silent auctions

Where to Start Your Opening Bids in an Auction

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By Renee Zau, CEO of DonationMatch

Every year, Benefit Auctioneer Sherry Truhlar is asked by a few auction chairs, “Sherry, let’s review the opening bids on these live auction items.  Where shall we start them?”

In this video and the post that follows it, she addresses why you shouldn’t care about opening bids. The science behind it is just as important for increasing your results from your silent auctions, too.

[Thanks for being so generous about sharing your insider knowledge, Sherry!]

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Benefit auctioneer Sherry Truhlar publishes "Benefit Auction Ideas," a bi-monthly e-zine for auction chairs seeking to improve the financial results of their charity auctions. Get your own copy - and a complementary procurement gift - at www.RedAppleAuctions.com.

10 Tips and Tricks for a Successful Donation Drive

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Guest post by Nicole George, CEO & Founder of The Parent Quest

Our last donation drive took us almost three months until completion. We all felt so much more pressure this time because we were going to be on LIVE TV…yikes! When rallying the troops to find donations we weren’t allowed to tell the companies we were going to be on TV, which is usually a huge draw for companies to donate. So we had to get creative. We told them it would be at a surprise location no one would expect. What surprised me the most was how many companies are willing to give, just by our following their donation request process. Some took longer than others, but all in all most companies we asked gave.

A donation drive can be very daunting. The process takes months of coordinating, organizing, and “begging” for donations. This list should help you spend less time and energy on your donation drive, yet yield higher returns. The stress a donation drive potentially can have on an organization and your staff is intimidating, but with these tips you can focus on your goal.

My Tips and Tricks to a Successful Donation Drive

  1. Never be afraid to ask for a donation. The worst they could say is no. Most companies love to donate, especially if you are a nonprofit.

  2. Be quick to reply with thanks and gratitude if a company or person donates. Always follow through. You never know when you might need them to donate again in the future. Never burn a bridge.

  3. Keep a donor registry. You don’t want to keep asking the same donors to donate to your cause every time you have a new event. Try to mix it up and tap into different donor pools. This will keep your donors happy.

  4. Tell your story. The more a donor can connect with your cause the more likely they are to donate and donate generous amounts. Adding a video is always best, but adding at least pictures with a description is a must whenever marketing your event.

  5. Don’t send updates too frequently. People are easily annoyed by multiple updates, especially on Facebook. Limit postings to once per day or every other day. (Don’t be discouraged if you lose Facebook likes during these times. It is normal.)

  6. Don’t have multiple events at the same time. Focus all of your efforts and marketing for donations to one event.  This will make sure your donors aren’t confused as to which event they donated to.

  7. Use different avenues to market your event. Social media is a big money maker now, but Facebook and Twitter aren’t your only opportunities to get your story out there. Call your local radio stations or even post your event on their Facebook page. They usually don’t mind and welcome hearing about community events. Call your local news stations as well, they may want to cover your story live. Reach out to your community as much as you can.

  8. Don’t be afraid to use a crowdfunding website such as GoFundMe, GoGetFundingIndiegogo, or Kickstarter. There are upsides and downsides to each so do your research. They all take a percentage of your donations, but all have different rules on deadlines and meeting your goal. Do your research and do it well. You don’t want to learn the rules after the fact.

  9. Offer incentives. Some people won’t donate unless they get something out of it. It is a shame, but there are people who just can’t give because it makes them feel good. Offer a small token of your appreciation, a gift bag, or even a raffle with all monetary donors who give at least a certain amount. People love games and winning.

  10. Don’t be afraid to pay a little money to get help. Websites like DonationMatch.com that help you find donations are worth more than you could ever imagine. Their connections and consulting expertise can bring far more donations and happiness to your event than you could ever tap into yourself.

Hopefully these tips will help you be successful in your fundraising endeavors. Keep your eye on the prize and shoot for the stars!

 

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Nicole George is the CEO/Founder of The Parent Quest, a nonprofit online parent-to-parent mentoring program which runs 100% off donations and fundraising.

Introducing Free Event Help in Bite-Size Pieces

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By Renee Zau, Co-founder & CEO, DonationMatch

Recently a new benefit was offered to nonprofits who opt for our DonationMatch Pro Event Page upgrade--a one-on-one coaching session with an expert fundraising event planner. We introduced this largely to assist volunteers who were newer to the world of fundraising events, often without help from former committees.

Over the years, however, I've gathered a trove of clever hacks and fixes from which I think most event committees could benefit. These are now being shared as our new series of "Event Organizer Pro Tips." Follow DonationMatch on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to receive them. (Thanks to Nailah of social communications agency Donna + Nailah for inspiring this idea!)

Do you have your own list of "must do's"? I'd love to hear what they are in the comments below!

 

Event Organizer Pro Tip
Event Organizer Pro Tip

Using Social Media to Promote Your Event

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By Juliet Davenport, Nonprofit Ambassador, DonationMatch Spring fundraising time is among us.  How are you planning to promote your event?  According to Socialable, one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal should be social media.  Because of its wide audience reach, social media can be used to "increase registration, increase buzz, and ultimately increase attendance."  However, in considering your social media platform, it's important to keep in mind who your target audience is and how they interact online.  Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are likely your best options.

Another boost is the new Pro Event page upgrade on DonationMatch. It has built-in extra help for your event to get found by search engines like Google and Bing and Facebook sharing widgets. What makes it super convenient is automatic donor promotion and the ability to export donation details.

For details on using social media to help promote your event, and for useful tools to help you manage it, read more on Socialable's post here.

How are you using social media to promote your event?

Fresh Ideas for Your School Spring Fundraiser

By Renee Zau, Co-founder, DonationMatch If you have children, you've undoubted noticed that many schools have fundraisers in the Spring, now that parents and teachers have gotten settled and the Winter holidays are over. Packages from local businesses are wonderful, especially since for some parents this is the only fundraising event they will attend all year.  However, schools have opportunities to offer unique, priceless items in auctions that are personally meaningful to parent bidders, and we want to make sure you're all utilizing these ideas to your school's advantage.  (All images from RidgeRaising 2011, courtesy of Sycamore Ridge Elementary and Harper Shay Photography)

1) One-of-a-Kind Class Projects - Each classroom creates a unique, group piece that is not only attractive to any bidder, but memorializes the year, fellow students, and friends. Be sure these are signed and dated.

Class projects, courtesy of Sycamore Ridge Elem, Harper Shay Photography
RidgeRaising 2011, courtesy of Sycamore Ridge Elem, Harper Shay Photography
RidgeRaising 2011, courtesy of Sycamore Ridge Elem, Harper Shay Photography
Courtesy of Sycamore Ridge Elem, Harper Shay Photography

2) VIPParking Spaces - Great parking is always a hot commodity at school functions, so why let parents "buy" their own parking spots for a year?

3) Time Out with the Principal/Teacher - Make getting sent to the principal's office or staying after school with a teacher a GOOD thing!  Quality time can be spent making fun decisions and/or taking local excursions.  Mani/pedi afternoons, trips to fun attractions, and even a meal at a favorite restaurant becomes a special occasion for children. This also typically raises much more than the allowance/cost allocated.

RidgeRaising 2011, courtesy of Sycamore Ridge Elementary and Harper Shay Photography

I hope these inspire new packages that delight parents, create a fun auction atmosphere, and result in more fundraising for your child's educational experience! What unique packages have YOU seen at school fundraisers?

Are You Ready for an Event?

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6 steps to determine if a fundraising event is what your organization really needs

Guest Post by Krista Berry, Owner & Principal Consultant at KB Consulting

I recently had the pleasure of working with a small, energetic non-profit organization that originally contacted me to plan their first fundraising event. Like any event management professional, my first step before diving into the planning elements was to conduct a needs assessment so I could better understand the job.

After my first conversation with the board of directors it was very clear to me that the organization wasn’t ready for a big fundraising event (yet). I discovered that, like many organizations, the event was their solution to raise funds to sustain programs and operations, but they had some critical planning that needed to be addressed first, so they were uncertain how to proceed. As a non-profit consultant, I quickly adjusted my role and recommended they take the time to organize a board planning session to prioritize what they should do and what they should NOT do this year.

While an event can be a great way for non-profits to fundraise, it’s imperative that younger organizations take the time to complete a needs assessment before they start planning a big event to avoid getting in over their head.

Now it’s your turn! Answer these 6 questions to determine if a fundraising event is feasible for your organization this year:

  • Why? The purpose of the event – this will be the foundation for any future planning.
  • What? The desired outcome of the event.
  • Who? The scope of audience and demographic info on attendees.
  • When?  The desired season, date, day and hour that event will take place.
  • Where? The desired physical location of event including destination/geographical area.
  • How?  The plan to accomplish all of the event elements above.

After I completed these steps with my client they realized that what the organization really needed was a few “friend-raiser” events to recruit more people to serve on their board of directors and to support the organization’s programming. This was a more realistic next step and is also more in line with their 2012 goals. The needs assessment combined with a board planning session helped them create clear objectives for the organization to achieve before they start planning their first fundraising event. And the ROI (return on investment) will be a successful, sustainable event that will continue to grow every year as the organization grows!

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Krista Berry, MS is the Owner & Principal Consultant at KB Consulting specializing in innovative events, workshops and capacity building solutions for non-profits and communities. She has over 10 years of non-profit experience in both San Diego and New York City.

In-kind Partnerships With Nonprofits, Part I

By Renee Zau, Co-founder, DonationMatch A question posed in a LinkedIn group made me reflect on how many (typically small) businesses don't know how to use cause marketing, specifically in-kind (non-cash) marketing, to their advantage.  If you have a great product or service, one experience is all you need to convert newbies into customers, even raving fans.  How do you get yourself in front of more potential customers without "paying" for it?

  1. Donate a package or certificate toward an auction, a raffle, or goodie bags.  Most event attendees love these, and donors often get publicized both before and after the event.  Look at donation request letters as opportunities to get hundreds, even thousands, of eyeballs on your brand. You can do online searches for event calendars, ask your employees and customers about organizations they support, check out community boards, or use DonationMatch (my site) to save time (we make connecting with events, sending pre-filled donation forms, and gift certificate delivery paperless and quick.)  One more reason to like auctions: prize winners are the most willing and able to pay more for it than anyone else. You just found your best customer in the room!
  2. Provide event amenities (photography, food/beverage, decor, spa treatments, etc). For a furniture dealer, it could be VIP seating. Chocolates are popular party favors. I've seen HP and a photographer partner to make ornaments from photos with Santa. And who wouldn't appreciate mini spa treatments or makeup touch-ups from a local beauty product store, spa, or beauty school?
  3. Help spread the word.  Your communications reach is another asset companies tend to forget about.  Employees, customers, followers, subscribers... they count.  Be familiar with events you choose to promote, make them a good fit for your customers, volunteer if possible, and the added awareness can add to a charitable fundraiser's attendance and success just as much as any monetary donation.

These opportunities are all tied to nonprofit events, my favorite kind, but may be seasonal or harder to find.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post that gives more everyday ways to help in-kind.

Why not take one lunch break to reach out and explore possibilities with a particularly interesting local organization? And register on DonationMatch to be notified of event opportunities in your market - it's still free in many cities.  I (and your local organizations) will love hearing from you!

The Savvy Behind Outrageously Profitable Fundraising Auctions is coming to San Diego!

REGISTRATION IS OPEN! What better way to kick off our DonationMatch blog than to announce our  first local event!  In partnership with San Diego Association of Nonprofits, DonationMatch is honored to host Sherry Truhlar of Red Apple Auctions in beautiful San Diego on November 9th at 8:30 a.m.  She'll be bringing her award-winning expertise and experience on fundraising event and auction success to Neighborhood House Association's centrally located auditorium in Kearny Mesa.  Who should attend?  Volunteers of fundraising event committees, event planners, nonprofit development departments, business owners and managers who want an inside look at how your in-kind donations are promoted, and those interested in making more San Diego nonprofit industry connections.  There will also be a free opportunity drawing for all attendees.

Admission is just $10, complimentary for SANDAN members and DonationMatch registered users (including staff and active volunteers). Register today!

Flyer - The Savvy Behind Outrageously Profitable Fundraising Auctions