Your destination for insight into the world of event fundraising and charity auctions.
When nonprofits have hosted the same event for years, it's common to reach a plateau. Wondering how you can break through a slump and once again generate record profits?
To call fundraising events complex would be an understatement. With so many moving parts and unknown variables, most nonprofits learn from past experience... which typically means sacrificing significant revenue right out of the gate. While no event is perfect, most common errors can be prevented. Why not learn from someone else's mistakes and close calls to raise a whole lot more for your cause?
When it comes to charity auctions, many organizers simply "don't know what they don't know." Unfortunately, a lack of professional expertise is the #1 reason events fall short of their revenue goals. To help provide the expertise needed for success, we interviewed Cheryl Parker, certified benefit auctioneer specialist in San Diego, Calif., for a recent episode of event fundraising podcast Events with Benefits. Parker shares her simple - yet often overlooked - strategies for generating as much revenue as possible at auction events.
English author Virginia Woolf once wrote, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." We believe the same is true for giving well. Many fundraising events revolve around food - think evening galas with multi-course meals; golf tournaments with buffet lunches; rotary auctions with brunch and more. Why? For one thing, donors need nourishment to make it through a 4 hour event. What's more, meals also provide the chance to sit down and socialize, celebrate your cause in community and provide an all-inclusive "fun night out" for couples and friends. A meal's execution can heavily impact donors' experience and overall success of the event, for better or worse. Check out practical tips for seamless food service in any event, including: Gala with Three Course Meal Buffet Small Bites & Sips "Dry" Lunchtime Auction You'll also learn a neat way to generate more income for your cause from serving dinner. If you plan to feed guests, you'll want to read and bookmark today's post! Scenario 1: Gala with Three Course Meal It's finally time for the annual charity ball or gala. Your guests have arrived dressed to the nines, eager for a fun evening. The energy is palpable. The more you can cater to guests' finer tastes, the more your auction event will come across as a luxury shopping spree - and the higher bids will go! Here are a few easy ways to help make your gala dinner a success. Consider conducting the live auction during dinner. Where you schedule the live auction can depend on your audience and other elements in the program, but let's first look at when not to have your live auction: late in the evening. Suppose you’ve opened the doors to your event at 5:30 for cocktails. An hour goes by. Now people are sitting for dinner at 7. There’s wine on the table, they’re having more drinks, then enjoying a big meal and decadent dessert. All the while, folks are looking at the silent auction tables and refreshing their drinks. Suddenly it's 9:30pm and time to start the live auction. How will you go about getting everyone seated and focused? There's a better way.
There are many different elements that can make up the program of a fundraising event: speeches, videos, saying grace, singing the national anthem, presenting awards, having a special entertainer and more. But the most important components are the fundraising centerpieces of the night: the fund-a-need, live auction and silent auction. With just a few hours to raise as much revenue as possible, it's imperative the auction timeline keep everyone's focus on fundraising. Indeed, a poorly planned agenda can sink an entire event.
To keep the focus on fundraising at your event, you want to employ fresh and exciting income streams. One that has generated plenty of interest in our webinars: the Wildcard Auction™. This is an entertaining, fast-paced revenue opportunity that can raise tens of thousands of dollars for your cause—without requiring any extra time or resources to procure items!
As the peak of summer winds down, fall fundraising season is fast approaching. That means it's almost time for many nonprofits' version of the "Super Bowl": the annual charity gala, auction, raffle, tournament and more. Imagine the doors are open, the ballroom is full, tickets have been sold, and the crowd is ready to support your cause—with bigger philanthropic wallets than anyone ever estimates. You've only got 4 or 5 hours to capture all that money for your cause before it walks out the room at the end of the night. Time is not your friend, and you don't want to waste any of it. Where should the money come from during your fundraising event? Everyone knows the most popular income streams: the live auction, silent auction, cash appeals. In fact there are many different income streams to consider: In this revenue-generating tree, the leaves represent the money you're trying to raise for your cause. Each root and tendril represents a different potential income stream that could be pulled up during your charity fundraiser. Bottom line: Profits don't just happen.
Question: What do you think is the ideal number of items for a typical live auction? 6, 8, 15 or more? We asked this in our last webinar and got a wide variety of responses: The correct answer is indeed 8 to 12 items. Here's why: No matter how entertaining or engaging your auctioneer may be, people will only listen to his or her banter ("25, 25, 5, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, holding at 45...") for so long. Once the crowd starts tuning out the auction, control of the room can be lost very quickly to table chatter and mingling—and the rest of the night's event revenue is in serious trouble. Simply put, the amount of money you make in a live auction drops off the more items you have in your auction. Now, let's say you have too many items. We have nonprofits that go above and beyond the call of auction acquisition duty and end up procuring 20, 25, even 30 items that would be suitable for live auction. What then? And what if you've procured too few? Read on for 4 useful solutions to common live auction problems. Problem 1: Too many items "Did you say 8 to 12 live auction items? We have 25! What should we do with our extra items?" Good news: Having more than 12 high-quality items that would be appropriate for a live auction is no problem at all!
Picture this: Your procurement team has done an amazing job getting valuable items donated, reserved or underwritten for the live and silent auctions. You have 7 to 12 standout items ready for the live auction, including a catered dinner party at a donor's home, a flat-screen TV, sold-out concert tickets and a 5-night culinary excursion to Tuscany.
Nonprofits that host charity fundraising events have very different goals than those who attend. On one side of the fence, guests want to be entertained and have fun. On the other, nonprofits urgently need to raise money to support their mission. To the rescue: the 3 E's of a successful fundraising event, as coined by fundraising auctioneer Danny Hooper—Entertain, Engage and Extract. These 3 simple principles allow your event to reach its full revenue potential. (For more, check out "The "3 E's" that Bridge the Gap Between Fun and Fundraising.")
Between procuring donated items, tracking logistics, securing sponsorhips, promoting ticket sales and more, we all know charity auction events are a lot of work. So why do we still hold them? Nearly all nonprofits would likely say it's because their organization or cause needs the money. However, research by the National Auctioneers' Association reveals the #1 reason 93% of attendees choose to buy a ticket is not to support your cause, but to HAVE FUN! On one hand, nonprofits need to make money. On the other hand, guests want to have a good time. How do we bridge that gap? Enter the "3 E's" of hosting a fundraiser that's both fun and profitable, as coined by benefit auctioneer Danny Hooper: 1. Entertain 2. Engage 3. Extract You may spend up to 12 months meticulously planning a lavish event that runs seamlessly... but without all 3 components working together, the night cannot meet its full revenue potential. Read on for more on the 3 E's and practical ways to incorporate these fundamentals in your next fundraiser.