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

Sharon Ruback

Sharon Ruback

Having been a member of the Winspire team since its inception, Sharon enjoys working with hospitality and travel partners to expand and enhance Winspire's portfolio of experiences. A self-proclaimed armchair traveler, she focuses on developing trips and experiences that will bring a "wow" factor to charity fundraising events. The better the experiences she puts together, the more money Nonprofits can raise. With 200+ packages -- and more in the work -- the possibilities are endless, which makes coming into work everyday a real adventure.

Recent Posts:

Experience Spotlight: Wimbledon Tennis Championship

What started in 1877 as the Lawn Tennis Championship, at what was then known as the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis, has become the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world.  Known today simply as “Wimbledon”, this spectacular event is the only Grand Slam still played on grass. All eyes were on Serena Williams earlier this month as she entered Wimbledon as the overwhelming favorite to win a fourth straight major tennis title. She did that, in her usual impressive fashion. She bested her sister, Venus Williams, narrowly avoided an upset at the hands of unseeded Heather Watson, took down the tough Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals and absolutely dominated No. 4 seed Maria Sharapova in the semifinals. In the finals, Williams defeated Spanish rising star Garbine Muguruza in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4. Williams, 33, wins her 21st Grand Slam title and becomes the oldest female winner of a major. Williams has now won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in 2015. Only the U.S. Open remains. She’s looking to become the first person to win a calendar Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988.

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

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…

Hyatt Now Offering Unlimited Free WiFi at All Properties

Travelers around the world are doing the happy dance… if they’re staying at a Hyatt Hotel or Resort, that is.  As of mid February, guests enjoy free Wi-Fi on an unlimited number of devices in guest rooms and social spaces.

Travel Weekly's Top Destinations of 2014

Late last month, Travel Weekly revealed its list of 2014 Readers Choice Award winners. More than 9,000 industry voters, including Travel Weekly readers and industry professionals, selected the best airlines, destinations, hotels, cruise lines and theme parks. Las Vegas topped the list as the Best U.S. City, while Hawaii was selected as the #1 state to visit. 

Bon Appetite! Boost your Fundraising Efforts with Culinary Experiences

You may not even know it, but chances are, you are a foodie. Are you hooked on the current season of Top Chef? Have you waited in line for the local gourmet food truck to serve up its specialty? Foodies come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the casual enthusiast to gourmet connoisseur.

Which Auction Packages Should I Pick For My Fundraiser?

You already know donors take vacations. Why not present them with the opportunity to purchase their next trip at your event while supporting your organization? The key is, if you want patrons to bid on trips, they have to be exceptional! Today we put it all together and discuss how to make trips work for you at your next fundraising event. Too good to be true? You be the judge...

Blast Off with the Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Adventure

Have you ever considered what it would be like to travel through space? The wonder of space captures the curiosity of many, which makes Experiences like the Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Adventure a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Among the many activities included in the package - such as having lunch with an astronaut  - one that stands out many to visitors is the chance to view NASA’s Space Shuttle Atlantis up close and personal in the new Kennedy Space Center interactive exhibit.  The Space Shuttle Atlantis played an important role in NASA’s 30-year Space Shuttle Program, which began in 1981 and ended in 2011 when Atlantis launched for the program’s final flight. Throughout the 30-year period, Atlantis spent a great deal of time in space travelling 126 million miles during a total of 33 missions. Use this Experience at your next event! Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Adventure View Experience Details → Now that the Space Shuttle Program is complete, eager viewers have the opportunity to witness Atlantis in the very place where the orbiters launched for each mission: the Kennedy Space Center. The new 90,000 square-foot exhibition opened in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in June 2013 and has been strategically set up to enhance the experience for guests. With more than 60 interactive exhibits and simulators, as well as multimedia presentations, the Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit sheds light on the important achievements made by the Space Shuttle Program.

Millennial Travelers Will Soon Surpass Other Generations in Overall Spending [INFOGRAPHIC]

In the travel and hospitality industry, all eyes are on the Millennial generation. Often referred to as Generation Y, this demographic includes people born between 1980 and the late 90's.  Why has this generation grabbed the attention of hotels, airlines and travel companies? It is expected that Millennials will soon surpass other generations in overall spending. They will become the core customers of the travel industry within five to ten years.  Expect to see major changes in the travel industry to cater to the needs and desires of this important market segment. How do hotels woo Millennials? It’s a question being looked at by brands that want to reach the young, creative class of tech-toting, oversharing individuals. According to a recent report in Conde Nast Traveler, a number of hotel chains are getting in the game, opening chic new properties in Europe and the U.S.; even Sir Richard Branson is branching out with the launch later this year of Virgin Hotels. Says Conde Nast Traveler, “Virgin America rocked our world when they came onto the airline scene with leather seats, purple ambient lighting a kick-a$$ in-flight entertainment system, and in-flight WiFi. We’re hoping the same world-rocking will happen with Virgin Hotels, set to make its debut in Chicago in September (CEO Richard Branson also just announced a NYC hotel will open in 2016). What we know about the Chicago property tells us it’s all about communal spaces, including a theater, classroom, yoga/relaxation area, and a coffee and wine bar.” Here are a few trends common among these young travelers: 

How to Create Exceptional Charity Auction Travel Packages

In the last post (“Why Auction Trips Make Sense”), we presented some compelling evidence showing that people who attend charity events like to travel. By offering great travel packages at your event, you can tap into your guests' vacation budgets, providing them with the opportunity to buy trips while supporting your organization. So how do you go about getting your hands on exciting vacation travel packages to use as part of your fundraising event?

Why Auction Trips Make Sense (and lots of $$$!)

As your fundraising event attendees are getting dressed for the big night out, they may give some thought as to how much money they will spend on raffle tickets or what they might buy at your live or silent auction. While people may come with a specific dollar figure in mind, they will often spend above and beyond depending on what opportunities are presented at the event. Whether it’s offering an auction trip to an all-inclusive resort, selling raffle tickets for a piece of signed sports memorabilia or delivering a heartfelt special appeal from a beneficiary of your mission, there are plenty of ways to entice your guests to contribute more money during an event.

Hop Aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train

Considered to be one of the top wine producing regions in the world, it’s easy to understand why Napa Valley is such a popular vacation spot. Every year, nearly 4.7 million wine lovers travel to Napa Valley to enjoy the beautiful scenery and get a taste of the region’s superior, high quality wine. Those seeking a quintessential California wine country experience will be delighted with a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Winspire #1 Best Seller! Use this in your next Auction Fundraiser! Napa Valley Backroads & Railways View Experience Details → Offering delicious wine, a gourmet meal, stunning views and a fascinating history, a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train is one of the best ways to experience this pristine area. The 3-hour train ride transports passengers in a meticulously restored 1915-1917 Pullman Dining Car, where guests can sit back, relax and take in everything Napa Valley has to offer.  Andrea Guzman, Promotions and Partnership Manager for Napa Valley Wine Train, says “Guests feel like they are going back in time," describing the elegance of the vintage rail cars as one of the things visitors love most about the Wine Train. This is not surprising, considering the train’s history. The train was built in the 1860s with the sole purpose of taking visitors to the popular resort town of Calistoga. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Napa Valley Railroad continued to play an important role in the region’s development and became a popular form of transportation for those living in the Valley.

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