I’ve said it many times, “I’m here to help you!” I especially love it when I get a good question from a colleague or even an unknown-to-me event chair that has run into a fundraising conundrum. Here’s one such question – and the answer.
An associate, in charge of procuring donated items for a silent auction, was given a photo/portrait package which was to be included in the fundraiser. The business that donated the item claimed it had a retail value of $5,000. Even with bids starting at $1,000, the item didn’t receive a single bid.
The following year the same business, unsolicited and not a member of the school committee, donated the same item.
So how should unwanted donations be handled? It’s quite simple really, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Although they might be well intended, photographers, gyms and hair salons are notorious for donating items that are merely advertisements for the respective businesses. You know the ones. They are donating “a free sitting fee”, “a one month membership” or “$30 off a cut and color.”
A fundraising event should never accept any donation that has the sole purpose of getting a new client in the door so the business can start running up the actual cost.
Hair salon packages never work. We are creatures of habit and tend to have the same stylist for years. Going to another stylist feels like cheating. However, if the donated package is from a salon frequented by many of your attendees – then it should be considered.
Nobody wants a one-month membership at a gym. If the gym wants to donate an entire year – that’s another story. But, accept nothing shorter.
The list of examples of “advertisements-disguised-as-donations” could go on and on. But, I’m sure you get the picture.
The good news is there are ways to turn down donated items so that both parties can walk away with heads held high – and without embarrassment.
Tell the person or business donating the item that, “Although we appreciate your offer our committee has decided to only accept items which have no additional costs to the highest bidder.
Remember, when an item is unattractive, receives no bids or is simply unpopular, it quietly brings down the entire silent auction. Your guests might not talk about it, but they’ll observe the lack of interest – and it’s discouraging.
The last thing you want at a fundraiser are discouraged guests. It’s the auctioneer’s or event chair’s job is to create and maintain a fun atmosphere – one where the guests are happy from start to finish – and totally fired up. Unwanted donations can be a real downer.
Feel free to send me your tough questions. It just might make a good blog which will be a big help to others.