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One of the hardest things to do when you’re planning an auction is to procure those hot items you know your audience wants—items so unique they can’t be found anywhere else. If you’re lucky, you already have an established group of donors who, year after year, give you exactly what you’re looking for. Yet the majority of nonprofits struggle with getting beyond the most basic donations, such as spa gift certificates and vacation homes. If your procurement committee is short on time and/or resources, you may want to consider utilizing a vendor for procurement services. Professional auctioneers and event planners often provide these services for a fee. They’ll be able to provide “insider expertise,” because they attend many different auctions throughout the year and see which items are top sellers. They’ll also be able to give you a realistic estimate of the revenue your projected items will bring at auction. If you’re working on procurement with a professional auctioneer or event planner, ask them to advise you regarding these procurement-related topics: item wish lists, procurement pitfalls, merchants to target, dividing items between the silent and live auctions, procurement strategies, and appraising item value. If they have connections to consignors, procurement vendors and reputable donors, ask them to provide you with their contact list or a referral.