Your destination for insight into the world of event fundraising and charity auctions.
If your organization hosts a spring or summer fundraising event, we hope you're getting more and more excited as the day approaches, donations roll in and plans begin falling into place. But we know for many, the planning period is very stressful. Today, we want to address reader questions like, "How do I refresh my 14 year event?"..."Our auction used to pull in five times what we got last year. What can we do?"..."Is it time to give up and move on to another type of event?"
Silent auctions are a critical part of many fundraising events' success, bringing in about a third of the revenue at a typical gala or dinner event. As your organization's one-night-only storefront, you have just 3 or so hours to make money. Everything must go! So you want to take advantage of all your merchandise. Today we'll look at 6 of the most commonly asked questions on procuring silent auction items that maximize revenue, including: How do we revive an auction that's gone downhill? How do we encourage more spending during the event? What are the best-selling, highest-profit silent auction items? How do we politely turn down unwanted donations? How many items should we include? What's a "super silent auction"? Most silent auction items fetch 40 to 60 percent of their retail value (see our recent infographic on predicting total revenue). Read on for practical guidelines to ensure bids reach 50 percent retail and above. 1. Revive a Dull Auction How can our nonprofit revive a silent auction event that used to bring in thousands but has gone downhill in the past couple years? This question came to us at the end of our webinar, "10 Deadly Sins of Charity Auctions," and I suspect this participant is not the only one facing this problem.
As an event organizer or volunteer, what would you say is the #1 challenge fundraising events face? Is it procuring the right auction items? Choosing the best time and date? Just getting people in the doors? We think it's not taking advantage of every revenue opportunity. All too often we underestimate the spending power of attendees. This "deadly sin" of fundraising events can show up in many ways: not charging enough for admission; delivering a timid cash appeal; wasting precious minutes on non-income generating entertainment; and as we'll discuss today, offering the same items in the charity auction year after year. One revenue opportunity not to be missed: incorporating travel into your event. Travel is consistently a top seller at auctions, and here's why: People love traveling. (Who doesn't love a vacation?) Donors budget for travel. (Studies show 83% of winning bidders set aside over 5 grand for leisure travel each year.) Unique travel Experiences help your event stand out from the competition. (Did you know the majority of winning bidders attend 4 or more philanthropic events annually?) Whether you procure trips yourself or partner with a reputable provider like Winspire, travel can be a game-changer for your bottom line. Read on to learn just how much money you could be leaving on the table without a way to access your donors' travel budgets.
While nonprofit donor development is a year-round effort, summer often brings a well-deserved slowdown to the usual tempo. Sun, sand and a slew of holidays make it all the more tempting to save the tough planning for the next arrival of peak event season (fall and spring). That said, the summer months are actually the best time to prepare for your event. You have time now to recruit and train the best volunteers, choose a theme and curate a better auction catalog than ever. We often compare charity auctions to retailers that are only open for one night a year. With such a limited time frame to raise critical funds, you want to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. Whether your next event is in a few days or a few months, read on for 4 practical tips you can do right now to generate more revenue later. 1. Consider an event theme. If you've hosted the same gala for years, choosing a festive and unique theme can be a game-changer for your revenue. Themes keep events from growing stale by drawing in more donors, increasing ticket sales and ultimately creating anticipation for the big night. Surveys show 93 percent of all attendees prioritize having fun at charity events. A unique theme is a great way to have fun while keeping the focus on fundraising.
What sells best at a silent auction? We get this question all the time, and for good reason. As certified benefit auctioneer Danny Hooper noted in our recent webinar, one of the "10 deadly sins" of charity auction events is choosing the wrong items... "My son is a great fisherman. One day last summer, we'd been fishing together all morning long with live bait. Hours later, we did not have a single bite. So my son suggested switching to a different lure. Lo and behold, two minutes later, we snagged this fish: The moral of the story: The more distinct hooks you can throw into the water, the more fish you'll catch. I've gone to many events that have been run for over a decade, and year after year I see the same 10 auction items: the autographed hockey jersey, the dinner at the president's house... Successful auctions are be able to mix up the "bait" to entice virtually everyone in the room. This is a real conundrum for a lot of committees. What are the right hooks?" Indeed, not having the right bait can kill your revenue-earning potential. The best silent auction items suit your audience, work with your event theme, and have a high potential for income generation. While every charity auction is different, sales in years past are one good indicator of what to expect from your audience. But what if your event is relatively new? Or better yet, you're looking to keep donors engaged and surprised with new and buzzworthy items? As experts in event fundraising, we have discovered certain categories sell better than others. Read on to find out which are proven bestsellers, and which tend to be duds. Best Sellers: Sell often and get high bids Food & Wine Private dinners, vintage wines, brewery tours and sushi-making parties make Food & Wine a guest favorite. Does your silent auction selection channel your donors' inner "foodies"?
In this post: "Procure Buzzworthy Travel Packages in 2016" webinar recording and part 1 of our must-read Q&A. Most charity fundraisers are not complete without a dazzling live and silent auction. And for quality items that generate "buzz," drive ticket sales and raise bidding, travel is a proven charity auction bestseller—yet one of the most difficult items to procure. To the rescue: incredible Experiences reserved on consignment. In an informative and entertaining webinar, we teamed up with our friends at Greater Giving to explain how consignment travel helps you raise more money for your cause. Topics covered include: 3 reasons travel performs well in auctions How to host a procurement party How to procure travel packages 4 key strategies to consider when using no-risk travel...and more!