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Charity auction items are the bedrock of a successful fundraising event. They offer a fun and engaging way for guests to interact, spend money for a good cause and even take something special home at the end of the night. All too often, however, auction items at Nonprofit fundraising events garner too few bids, don't raise much money and generally aren't worth the amount of time it took to procure them. So what gives? Usually it comes down to a few easy-to-rectify mistakes that can kill the earning potential of the auctions items you spent months procuring. Generate record fundraising numbers at your next charity auction by avoiding these five mistakes: Mistake #1: Ignoring audience interests Items up for auction must appeal to the people attending the event. That's why understanding audience interests before you start procuring items is key. For example, if you know you have a lot of foodies and wine enthusiasts on your guest list, tailor your auction items to include culinary workshops, dining packages or travel experience to wine country. For music gurus, tickets to the local concert hall or an auction package to a nationally televised awards show will draw big interest. Use the knowledge of audience interests to your advantage so you can procure items and select experiences that will inspire fierce bidding. -- For more read: 3 Ways to Procure Auction Items Based on Donor Interests Mistake #2: Lack of advertising Unveiling everything on the day of the event might seem like it would create a nice surprise factor, but this strategy often backfires. If you have amazing auction packages for this year's event, advertise them early on! This builds excitement prior to the event and lets attendees gauge their interest before they even enter the building. When you get people coming to the event already knowing they are going to bid for a particular item, you're positioned for a very active and successful auction. -- For more read: 5 Tips for Using Auction Items to Generate Buzz For Your Event
In a perfect world, auction committees would have no problem getting unique and exciting charity auction items donated for their fundraising events. Anyone who has served on a charity auction committee knows this is rarely the case. Securing a variety of exciting items purely by donation is much easier said than done. Making a ton of calls, sending out hundreds of emails and pulling favors may produce a handful of adequate items, but all too often the resulting selection of auction items is missing those jaw-dropping items that really get crowds excited about bidding during an event. At the end of the day, what's most important is raising significant funds for your organization - and most patrons understand that there are costs associated with fundraising. This is why consignment is a secret weapon for the charity auction committee. The process is simple: reserve a unique item or incredible experience at no cost upfront and then offer it to your audience in the live or silent auction. If it sells above the package cost – great! You’ve raised money and delighted your donors in the process. If the item doesn’t sell above the package cost, no problem! Your organization pays nothing, making it an entirely risk-free proposition. Pretty simple, right? Well, not everyone agrees. Our Event Consultants speak to thousands of Nonprofits about their events each year and they sometimes hear comments like: “No consignment… Sorry, we only use 100% donated items… We’re pretty sure we can get something like that donated.” Some organizations are not comfortable with consignment items because they are worried that not all the money donors pay is going to the cause. Others feel like they are losing money when they have to pay for auction items they could otherwise potentially get donated. It’s these misconceptions about consignment items that may be costing Nonprofits thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Here are four reasons why it makes sense to invest in better auction items: 1. Takes Money to Make Money Anyone who has been in charge of planning a fundraiser auction items event understands there are costs associated with raising money, and when planned strategically those investments can really pay off. An event's logistics alone add up, and most development teams realize that investment is necessary to attract interest, sell tickets and create an enjoyable atmosphere for attendees that will encourage donations. Advertising, catering, entertainment, venue rental, etc. – all of these costs are incurred in hopes of producing dividends in the form of bids and donations. Investing in valuable big-ticket auction items serves the same purpose. 2. Atmosphere of Big Spending Hosting an event with quality auction items creates an atmosphere of spending that will translate into bigger bids on other items. Just like an amazing venue and an entertaining emcee will hopefully drive more bids during the live auction – so will the excitement of bidding on an incredible travel experience. It's not your basic gift certificate or dinner at a local restaurant, it's something that will really get people pumped up. When people are excited and have high-end items to bid on, the bids will be higher and happen more often.
Time is money, right? While this likely means something different to each of us, one thing’s for sure: at some point, we question the value of our time. Do you hire a gardener rather than spending half of the weekend doing your own yard work? The answer depends on how much you like getting your hands dirty, whether you have better things to do with your time and if you can afford to pay someone else to do it for you. At work, you have to make similar choices. You have a long list of things to do to make sure your upcoming fundraising event is a success. Where should you focus your efforts? What are the most critical tasks? What do you do best? What could you use help with? And most importantly, how is your time best spent so you get “the most bang for your buck”? Arguably one of the most arduous tasks of planning an event fundraiser is procuring items for your live and silent auctions. The more exciting and valuable items you have in your auction, the more money you will make. Of course, these big ticket items are more difficult to procure: Therein lies the challenge. According to a report published in 2013 by the Corporation for National and Community Service, it is estimated that 64.5 million Americans, or one in four adults, gave 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service in 2012. Of those nearly 8 billion hours of volunteering, the top activities included: Fundraising or selling items to raise money (25.7%); Collecting, preparing, distributing, or serving food (23.8%) Engaging in general labor or transportation (19.8%) Tutoring or teaching (17.9%) While having highly desirable charity auction items at your fundriasing event is a necessity, spending countless hours is not. There you have it. Event fundraising is at the top of the list and equates to over 2 billion volunteer hours spent annually developing auction events and soliciting donors. How much time do you spend? Perhaps you are the Development Director and have a committee of 5-10 volunteers who work on charity auction item procurement. Or maybe you are a “committee of one” and do all of the work yourself. In a recent Winspire survey of Nonprofits, more than 45% of respondents reported spending between 150 and 500 hours procuring and fulfilling auction items. Hard to imagine? Think of it this way: you have 5 people on your committee and you each spend 10 hours a week for 5 weeks leading up to your event – that’s a total of 250 hours right there!
Setting the minimum starting bid at a low, fair price can help your Nonprofit raise more money per item. Here are some guidelines for setting a minimum bid that will attract and encourage more donors to participate at your next charity auction.