A big part of successful charity auctions is strategically leveraging the auction items themselves.
Successful charity auctions require high quality auction items. Step one: assembling your procurement team.
Like any legendary group of heroes - think Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Super Friends - your committee is faced with a seemingly insurmountable task. To succeed, you'll need driven, creative people who demonstrate tenacity and come from all different backgrounds. Most importantly, they must be willing to step up for your cause when it counts.
If you've ever been involved with a charity silent auction, you know gift baskets are a given. They can range anywhere from $50 to $500 in value, depending on the quality and exclusivity of the items, and are popular for a few reasons:
- The contents are relatively simple to procure. It may be less intimidating for new donors, smaller businesses and individuals to sponsor part of an auction item or a basket rather than the big-ticket items in a live auction. (Of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't ask!)
Whether your fundraising event is in one week, one month or one year, chances are your charity auction could benefit from a few more unique, valuable items.
Are you getting items that will "wow" donors, sell tickets and ultimately generate the bids needed to meet your revenue goals?
If not - how can you equip your procurement committee with the necessary tools for success?
You know wine is a tried-and-true staple of charity auctions. Cases of custom-labeled or vintage wine, trips to Napa Valley, winery tours and more have always been magnets for bids.
Now another drink has caught the attention of fundraisers: craft beer.
As mentioned in our recent webinar "Ask a Professional Benefit Auctioneer!", auctioneers around the country have recently noted a huge spike in interest in ales. At a 2016 meeting of the National Auctioneers Association, they concluded craft beer is one of the hottest items being sold in fundraising events today.
How can your organization take advantage of the trend?
Combine craft beer with experiential travel, a consistent top-seller at charity auctions. "Beercations" offering unique tours and tastings, plus deluxe accomodations and travel arrangements, make for one standout auction item.
In the spirit of Oktoberfest, hoist a stein and read on for highlights of Winspire's best lager-loving travel packages, including a brand-new update to the Samuel Adams Boston Experience. (Like all Winspire Experiences, these no-risk trips cost nothing upfront to include in a fundraiser - your nonprofit only pays for the items that sell!)
Then, enjoy a delicious beer chili recipe perfect for brisk fall days.
West Coast: San Diego Craft Brewing Scene
VIP Brewery Excursion, Chauffeur, Manchester Grand Hyatt 3-Night Stay with Airfare for 2 (3450-2)
Did you know sunny San Diego is considered the "Craft Beer Capital of America"? Local breweries like Stone Brewing Co., AleSmith Brewing Company and Ballast Point (pictured above) are consistently rated among the top breweries in the world. The Great American Beer Festival’s “Best Small Brewer” Award has gone to San Diego County brewers multiples times, including 2014’s winner, Coronado Brewing Company.
With more than 100 local breweries, microbreweries and pubs in the city, beer enthusiasts are flocking to get a taste of these highly acclaimed hops.
Imagine sending your donors on a 5-hour, VIP custom excursion at 3-4 breweries of their choice.
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.
A good old-fashioned brainstorm session is a great way to get the ball rolling to come up with ideas for unique no-risk auction items, although it’s important to take a second look at the list before your team begins the process of procuring these items.
After holding a brainstorming session with your auction committee, your next step is to organize the long list of auction item ideas, adding or eliminating items as needed. Here’s how to make this process as effective as possible.
1. Organize your list into categories
It’s unlikely that your audience will share all of the same interests and hobbies. That’s why it is important to offer a varied selection of items at your fundraising auction. When organizing your list, separate ideas into four different categories:
- Physical Items
- Unique Experiences
Separating the list into these categories will help you ensure you have a wide variety and also identify the areas where you’re lacking items.
Building a solid auction item procurement committee isn’t just a matter of selecting the first people who volunteer. The individuals who make up your procurement team can have a huge impact on the items you secure for the big event, which in turn will impact how much money your event raises.
Don't be afraid to be selective. An auction committee with too many people can quickly become unmanageable. While it's important to give all interested parties a chance to help your cause, not everyone is cut out for auction item procurement. Make sure you have a list of other jobs you can assign eager volunteers who want to contribute.
Following are the five things to look for in an effective procurement committee member:
Even with the best intentions, people can get sidetracked if they are dealing with a busy schedule. Let potential team members know upfront the amount of time and dedication that is required. Although you can never be sure whether members will stay true to their word, you can at least get a better idea of how much free time they have, and whether or not they will actually be available to help.
A great way to increase your chances for fundraising success is by procuring auction items with donors' interests in mind. You’ve spent time cultivating donors, establishing positive donor relations, and learning as much information as you can about your supporters – so why not use that information to your advantage for auction item procurement?
There are a number of 'donor cues' you can use to match items to your audience. Here are three you’ll want to consider:
1. Hobbies/Interests – What do your donors like to do in their spare time? Ask questions of your donors and find out what they enjoy, and then cater your offerings to them!
Procuring auction items isn't an exact science. How are you supposed to know you’ve made the right decisions and secured the right items? While there's no guarantee that certain auction items will be a hit at your event, you can significantly increase your chance for success and improve donor relations at the same time by avoiding these top three auction procurement mistakes:
1. Procuring auction items without researching donors: The donated auction items you’ve secured for the big night may seem exciting and interesting to you, so that means donors will want to bid, right? Well, not necessarily. Don’t assume that your donors have the same interests, hobbies and budgets as you.
Spend time researching and getting to know your donors instead. Important demographic information such as careers, age, interests, income and family status can help you pick auction items that attendees will find exciting and want to bid on.