In last week's post, "How many items should be included in a live auction?", we concluded that most events use 7 to 12 items. More important than the quantity, however, is the quality. These 7 to 12 items need to be premium, big-ticket packages worth the high bids you seek.
What if you run into trouble filling the live auction with high-caliber donations?
No-risk consignment travel items can help. Read on for 3 common scenarios in which professional benefit auctioneers recommend using no-risk travel, plus a few sample trips making headlines in 2017 (yep, we have Iceland).
1. When you have donors that love travel.
It's no secret that donors passionate about your cause, also love to travel.
Surveys show 90 percent of winning bidders take multiple trips annually - and nearly half take 4 or more trips per year! What's more, 8 in 10 winning donors are setting aside at least $5,000 per year for travel. Offering high quality travel packages at your event is a great way to redirect some of those dollars to your cause.
"I love consignment, because generally speaking, travel companies like Winspire are able to put together trips that no one else is able to do," says benefit auctioneer Scott Robertson.
Example: Ultimate Hamilton Experience
Winning bidders not only receive 2 tickets to Broadway's sold-out Hamilton: An American Musical, they will also get the insider scoop with a 3-course pre-show dinner with two members of the cast, a private in-theater meet-and-greet, and more. Check out traveler Laura O.'s experience on the trip in April 2017:
"I don't think there is a bad seat in the house...we could see and hear everything. It was also amazing to go backstage afterwards and see the costumes, walk on the stage, watch the cast and crew, then walk on stage and see the backdrop and props. All in all a pretty magical night!"
Talk about an exclusive auction item! With show creator Lin-Manuel Miranda joking that even he can't get tickets to the show, this complete package has wide appeal in virtually any audience.
2. If you're having trouble procuring "WOW" worthy items.
As experts in fundraising events, we know procuring buzzworthy auction items gets more challenging every year.
"You can have the horsepower - that is, people with good spending capacity - in the room, but if you can’t get the items they really want to bid on, we’re leaving money on the table," says Robertson.
You want to think outside the box for premium items that generate bidding wars - and unique Experiences, which are known to sell for higher prices than physical items, are tough to put together, much less get donated. So if you've procured 6 or 7 wonderful donated items, then 2 or 3 consignment travel items may be an appropriate addition to the full live auction offerings.
"Consignment travel is not meant to be your whole live auction," adds Robertson. "But it’s a really good way, especially if you can’t procure travel elsewhere, to include it within that live auction offering."
Example: Iceland: Land of Fire and Ice
According to AARP, one third of baby boomers traveling internationally are interested in bucket list travel, or taking "the trip of a lifetime." Iceland, 2017's hottest destination, certainly fits the bill.
A trip through Winspire whisks your donors to Iceland with 5 nights' lodging, tour of the Northern Lights, dip in the famed Blue Lagoon spa and more.
Plus, travel is open-ended, so winners can go whenever they want. Most donated travel items (think hotel stays or a cruise) are restricted to certain dates. With Winspire, your donors get to decide whether they want to experience lush greenery and waterfalls in summer, or the famed Northern Lights in winter.
It's their choice!
3. When you're too swamped after the event to fulfill trips for winning bidders.
The last thing you want after a successful event is to have your phone ringing off the hook with a winning bidder asking, "I want to go on the trip on April the 19th, and I'd like to upgrade our seats to business class, and I want to book the tasting on this date..." and you're left wondering, How do we do that?
Not only are trips tough to get donated - they can take countless hours and headaches trying to fulfill to the high standards expected of your nonprofit. And personally I don't know of any nonprofit staff with "extra time" to fulfill complex travel packages!
"We pride ourselves on a full service booking service," explains Ian Lauth, Creative Director at Winspire. "So we don’t just mail certificates to your winning bidders and trust they will have a good time. We take care of your winning bidders from start to finish after the event is over."
"Winspire, with me, has a 100 percent customer satisfaction track record, I mean absolute," asserts Robertson. "Make sure your travel provider has the concierge service. That way you can say sold, you collect the money, and turn it over to Winspire."
4. When you want to meet and exceed fundraising goals.
At any charity auction, the focus throughout the night must remain squarely on fundraising. No-risk travel is a helpful tool that allows you to do just that.
In a recent webinar, benefit auctioneer (and former Winspire skeptic) Keith Jones shared a helpful perspective...
Too many nonprofits think no-risk trips take money out of the room, deflate the fund-a-need, and end up costing an event money. Fact is, people who buy the trips are still giving big money in the paddle raise. And the money you didn't extract using travel, doesn't end up being spent elsewhere.
Your big donors give because they can. Why not offer different opportunties to support your cause through exciting, bucket-list travel?