more than 30 years. In the mid 90’s, the family transitioned to incorporate Biodynamic farming practices into their vineyards. This ultra-organic, holistic approach has resulted in a distinctive authenticity in their wine that is recognized by wine enthusiasts from around the world. Kathy Benziger, VIP hospitality with Benziger Family Winery, loves giving guests private tours that allow them to see the winery from an owner’s perspective. Use this in your next Charity Auction! Vintner Adventure in Sonoma View Experience Details → “We take people out in the vineyard and teach them about biodynamic farming and how the farming practices lead to quality in the wine,” says Benziger. She explains that biodynamic is the ‘Rolls Royce’ of organic farming. “Organic farming replaces chemicals with organic input; biodynamic replaces all input with insects, plants and animals. So you use relationships with nature that are already there to begin with, and that really creates wines that are more expressive, exciting and fun.”

  • 5 min read
  • Mar 13, 2014 12:46:00 PM

The 4 Phase "Arc" of a Fundraising Auction Event

Most auctions can be broken down into four general phases, or what we like to call “the arc” of the event. As you hit each phase of the arc, it is helpful to have an overall goal in mind along with specific tasks you want to accomplish to keep you and your team focused and on track. Following are the four phases... Donation Procurement The first phase can have a huge impact on the success of your event as it sets the foundation for the phases that follow. During this phase, you should: Build your procurement team Brainstorm auction ideas Create a procurement plan Acquire donations Your overall goal should be to acquire unique, exciting auction items that will encourage bidding. For the live auction, be sure to include big-ticket items that will help boost fundraising efforts. If you’re hosting a silent auction, try to acquire as many physical items as possible. Even simple items that may seem pointless to collect at first can be useful later, especially when you are trying to bolster the presentation of items like gift certificates that don’t show well on their own. Event Preparation As you reach the second point on the arc, your procurement committee should be done acquiring items so you can begin preparing for the event. This phase includes: Bundling items into packages Creating printed materials such as the auction program guide, bid sheets and signage Staging auction items The end result of this phase is to have all your items set up completely and in such a way that will encourage bidding from your guests. Be sure not to overcrowd tables with too many auction items and leave enough space between them so bidders can move around easily. When setting up the auction room on the day of the event, start early so you aren’t scrambling moments before the event starts.

  • 5 min read
  • Mar 11, 2014 12:20:00 PM

The 16 Most Fascinating Nonprofit Statistics We Could Find [INFOGRAPHIC]

Click Here to view infographic → Statistics are wonderful. They are a great way to identify trends and get an overall sense of how things are going in a particular industry. When it comes to the Nonprofit sector, it's important to stay on top of trends that could ultimately contribute to your organization's bottom line. Whether it's identifying Nonprofits Communication Trends for 2014 or understanding the growing mobile fundraising movement, statistics can help you anticipate the future needs for your Nonprofit. For this reason, we were happy to stumble on a great Slideshare presentation from Steve MacLaughlin, Director of the Idea Lab at Blackbaud, who gathered 50 facts about Nonprofits in the United States today. We looked through and compiled what we thought were 16 of the most interesting facts about the Nonprofit Industry and put them in the following infographic. Enjoy!

  • 3 min read
  • Mar 7, 2014 11:27:00 AM

How Many Auction Items Should I Put in my Fundraising Event?

When hosting a live or silent auction, one of the biggest mistakes a Nonprofit can make is presenting too many auction items during the event. You may think having more items means raising more money, but the reality is presenting too many elements all at once can actually overwhelm an audience. When it comes to charity auction items: Quality is always more important than quantity. If you’re hosting a live or silent auction fundraiser this year, keep these considerations in mind when choosing how many items to offer your guests.  Size of audience How many people will be attending your event? A good rule of thumb is to divide your guest list in half to get a more accurate estimate of the number of attendees who will actually participate in the auction. By splitting your guest list down the middle, you are factoring in the tendency for couples to bid together and establishing a more realistic number of donors with the actual spending power to buy big and help you reach your fundraising goal. That’s not to say that you should have exactly one item for every two people at your event, but this gives you a better starting point for determining the scope of your auction item offering. Size of venue Overcrowding your event space will make browsing and shopping difficult and overwhelming. If you are working with limited space, it is better to cut back or be more aggressive about bundling auction items instead of trying to stuff everything on to a few tables.

  • 4 min read
  • Mar 6, 2014 12:01:00 PM

How to Bundle Smaller Donations to Create Extraordinary Auction Items

When you’re faced with too many items for your silent auction event, a smart way to slim down the number of items and maximize revenue is to incorporate bundling into your strategy. Bundling is taking smaller items and grouping them together into larger packages. This can have a positive impact on your auction for 3 reasons: Increase the value of simple items Attract attention to smaller items Reduce clutter of too many items Some no-risk auction items simply lack the appeal that others have. Examples include simple items like gift certificates, inexpensive wine, gas cards, apparel or toys. With bundling, you can take these seemingly “basic” items and make them more interesting to your guests by grouping them with others. EXAMPLE: Ultmate Date Night Bundle For example, a $125 dinner certificate on it's own won't fetch many bids - usually you'll be lucky to get more than $50 for it. Instead, try bundling it together with some other inexpensive items to create the "Ultimate Date Night" package: $125 Dinner Certificate 2 Bottles of wine with glasses 3 Dominos Pizza certificates Coupon for 4 hours of babysitting As you can see, each of these items displayed individually wouldn't go for much. By presenting them together and marketing the bundle as a complete package, you are creating a higher perceived value for your bidders. This translates to more interest, more bids and more money for your cause.

  • 6 min read
  • Mar 4, 2014 11:17:00 AM

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