At fundraising events, it's smart to focus your efforts on the live auction. They haul in the majority of your funds and are the evening's entertainment highlight to boot.
That said, employing a variety of revenue enhancers - mini fundraising opportunities and games - keep your agenda exciting, entertain guests and add tens of thousands of dollars to your bottom line.
We know Winspire News readers are always looking for ideas to freshen up a repeat event, so we've gathered five more fundraising add-on ideas. We've got details on the wine pull, an exciting "5th Ticket" raffle, and... the "hot potato pot-bellied pig" auction??
Move over, Heads & Tails - there are new auction money makers in town! Which will you try next?
Idea 1: Hot Potato Pot-bellied Pig (aka The Wildcard Auction™) 🐷
Ever heard the phrase, "You don't know until you ask?"
It's the principle that birthed a brand-new fundraising strategy - one benefit auctioneer specialist Danny Hooper created and named the Wildcard Auction™.
For years, people would come up to Hooper after an auction and say, 'Danny, I would have loved to donate an item to the auction, but nobody asked.'
Finally, at a rotary auction, he decided to try something new. He handed each table a few neon-colored index cards. Then Hooper announced: "We're going to try a Wildcard Auction. If you've got an item to donate, write down your name, phone number and item you'd like to donate, then send it up to the stage." The crowd loved the idea and submitted a dozen spontaneous donations.
This fast-paced, rollicking mini-auction raised a whopping $46,500 in its first time out of the gate!
Best of all, it doesn't require any extra time to procure additional items.
What you do need: Collection cards or forms; a bold auctioneer; and an energetic crowd. (Click below to download FREE printable Wildcard Auction forms and templates.)
Since its introduction, Hooper estimates the Wildcard Auction has raised more than $1,000,000 for nonprofit organizations and causes.
So...where does the potbellied pig fit in?!
"I’m the first to admit that even my best ideas backfire from time to time," Hooper recently shared on his blog. The Wildcard Auction typically draws in auction items like cooking lessons, tickets to sporting events and concerts, the use of a private jet or limo and so forth. Well, one day, a donor offered up none other than a potbellied pig!
Hooper gave the pig his best sales pitch, but only one bidder reluctantly bid at $100, in a ham-fisted attempt to get things moving. What to do now? Hooper had an idea.
He told the bidder, "Why don’t you gift the potbelly pig to somebody in this room, and if he or she wants to re-gift it, they can do so by making a $100 donation to this evening’s charity?”
Just like that, the auction took off! The pig was re-gifted 20 times in two minutes, raising a total of $2,000 for the cause. Everyone enjoyed a good belly laugh, Hooper says, "albeit at the poor little potbelly pig’s expense."
Talk about raising funds in sty-le! Read the full take on this fundraising idea here: The Hot Potato Potbelly Pig
Idea 2: The "5th Ticket" Raffle 🎫
Our second idea was graciously shared by Doug Sorrell, benefit auctioneer. We are calling it the "5th Ticket raffle," and it's an easy way to tack on a few hundred dollars to an already exciting raffle drawing.
Here's how it works. Before and during the beginning of your event, sell raffle tickets for an exciting prize. It should be something that would appeal to virtually any guest; Winspire trips (like tickets to see Justin Timberlake in Nashville!) work great.
When it's time to conduct the raffle, the auctioneer draws 4 finalists.
Then, "I remind guests that when they originally bought raffle tickets, their odds were pretty small - 1 in 350, maybe 1 in 300. Now I auction off a fifth and final raffle ticket, where the odds are no less than 1 in 5," Sorrell said via email.
"In the last month, the fifth ticket has raised up to $750 in a matter of minutes," Sorrell shares. "I've had two fifth-ticket winners over the years."
Next up are three ideas that not only take advantage of alcohol's popularity at fundraising events - they involve your board! Here are three ways your board can donate wine or liquor to support the cause.
Idea 3: Wine and Dine🍴
The simple to-do: The auction organizer asks each board member to bring a bottle of wine and a restaurant gift card worth $25 to $50, which donors can then purchase in a silent auction or raffle. If you feel you have too many silent auction items, bundle several bottles and cards into one package.
Virtually all guests will be interested in these sophisticated, indulgent packages.
What kind of restaurant gift cards should be included? Depending on where you're located, you may want to showcase local, independent businesses serving delicious regional fare. This adds some exclusivity and gives your board members a chance to connect with the owners about your cause. That said, a mixture of chain restaurants and local joints, if selected well, will widen the appeal (like a year's worth of Chick-fil-A).
Idea 4: Board Liquor Basket 🍸
Each board member donates a high quality bottle of alcohol, which is added to a basket, barrel, crate, wheelbarrow, or any other vehicle you might imagine. The bottles are then auctioned off on the night of the event as one big package.
A liquor basket can generate plenty of "buzz" for your cause.
Idea 5: Wine Pull 🍷
From potbellied swine to fine wine, you may have heard of our fifth and final idea today: the trusty wine pull.
Wine pulls are a similar concept to liquor baskets but add an element of surprise. In a nutshell, you get a couple dozen bottles of nice wines donated; your board may pool together funds to purchase a variety of nice wines at wholesale to fill an upscale wine wall. The retail value of each bottle must be at least $20 (some up to $100).
Then, wrap each bottle so the labels and value are hidden. At your event, donors purchase an entry to the wine pull for a set price. They then pull a wrapped bottle from the wine wall. The wine they pull is theirs to keep.
One twist that might convince reluctant participants to join in on the fun: Use color-coded to stickers to let the buyer know whether a bottle is red or white.
Another option is to number the bottles and have buyers draw from a bowl of numbered cards or corks. (The number they pull is the bottle they've won.) Wine pulls are incredibly popular at charity auctions because donors walk away with a guaranteed bottle of wine, plus the chance to win a top quality bottle of wine for a lower price.
"Our wine pull table was gone in 20 minutes last year, so we are doubling our number of bottles," noted one auction organizer.
Want even more ideas?
Click below to download a printable, shareable PDF with nearly two dozen exciting raffles & games ideas to include in your next fundraiser.