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.
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.
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.