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Top 5 Reasons Nonprofits Steer Clear of Consignment Travel

Posted by Summy Lau


When it comes to procuring auction items, we always encourage nonprofits to think outside the box. After all, your donors are sophisticated philanthropists who attend multiple fundraisers each year, and unique items like travel Experiences keep your event fresh, relevant and interesting.

The catch: These items are among the most challenging to get donated.

Consignment travel packages help bridge the gap between travel's popularity and its difficulty to procure. So why do some organizations hesitate to use it?

Here are the top 5 reasons nonprofits choose not to use consignment travel packages in their charity auctions.

1. "We're looking to raise money, not spend it."

Imagine you've just walked into a store when you hear an announcement: "Our lucky 1,000th customer has just walked through the doors!" You look around and it's you: You've won a thousand dollars!

Would you accept the money?

No-risk consignment travel packages are like picking a $1,000 bill off the ground. It's a fundraising tool that either guarantees a profit or costs you nothing. Yet overhead (costs associated with fundraising and administration) is often the first objection nonprofits have when considering consignment.

consignement travel

Of course this is a valid concern. Nonprofits keep overhead to a minimum so they can make the most impact per dollar, and they're held to particular scrutiny when it comes to spending.

But overhead alone isn't a good indicator of a nonprofit or event's effectiveness. Instead, evaluate your return on investments.

Charity galas, auctions and tournaments are huge investments that require a great deal of time and resources to pull off, yet nonprofits continue turning to event fundraising for one simple reason: because they work.

Just like booking the right venue, catering tasty food and hiring a fun band are choices to improve your event, big-ticket auction items raise excitement, immediate revenue and the long-term perceived value of your event and organization.

In other words, it takes money to raise money—and then fulfill your mission.

2. "We could get those trips donated."

We want you to get everything you need for your auction donated. In fact, Winspire started off as an event and auction production company, so we know how difficult procurement can be. That's why we provide resources (like a free Procurement eBook, below) to help you and your committee procure donated items that are buzzworthy, valuable and unique.

Free eBook: Intro to Procuring Quality Charity Auction Items

It's true that donated travel allows the entire sale to go to your organization. The problem: getting these Experiences donated! The reality is, the items that typically generate the highest bids—think 4 nights at an all-inclusive resort, the Country Music Awards, the Kentucky Derby—are rarely donated.

Westin_Puntacana_Beach_small.pngBecause they're so tough to get donated, consignment trips are your best bet. Trip providers take on the difficulty, time and risk of putting together packages of the highest caliber.

However, of course you'd still like to capture 100% of the profits when you can.

Why not find donors to underwrite the cost of a Winspire package?

Ask potential underwriters to cover the costs of a travel package the same way you would for other event expenses like invitations, programs and catering, with even better and more persuasive incentives. Help them imagine covering the expenses of, say, an amazing New York Long Weekend...

This 3-night trip is the crown jewel in our live auction and a high point of the year's biggest fundraiser. The audience cheers and applauds as you're recognized by the auctioneer. Your gift encourages long-time donors Mr. and Mrs. Jones to enthusiastically bid, knowing all of the proceeds support a great cause. As the curtain rises at Phantom of the Opera, the sweet couple falls in love all over again. The next week, they come and thank you personally for the new memories.

Busy individuals and local businesses alike will appreciate how easy it is to underwrite. They'll get significant name recognition at your event without having to do any additional work.

For more tips and templates to get items underwritten, see:

Event Fundraiser Sponsorship Kit

3. "The trips seem too expensive for our donors. Whoever does buy a trip will spend less on other items."

We survey thousands of winning bidders each year, so we’ve discovered that your guests set aside big travel budgets each year. In fact, over 90% take 2 or more trips each year and 80% set aside $5,000 or more for their annual travel budget—and 40% set aside a whopping $15,000 or more!

consignment travel packages

Consignment travel packages help redirect donors' travel budgets to your cause, so it doesn't hurt to give donors the option to spend some of their travel budget at your event. Offering a trip brings money into the room that wouldn't have been there in the first place.

Plus, our surveys also show winning bidders of Winspire Experiences have a wide range of income levels (see above). Who doesn't love a good vacation?

While travel will likely be your auction's priciest tems, this actually works in your favor by preventing cannibalism of revenue from donated items. The reason: a higher price point naturally distinguishes prestigious items and gets donors reaching into their travel budgets rather than their philanthropic budgets.

4. "We could buy this cheaper elsewhere."

woman_rolling_dice.pngCan you get “a better deal” on certain similar trips online? It's possible. But the specials you find online are typically for a particular date or time period, and there’s really no way to offer those trips in your auction. Your donors are sophisticated buyers with busy calendars, and they don't want to be confined to certain dates or told when they can or can't travel.

What's more, the deal that’s there today may be gone tomorrow, which means you would have to take the risk of purchasing it up front...with no guarantee it will sell.

Winspire’s trips can be booked whenever the bidder wants to travel (based on availability), with minimal blackout dates that are clearly noted in our marketing materials. Our Experiences are easy to use in your auction and we handle the booking for your winning bidders, saving you time and money trying to coordinate or fulfill a trip.

Finally, many of our packages are highly sought-after "bucket list" items that don’t have an obvious market value. You’re not going to find a "deal" for a weekend at the Super Bowl, a "backstage tour" of the Capitol Building with a historian, or a VIP tasting and tour with a winemaker.

That's why these trips are considered Priceless.

5. "We'll be stuck with a trip if it doesn't sell."

This is a common misconception of consignment trips for charity auctions. With a no-risk travel provider like Winspire, you pay nothing upfront, and no transaction occurs until a package sells for the reserve price you set. So, if you reserve a package in your online suitcase, put it up for auction but it doesn’t sell or meet the reserve price, you don't have to buy it.

Did we leave out one of your consignment concerns? Share in the comments below, or contact one of our Fundraising Specialists today!

Winspire's Top 10 Best Selling Experiences

Travel Experiences, Auction Item Procurement, Consignment
Summy Lau
Summy Lau
As Fundraising Editor, Summy brings hands-on experience in nonprofit development, event fundraising, publishing, copywriting and design to Winspire News. She creates blog content, infographics, templates, eBooks and other resources to help fundraising professionals and volunteers exceed their fundraising goals. Her two favorite perks of working at Winspire: hearing nonprofit success stories and dreaming of new bucket list destinations.

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