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Under (and Traveling To) the Boardwalk

May 31, 2017
It’s thought that the first boardwalk in the United States opened to the public in the late 19th century, in Atlantic City. The idea of combining entertainment of one form or another with beautiful beach views may have existed previously, but it was there, in New Jersey, where an American summer totem was born.

Mitch-Stuart loves setting up donors with summer vacations worthy of postcards and “How I Spent My Summer” papers upon return to school. Our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages can send your supporters around the world, and during the summer some of our favorite destinations have amazing boardwalks to explore.

For families, Old Orchard Beach checks off all of the requirements of a great boardwalk. There’s the Palace Playland, with its carousel, slide and bounce house for the kids. For adults, the pier has its own nightclub. And for everyone, the restaurants serve some of the freshest seafood around including Maine lobsters (which are worth the trip all by themselves!). And all of this is just an hour and a half from Boothbay, and almost exactly the same from Boston.

The boardwalk at Venice Beach is colorful in a way that only California could be, from its open-air gym to its Snapchat glasses vending machines (a rare collision of Muscle and Silicon Beaches). At around 1.5 miles, the Venice Beach Boardwalk is lined with artists and street performers, restaurants and cafes, and every type of tchotchke dealer one could seek. And it’s steps from the gorgeous beaches of both Venice and Santa Monica (the latter connected to the boardwalk area by bike and walking path). It even has its own elevated view, with the rooftop lounge at Hotel Erwin acting as an observatory deck for those who want to see the colorful craziness from a birds-eye view.

Is Navy Pier a boardwalk? Well, who says you need an ocean? In Chicago, Lake Michigan substitutes for the Atlantic or Pacific, and the 101-year old boardwalk and pier has become a center of all things Chi-town. Giordano’s is on premises for those seeking the famous deep dish pizza, while Riva Crabhouse provides an upscale seafood experience. Dining and sightseeing cruises are constantly departing from the Pier, as well, and the landscaped green surrounding it all gives visitors a chance to picnic on a warm day. Beyond Wrigley Field, there may be no attraction in Chicago that appeals to such a wide swath of the city’s visitors.

When it comes to this quintessentially American class of attraction, though, Coney Island may be the one that comes to mind first. This New York institution, back at full strength after being battered by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, welcomes hundreds of thousands of tourists and locals each year. As seen in countless films, the Ferris wheel here has become a symbol of the New York beyond Manhattan’s skyscrapers. On the ground, classic fair food is in abundance, along with the sorts of carnival games and attractions that may scratch that nostalgic itch for your donors.
Old Orchard Beach

Venice Beach

Navy Pier

Coney Island


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More Memorial Day Getaways

May 24, 2017
This year, more than 39 million people will get on the road for the Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA, the most in 12 years. And not all of them can go to the three destinations we highlighted three years ago here on the blog.

While Mitch-Stuart’s non-profit travel packages can be used throughout most of the year, we’re partial to creating Memorial Day trips to remember. And while Seattle, Southern California and Florida are still excellent choices for celebrating the three-day weekend, they are, by no means, the only destinations worthy of consideration:

There is never a bad time of year to visit New York; even in the dead of winter, there’s so much to do and see. But the Big Apple makes this list for two reasons: Springtime, even if it’s late spring, is always a time of high spirits, thanks to locals being able to trade coats for sunglasses, and Fleet Week begins. The annual celebration of the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps features the Parade of Ships, Meet the Pilots question-and-answer sessions, and even air shows featuring Naval and Marine aircraft. Even for New York, the energy on the streets during the festivities is peaking.

Las Vegas lives for three-day weekends, and Memorial Day weekend is no exception. The city comes alive with visitors, especially from nearby Los Angeles, and every restaurant, nightclub and resort puts its best foot forward. And while it’s hard to point at any individual event as being only for the holiday weekend, the massive number of shows in the city mean there’ll be plenty to do.

Visiting the south during the Memorial Day weekend makes perfect sense. Getting to the Sun Belt before the more oppressive summer heat arrives in June. That’s true for Charleston, one of our favorite cities, with an average high temperature of 85 in May, against 90 in July. Maybe as importantly, the lows in May still get down to 63 degrees, making evening walking tours extremely comfortable. And with Memorial Day weekend also being the kickoff of Spoleto Festival USA, which brings artists from around the world to South Carolina, there’s plenty to do while enjoying the weather’s last hospitable days.


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Underwriters for big budget trips

May 17, 2017
One of the worries that many organizations have when they first talk with us is that their donors won’t be able to garner bids on fundraising auction travel packages due to cost. We’ve discussed before why non-profits should generally have more faith in their supporters when it comes to generosity during gala auctions, but we’ve got tools beyond positive thinking to help get once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities into the hands of donors.

If an organization is worried about the price of one of our trips, finding an underwriter for the item is often a possibility. In this scenario, an outside company essentially “advertises” with the item, paying money for the chance to be mentioned alongside the trip in question (along with, of course, the chance to support a worthy cause). Think of public radio, for instance, where commercials are eschewed for underwriters: Businesses mentioned briefly in between stories, often with nods to their relationship with the station identified by phrases like “Funding provided by…” or “Brought to you by…” By getting a trip is sponsored or underwritten by an outside company, an auction organizer can be guaranteed of making money off of a trip, even if its sale price doesn’t bring in big bucks.

Why should non-profits consider underwriters for auction items?

Adding an underwriter for a major auction item, like a trip, gives you another chance to make inroads or strengthen ties to a local business community. For businesses who may not have the employee interest to buy a table or an easy-to-donate good or service, underwriting a trip gives them a chance to be in front of your donors and support a good cause. And it’s another chance for your auction staff to reach out and make contact with companies that could pay off either now or in the future. It also can provide another chance for a charity to reach out to a major donor – many underwriters come from the already-established ranks of supporters, looking for another way to help their favorite cause.

Also, while consignment selling (the model we use at Mitch-Stuart) is by nature “risk free,” having an underwriter in place to add to the bottom line can put some at ease. Instead of worrying about how much the bids are exceeding the cost of the trip, you can relax, knowing that the underwriter has taken care of the base price. In a way, having an underwriter is like having a trip donated; it turns the winning bid into pure profit.

Have questions about the underwriting process? Call or write to one of our Travel Experts today!


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Swiss Army Knife Destinations

May 10, 2017
Triple threats. Renaissance men or women. Swiss Army Knives. We have plenty of names for them, but they all come back to the same idea: People who are versatile, who have skillsets larger than one discipline.

We have Swiss Army Knives in fundraising auctions, too. Those are the items that can attract bids from anyone in the room, the types of lots that encourage activity from all corners. They can be the most lucrative, because of the number of aspirants, and certainly can be the most fun.

And often, they’re travel packages.

There are some locales in our catalog of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages that cater to so many different constituencies, they become indispensable auction items, the type that get everyone in the room involved. If you don’t have an idea in what your big-money donors are interested, or you just want a location sure to please the widest base of donors, consider one of these options.

Los Angeles: Even with all the high-minded literature and the sheer number of films made about the City of Angels, Steve Martin may be the one to get Los Angeles right in “LA Story,” when a character calls it “a place where they've taken a desert and turned it into their dreams.” The beaches to the west and the mountains inland, the bustle of downtown Los Angeles and the small town feel of Larchmont Village, the exhibits of newest museum The Broad and the silliness of the iconic Laugh Factory, downtown’s architecture and Elysian Park’s Los Angeles Dodgers: Any city the size of L.A. will have to contain multitudes.

Paris: The City of Lights is thought of often as the home of tremendous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. While that’s true, the city has a tremendous number of sides to show. Paris’ gourmand credibility has never been questioned, of course, and the cocktail renaissance is growing as well. It’s a home for culture, both high (the Louvre) and pop (the nightclubs of the city are commonly filled). And sports fans get to see one of the best soccer teams in Europe, Paris Saint-Germain, ply its trade.

New Orleans:
The city of Bourbon Street and the French Quarter is also the city of Frenchman Street, one of America’s hallowed grounds for jazz. It’s the capital of Creole cuisine, for the gumbo fans, and the birthplace of the Sazerac and the Hurricane. From an architectural standpoint, it’s a fascinating place, with examples of buildings and homes in nearly every major style since the 18th century. It’s a city that hosts three major festivals each year: Mardi Gras, the New Orleans Jazz Fest and Essence. And in the fall, the New Orleans goes crazy for the NFL and its Saints. No matter the donor or supporter, there’s always something to do in the Crescent City.


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New Destinations, New Adventures

May 01, 2017
The calendar keeps turning, and with it the seasons; we’re now in the midst of spring, which means at home it might be time for a cleaning. Here at Mitch-Stuart headquarters, though, instead of taking items to Goodwill, we find ourselves adding new trips to our Destinations of Excellence catalog. It’s our chance to refresh our offerings and make sure that we have the once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list-type experiences for which you donors will want to place the biggest bids.
 
What’s new at Mitch-Stuart?
  • If your donors have picked up a travel magazine in the last year, it’s likely they’ve seen an article about Reykjavik. The Icelandic capital came in second in one travel search engine’s list of most popular destinations, and one photo of the iconic Northern Lights will remind your supporters why.
  • Luxurious accommodations are the name of the game for our new trips to Belize, Sedona and Jackson Hole. Whether it’s taking in the beaches of the Caribbean/Central American gem,  off-roading in Red Rock Country, or going on a wildlife safari in Grand Teton National Park, your donors will return to top-notch luxury in the evening, balancing nature with pampering. 
  • Get local with attractions that can only be found in specific destinations. There’s only one Space Coast, and our newest trip to Cocoa Beach involves not just two-day admission to the Kennedy Space Center, but lunch with an actual astronaut. And ask any New Yorker: There’s only one city for the country’s best deli food, and we’ve got a tour of three of the best.
In addition, we’ve got brand-new options for Napa Valley (one involves a barn – really!), a cozy stay on the coast of Maine, a city-and-country combo in Canada and even a professional photo shoot with Paris a backdrop.
 
Want to find out more? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today! Give us a call at 800-574-9991 or send an email to info@mitchstuart.com
 

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