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Thanks for another Record-Setting Year

Posted by Scott On January 5th

When I began my career as a Professional Benefit Auctioneer some 20-plus years ago, my number one goal was to help charities in need – especially children charities. I thought then, if I could assist charities, schools and organizations raise several hundred thousand dollars a year, the world would be a better place.

2014 Somonma Wine Weekend  (3)

My mission came right from the heart. Little could I have realized the figure I had in my head at that time would not only be reached, but exceeded way beyond my expectations.

Fast forwarding to 2014, my team and I are so grateful to assist each individual charity achieve or exceed their fundraising goals. This allows the charity to focus their good work to help their client base and make a positive difference in their community.

After conducting 79 fundraising auctions in 2014, our team was able to help raise a total of $28,150,250 for charities within Florida and throughout the country. That’s a new record. As a comparison, in 2013 our team was able to help raise $21,757,360 and in 2012, $14,853,000.

But, let me be clear, we didn’t do it on our own. We’ve had the privilege of working with some great Event Planners, Event Chairs and their committees, volunteers who work tirelessly for months on end, (if not an entire year) to make their fundraiser a success. It truly is an honor to work aside such dedicated individuals who feel so strongly about their mission. In many ways their passion makes my job a little easier. I hope vice versa.

Here are just a few of the fundraising highlights of 2014.

  • 2014 Somonma Wine Weekend  (2)In Sonoma, California, last September my team and I were able to raise $4 million dollars at the Grand Tasting/Auction at the Sonoma Wine Weekend for a combination of children’s charities. One of the identified needs was a literacy program that teaches migrant children, and their non-English speaking parents, to read. This will help the world as these families break the cycle of poverty and become more productive workers and citizens. This is the truly amazing part of our work, and for that we are extremely grateful.
  • Conservancy of Southwest Florida again exceeded all expectations, raising $1.3 million net to support their worthy programs. One of these programs is the von Arx Wildlife Hospital. Earlier this year, in a one week period of time, in addition to all the other animals they rescued, 15 Pelicans were treated for serious fishermen related injuries. Without the generosity of supporters, this important facility would not be available
  • The Southwest Florida Wine Festival raised $2.5 million in the live auction and is ranked in the top 5 charity wine auctions in United States by Wine Spectator Magazine. The even better news is the majority of the proceeds are going to help fund the brand new Golisano Children’s Hospital currently under construction with a projected opening date in 2016.
  • The Celebrity Martini Glass Auction chose 2 worthy charities this year.  The first was PAWS, which provides service dogs to wounded warriors.  The second was Honor Flight which flies WWII veterans from Naples to Washington D.C. to view the WWII memorial. In Celebrity Martini Glass auctioneer2014 this event, which collects autographs from well-known celebrities on beautiful martini glasses and then connects with an artist to customize the glass, raised over $300,000. That compares to the $21,000 raised at its inaugural event just 4 years ago.
  • Marion Downs Hearing Center in Denver, thanks to a family connection, was able to recruit Donnie Osmond to perform a private concert after the auction, for 300 attendees at the gala. The funds raised at this record breaking event will help this research facility discover new ways to help deaf and hearing impaired children lead more traditional lives.
  • In late September, I traveled to Juneau, Alaska for the Bartlett Regional Hospital Foundation and set a new record for their fundraising auction. This remote city needed specialized equipment to allow patients to “to stay home” during their hospital stay instead going through the stress of taking an emergency med-flight to Seattle.
  • An untimely death of a friend and much beloved fundraising auctioneer David Reynolds left several charities challenged with finding a new auctioneer. When I reached out to his family see how I could help, they scheduled me to conduct three events in San Francisco on three consecutive days. Being able to help David’s family and the charities, was a wonderful experience. Even better news is they have already booked me for the same events in 2015.
  • At a fundraising event at Carrolwood Country Day School in Tampa FL, during the special appeal portion of the live auction, over one million dollars was given to jump start the project of building a multi-purpose facility on campus. When this new building is in place, the students will have a gym to call their own, including the ability to host basketball and volleyball games plus social activites.
  • There were so many other incredible fundraising galas that I wish I could mention but there is simply not enough space in this blog.

Happy Scott at 80K

As an active member of the National Auctioneers Association (NAA) I was requested to speak on various elements of “fundraising auctions” at the NAA Conference and Show in July and at the Benefit Auctioneers Summit in September. This opportunity allowed me to give back to my profession by working with other fundraising auctioneers on techniques to improve their craft. Which in turn will assist them raise more money for the charities in their respective communities.

I look back at 2014 with pride. But, I also know that I cannot dwell on the past.  A successful, record-shattering year does not mean the mission has been completed.  In fact, quite the contrary.

To the charities I’ve worked with this past year – and especially the Event Chairs – I say Thank You!  We created a strong and successful partnership.

But, it’s a new year. There are many new and important missions ahead. So many families are counting on us.

And I’m always here to help. So if you know of anyone who could benefit from my services in 2015 please contact me as early as possible.

Thank you for your continued support!

 

 

One of the greatest joys of being a parent is watching your children open their presents on Christmas morning. The looks on their faces has to make you smile as their tear into the wrapped boxes and discover they got exactly what they wanted.

 

downloadSo how did the parents nail it?  How did they know what to get and who to get it for? The answer is usually pretty simple. Depending on the child’s age, they asked them directly or they asked them covertly in the months leading up to what many consider the “Happiest Time of the Year.”

This approach is the same approach Event Chairs or the Committee Members in charge of procuring items for a Live Auction should follow.

Your attendees are very strategic when it comes to bidding. Just because they want to support the charity and its cause does not mean they will bid on an item they don’t want. The truth is, they will only bid on items they want – and feel they will be able to use or enjoy.

So the goal is to find items for the live auction that match the wants, needs, interests and personalities of your guests.

But, how do you do that?  You ask!

Some prefer the direct route. “A couple wants to donate a trip for two for an African safari. Do you know of anyone who would have a specific interest in that?”

Some prefer the covert route. “I overheard a couple talking about an African safari they took this summer. Boy, it sure sounded like they had a lot of fun!”

Now the question arises – who do you ask?

Well, you don’t ask the people who typically don’t spend their money at your live auction because it won’t matter to them what’s up on the bidding block.

You ask those who do spend their money to support the charity.  They are the ones where it’s important to know what they are seeking and will be excited to bid on.

If you don’t want to ask your best supporters or donors directly or indirectly, you can always ask their friends or significant others. They are usually very willing to help out especially since their information is going to the advancement of a worthy cause.

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As for what they want. They want trips.  They want experiences. These often come up as auction packages or consignment packages.

They also want consumable products. They generally are not looking for items that have to be stored for a lengthy period of time – although there are some exceptions to this rule.

So, the key to having a successful Live Auction at your next fundraising event is to have items your attendees not only want – but on items in which they are willing to bid high.

Knowing what your guests will bid on in advance – or will have a huge interest in – goes a long way in adding to your bottom line.  So ask the questions that need to be asked – and ask the right people. If they end up with the highest bid they just might be as delighted as a child on Christmas morning.

 

 Robertson is considered one of the premier professional benefit auctioneers working in the United States today.  In the past 20 years, Robertson has conducted hundreds of benefit auctions throughout Florida and the Southeastern United States and annually raises millions of dollars for a variety of not-for-profit organizations, schools and charities.

For more information about Scott Robertson of Scott Robertson Auctioneers visit his Web site “The Voice of Experience” at www.thevoe.com or call (239) 246-2139.

Investing in an Auctioneer

Posted by Scott On December 11th

You’ll have to forgive me while I go on a personal crusade for this Blog. But, the following situation arises on a regular basis and I thought it appropriate to talk about an important matter concerning the hiring or not hiring of a Professional Benefit Auctioneer.

Recently I was asked to send a proposal for my auction services to an organization that was in the planning stages for an upcoming event. I did just that and waited for a response.  And I waited some more.

 

Scott RobertsonEventually I took it upon myself to contact them – to follow up. That’s when I learned they indeed had received my proposal – which was good to know – and that the gala committee had reviewed my proposal. My contact with the organization went on to say that, “The committee decided not to use my services because they did not want to spend the money.”

When I heard those words I knew my proposal was presented inappropriately.  By the way, my least favorite word in that entire sentence was “spend.” I wanted to inform them there is a big difference between spending and investing.

Let’s talk about spending.  When you spend you are paying for something that eventually goes away – or at a minimum – depreciates. You spend money on food – it is eaten – it goes away. You spend money on fuel – it’s consumed – it goes away. You spend money on a new car – it depreciates in value the minute you drive it off the dealership lot.

Now let’s talk about investing. We invest in the stock market. We invest in education. When we invest money the expectation is that the investor will get a return.  It’s not always guaranteed, but the goal is to get a larger amount of money back than originally put out.

The hiring of a Professional Benefit Auctioneer should be looked at as an investment – and not an expenditure.

As for the organization I was dealing with, I asked, “Did you take my proposal fee and simply subtract it from the amount raised last year?”  Their response, “Yes.” To which I responded, “That’s not how my fee should be viewed!”

What they should have done is estimated how much a Professional Benefit Auctioneer will bring to the table – the added profit factor if you will – and then subtract the fee from the total.

The truth is I know how to bring in additional funds to an organization. When I don’t think I will be an asset to the group I am the first to tell them.

 

helpMy schedule is quite busy and can be selective as to which groups I want to work. And I only want to work with groups I think I can help.

If I feel my fee isn’t justifiable, I’ll tell the organization and try to find them a no-cost or lower-cost auctioneer. I do not want to cost organizations money – I want to make them money. I do not want to be something they spend money on. I want to be an investment – and a solid investment at that!

It’s all about the cause.  It’s not about me.

My disappointment with the organization I’m using as an example in this Blog has little to do with them not hiring me and everything to do with the fact their fundraiser will just remain status quo as they try to match the previous year’s take.

I know I could have helped them reach higher – been more profitable. But then on the bright side – there’s always next year.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Posted by Scott On December 4th

Many times organizations have low expectations when it comes to the amount of money they might raise during their event. I have a pretty good theory why they think that way – fear of failure.

Event Chairs and his or her committee members feel if they set a high goal and don’t reach it they will be perceived as failures and the event will be perceived as a failure.  And as we all know, nobody wants to fail.

So what do they do?  Well, they usually stick with the status quo, repeat the past event, and pray and hope that they can match that which was raised the previous year – or at least get close to it.

This negative – or at minimum – neutral thinking doesn’t do the organization or its money-raising efforts justice. I say, “Reach High! Don’t Sell Yourself Short!”

In January of this year I wrote a Blog that focused on the fact 2013 was a record-setting year for me.  In all, I helped raised more than $22 million for charities all across the country.

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Did I sit back and say, hey Scott, let’s see if you can tie that amount in 2014?  Heck no!  My goal was to exceed it and I’ve already accomplished that back in May. Organizations need to think the same way.

The hiring of a Professional Benefit Auctioneer is one way charities can reach higher when it comes to the amount of money they could raise. Yes that comes with a price tag. But my experience shows it’s worth it. As an example, every time I’ve been hired to host an event for the first time the organization set a new record.  No brag. Just fact.

After an event, I love it when the organizers say to me, “We never knew the room had that kind of potential.”  And I say, “The room always had that kind of potential.  It’s just a matter of extracting it.”

Everybody wants their event to grow. That might not happen in the number of attendees, but it can grow with the quality of attendees. And quality attendees translate into more dollars generated.

So here are four suggestions.

  • Figure out how to get the right people and charitable new individuals to the event.
  • Figure out how to get your current supporters to open their pocketbooks a little wider.
  • Engage the board of directors to be the leaders of giving and not merely attendees. Board members must lead by example if they expect others to give.
  • Secure items the attendees will want to purchase with competitive bidding.

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This will occur by exuding quality, not only of the event and venue or the items to be auctioned off, but in the cause itself. Donors want to know their money is not only needed, but will be invested wisely.

Everybody can dream of reaching a new level and raising more money – but it’s the planning that will get them there.  Those that don’t plan or try to reach higher usually revert back to their “little cocoon of comfort” located in Status QuoVille.

Stay out of that town if you want to grow. You must remember, the more your event grows the more your organization can help the cause.

With a little positive thinking – a lot of planning – an abundance of quality – and maybe even a Professional Benefit Auctioneer to pull it all together – you’ll discover reaching higher wasn’t so much of a reach after all.

 

The Fear of Change (Part 2 of 2)

Posted by Scott On November 21st

In Part 1 of this Blog I talked about change – a natural part of our every day existence.  Change is inevitable – and sometimes essential. This is especially true when it comes to the planning and the execution of a charity fundraising event.

Throughout the course of a year I run into charities and organizations that are resistant to change – afraid to transform their fundraising efforts and program – due in part to tradition, despite the fact their events continue to raise less and less money.

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Even if an event raises the same amount of money each year, the charity is still losing money due to escalating expenses and inflation.  As I said, “Some people just won’t let go of the past – even if it means they’ll have no future.”

In many instances the person or persons most resistant to change are the older committee members of an event – those who have been an active and loud voice of the charity or organization for a great number of years. In fact, they might have even organized the first event decades ago.

Many of these early fundraising pioneers – as well as some newcomers – simply do not like change. And those hung up on tradition often recruit a “following” because they feel there is strength in numbers. The “same old same old” works just fine in their minds and they’ll resist any attempt to steer their sinking ship to a new port.

In many instances just one word explains their reasoning why – control.  They hate to lose it.

If you’re an Event Chair you cannot let this happen.  You must stand strong – take the ship’s wheel – and direct it to that new and exciting port – the one with more riches.

While some charities may have a paid staff person to oversee and coordinate an event, the majority of Event Chairs are actually unpaid volunteers. The person in charge, who feels change is needed, can experience a great deal of self-doubt and expect criticism right up to and including the night of the event. In short, “It’s lonely at the top.” But remember, even Mt. Everest has been conquered.

For the record, I’m not saying change for change’s sake. I am saying “change for the better with time-proven techniques.”

The art of fundraising changes every year and it’s my job to know the trends and incorporate those trends into every auction I host.

Recently I was hired by a group to oversee their fundraising event. During the planning stages I laid out the game plan which included major changes to their past events.  It came as no surprise to me when a few voices sitting around the table disapproved of making changes and insisted their event stay the same as last year citing “tradition!”

Here’s where the strong Event Chair took charge. Under no circumstances was she going to revert back to the old ways. She explained the declining revenue and that change was necessary for the livelihood of the organization and the families counting on them.

 

expectations of a frontman-fundraising auctioneerShe stuck to her guns – quashed the vocal minority – and worked closely with me in the months leading up to the event to assure every “t” was crossed and every “i” dotted. This meant the event did not look the same as previous years, did not have the same items to be auctioned off, did not have the same people touting the cause and was a heck of a lot more fun.

I’m happy to report that during the debriefing meeting – after the event – committee members could not have been more congratulatory. Comments included; “What a great event!”  “We had so much fun!” “That went so smoothly!”

But the most important comment was; “We raised more money!!!”

It takes strong leadership to implement changes – but as this story proves – it’s worth it in the long run.

The older committee members – those resistant to change – may put up a fight and speak in loud voices. But the thrill of putting on a fresh and fun event and raising more money when compared to previous events will speak even louder.

 

 

A full time professional Benefit Auctioneer, Robertson annually conducts 70-80 fundraising auctions, raising more than $25 million dollars thus far in 2014. He is one of an estimated 30 auctioneers in the country that make fundraising auctions their full time profession.  Scott has earned the Benefit Auctioneer Specialist (BAS) designation from the National Auctioneers Association.  Less than 1% of the auctioneers in the country have earned the BAS professional designation.  To learn more about Scott Robertson Auctioneers visit thevoe.com or call (239) 246-2139.

The Fear of Change-Part 1

Posted by Scott On November 13th

Ben Franklin is credited for the quote, “There are only two things certain in life: Death and Taxes.” Well, with all due respect to one of our country’s favorite Founding Fathers, who was also an author, inventor, statesmen and diplomat – he missed one. The truth is “There are only three things certain in life:  Death. Taxes. And Change.”

Scott Robertson

Change is a natural part of our existence. Things around us change.  Just look at the northern forests as their summer greenery turns into a canopy of brilliant multi-colors. We also change. Not only physically as we get older, but what we wear, what we drive, the technology that we use.

There are those who are resistant to change.  Although any individual in any age group can be guilty, it does seem the older one gets the more likely one is to reject change.

In many ways the status quo is a warm, cozy blanket – and why discard that which is so familiar – that which has been good enough for so many comforting years – for the preconceived untested and unfamiliar unknown.

Why indeed?

Well today, when it comes to the planning and the execution of a charity fundraising event, there is a very, very good reason – indeed.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times in the course of a year I run into charities and organizations that are resistant to change – even though their events have suffered a slow and agonizing decline in recent years. Some people just won’t let go of the past – even if it means they’ll have no future.

There are so many angles to this Blog it’s difficult to pick which road to head down first.  So perhaps the best way to explain exactly what I mean is by telling a true story – one that occurred recently.

Scott Robertson

After more than 20 years as a Professional Benefit Auctioneer I’m proud to say I do come with a wealth of experience.  But I also come with a great deal of enthusiasm and work hard to raise the level of excitement at every fundraiser at which I’m hired and that includes both the silent and live auctions.

This knowledge, this passion comes through early-on in the process of planning a major event. Unfortunately, the knowledge and passion don’t always translate well with some committee members – and especially those – for lack of a better word – curmudgeons – that have been an active and loud voice of the charity or organization for a great number of years. In fact, they might have even organized the first event decades ago.

Many of these early fundraising pioneers – as well as some newcomers – simply do not like change.  The “same old same old” works just fine in their minds and they’ll resist any attempt to steer the sinking ship to a new port. In this particular case they did their best to sabotage the event.

In many instances just one word explains their reasoning why – control.  They hate to lose it.

In Part 2 of this Blog I’ll talk about how the person in charge of the event should handle the taking over of the ship’s wheel and direct the sea-worthy vessel to that new and exciting port – the one with more riches.

 

 

A full time professional Benefit Auctioneer, Robertson annually conducts 70-80 fundraising auctions, raising more than $25 million dollars thus far in 2014. He is one of an estimated 30 auctioneers in the country that make fundraising auctions their full time profession.  Scott has earned the Benefit Auctioneer Specialist (BAS) designation from the National Auctioneers Association.  Less than 1% of the auctioneers in the country have earned the BAS professional designation.  To learn more about Scott Robertson Auctioneers visit thevoe.com or call (239) 246-2139.

 

 

Utilizing Auction Item Consignment Companies

Posted by Scott On November 6th

Seemingly every day I receive a message from a client asking “How do we secure great items for our fundraising auction”. Does this question sound familiar to you and your committee? You are not alone in this quest to find high profit items that will excite your guests and get them to bid.

Experience has taught me that in order to have a successful fundraising auction you need the following four components in place.

  • The right people in the seats. These guests must believe in your cause, have the financial resources to support the cause, and the desire to help.
  • Great items for the attendees to purchase. Everyone is strategic in their bidding and will not bid on items they don’t intend to use. Pre-event promotion is always a good idea so attendees arrive ready to bid on items that excite them.
  • A great ambassador like a fundraising auctioneer. He or she will be the glue that holds the other components together and motivates the audience.
  • A cause that people can easily support. Those donating their money at a fundraising event want to make sure their donation will make an impact on the lives of others.

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If you have 3 of the 4 components in place – then great – you’re almost there – but not quite. And the component I’ve seen left out most often is #2 – great items.

If the right people are there, if the right auctioneer is there and the cause is right, but the items are wrong, a charity will leave so much money on the table because they weren’t strategic in their item procurement.

I hear from many charities throughout the year. They tell me they would love to have better live auction items but don’t have the resources. I totally understand.  In fact, getting the right items for a live auction is more challenging than ever for some.

One possible solution for these charities may be – and I stress may be – Consignment Companies, great businesses that are totally focused on putting together trips and experiences that are absolutely unique and wonderful top shelf items.

These companies purchase items at volume wholesale prices, mark them up a little, and then provide the item or package to Not-For-Profit organizations at no initial cost. The charity only pays for the item after it is auctioned and sold at the charity’s gala. Rest assured a good fundraising auctioneer never sells an item below the cost of the package. Another advantage of using consignment is that the packages can be sold multiple to times to several bidders, a donated item typically can only be sold once.

When the auction is over the charity contacts the consignment company, informs them which item was purchased, provides them with the funds and then gives them the contact information of the person who won the item.

The consignment company will act as the concierge and contact the bidder directly and work with them all the way until the bidder utilizes the trip. Typically quality consignment companies can be flexible, if needed, to modify the trip to meet the needs of the buyer.

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It’s important the consignment company acts as the concierge so the buyer receives the personal service they deserve and the charity can focus on other matters.

Another great point about these companies is that they often under promise and over deliver and that will make the winning bidder feel even better about the item they purchased. That’s pretty rare in today’s world.

A great opportunity for donors is underwrite the cost of the package. Often time’s potential donors don’t really have a product or service they can donate which will generate active bidding. (Example “Last will and testament provided by an attorney) While the service may be needed by all…………exciting trips and experiences are so much more fun and will generate more profit for the charity.

I do have one caution.  There are a lot of consignment companies out there. Do not go with one you found on the Internet – or the cheapest. You need to use a company that has an outstanding reputation and a great track record for delivering what it promises.

If you’re looking for one, contact me. I have a great one in mind.

I hope this helps those charities looking for unique items and experiences their guests will truly love to bid on.

Sure, there is a cost involved. But even with the cost big dividends await.

Tips for Planning A First-Year Event

Posted by Scott On October 30th

There are so many firsts in life.  Your first steps. Your first day of school.  Your first true love.  Your first job.  I could go on and on and on.

The truth is – you’ll always remember your firsts. That’s because they were always the start of something very important.

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The same holds true for a charity’s first fundraising event. During the course of the past 20-plus years, I’ve been privileged to participate in many of these milestones and I’ve come to a conclusion about what makes them truly successful.

This may come as a shock to some long-time readers of my Blogs – but the amount of money raised  by a charity during their first years’ event is not the major deciding factor as to what made it successful. It’s the strength of the event’s foundation.

It is critical that the first year of an event is built on solid ground and solid principles. All too often charities host their first auction and its main focus is generating cash.

However, the first and main focus of the charity should be developing what will become a long-lasting event – one that will raise money for those in need – year after year.

Don’t get me wrong – a first year event should, and more than likely, will make money. But you must remember the event is bigger than the first year profit. Your fundraising event needs to become a source of profit years down the road and the best way to do that is to build a strong foundation out of the gate.

That’s where I can help. In some ways you might consider me not only the builder – but the architect as well.  fundraising auctioneer

Often times I hear, “When our event grows we will want to hire you then.”  Well, that’s great to hear. It gives me job security. Unfortunately, it’s not good for the charity.

That’s because the first year is the most crucial year. I know what goes into building a strong foundation and it takes a hands-on approach to do it correctly the first time. The work on the foundation, the architectural drawings if you will, could begin to take shape up to a year prior to the event actually taking place.

As the planning for the second annual event begins it’s also important to review what took place during the first event.

The mistakes made and the successes achieved all need to be analyzed. This includes components such as marketing techniques, audience development, sponsorships and ticket sales – to name a few.

As I often say “ideas are something you try once”. “Traditions are when you utilize an idea the second time”. Be careful in establishing traditions at your event as they are most challenging to change.

Like I said in the second paragraph, “You’ll always remember your first.” That’s because it’s the start of something very important – and should be built for longevity.

 

The 7 Year Ditch

Posted by Scott On October 23rd

Being repetitive is boring.  Being repetitive is boring. Being repetitive is boring. Being repetitive is boring.  Being repetitive is…..well, you get the idea.

After reading the opening paragraph you were probably bored yourself and wondering where in the heck is this Blog heading – what noteworthy message am I trying to convey? Let me explain.

 

Scott

After some 20 years experience as a Professional Benefit Auctioneer there is one major mistake charities make time after time – they eventually bore their guests and attendees to the point they lose interest in the fundraising event itself – and that in turn translates into fewer seats and tables being filled and fewer dollars raised.

The main culprit for the boredom – the “same-old same-old.” You might be surprised by the number of charities that conduct the same fundraiser year after year with barely any noticeable change from the previous event.

So, were does the headline “The 7 Year Ditch” come from? Well, the lifecycle of any fundraising event is 7 years unless the event has experienced some substantial upgrades and revisions. So if you’re doing the same old same old 7 times in a row – ditch it. Your event is about to run out of steam – if it hasn’t already.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The solution is simple.  Keep it fun and fresh.

The “pushback” I often hear “ it worked last year and we are afraid to make changes”. Or “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. From my vantage point is that updating your event is more about preventive maintenance, than repairing broken parts.

You can maintain the overall theme of the fundraising event but it needs to evolve year after year – it needs a totally different look.

Sure, there is something to be said for familiarity. It does create a comfort zone for many. But it’s the unexpected – the element of surprise that will grab your attendees’ attention and get them excited the minute they walk into your venue.

“Keep it Fresh” is a concept I cannot repeat enough times. There are several ways to do this.

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Your fundraising event must have fresh ideas and keep current with the times. I am very familiar with the latest trends in the industry.  However, there are too many to put into a single Blog. So feel free to contact me.  I’d be happy to share what I know.

Your fundraising event should also consist of fresh auction items – items your bidders actually want. This goes for the silent auction as well as the live auction. The new and exciting items should be marketed to your guests in advance of the event itself. This will motivate more to actually attend and just might bring in a few new faces.

Finally – “Keep it Fun!” The more your guests are entertained the happier they will be and the longer they will stay. And that translates into more dollars.

So avoid “The 7 Year Ditch!”  Be sure your event has a totally different look year after year.

Remember, most people decide at the conclusion of an event if they plan to return for next year’s gala. Keeping your event fresh, fun and evolving will keep your guests thinking, “What will they do next?” And that’s more than half the battle.

 

 

 

“Freebies” A Bad Idea

Posted by Scott On October 16th

There is no doubt the American public loves to get something for free.  Shopping at the local supermarket is a great example. Those BOGO’s – buy one get one free items – fly off the shelf as fast as the stock person can put them on.

And don’t forget about those free samples found throughout the store. You know the ones.  Whether it is from behind a table or actual full size marketing display, the person offering the tempting morsel encourages you to take a bit – while at the same time bombarding you with a well-rehearsed sales pitch.

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“Freebies” do have a place in consumer marketing.  But there is one place where “Freebies” should not be offered – a fundraising event.

Specifically, a charity should never provide complimentary tickets to its gala. It’s great in theory, but my experience tells me it’s bad in reality.

Your attendees should want to attend – not be “freebied” into attending. After all, this is a fundraiser and its main purpose is to raise money. Besides, the price of the ticket helps to cover the cost of putting on the event.  The charity handing out free tickets is simply like shooting oneself in the financial foot.

 

There’s another very good reason a charity should not provide complimentary tickets. In short, people usually have as much fun as they pay for.

As much as I discourage the practice, some charities I’ve worked with in the past have provided complimentary tickets to some guests. If I know who those guests are and where they are sitting I relay the information to key committee members.

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My purpose for doing this is so the key committee members can keep a sort of running tab on their participation and report back to me at the end of the event.  What I discovered did not come as a surprise to me.  Those who received complimentary tickets participated less – if at all – when compared to those who did pay.

However, the committee didn’t just report the miserly in the crowd – they also reported the most generous. That’s very important for next year’s planning.

One exception to this rule is if Table Captains purchase and entire table and invite their friends to join them at the event. When this occurs there is an underlying tone that there is expectation these guests will actively participate during the event. If a guest does not participate they will likely find themselves not invited to next year’s event.

So, as a part-time sportsman, I’d just like to remind charities to “fish where the fish are and never attempt to fish in an empty pond.” It’s just a waste of time – and bait.

In this instance, the bait comes in the form of a complimentary ticket – and the empty pond – the ticket holder.