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Catalog Spotlight: Tours

November 29, 2017
Your donors who bid on our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages at your gala event likely have a loose itinerary in their mind for their trip. Maybe it’s a soccer fan, going to Barcelona to experience a game in the world-famous Camp Nou, or maybe it’s a jazz aficionado looking forward to a night out on Frenchman Street in New Orleans.

But it’s a rare traveler who has every moment of their vacations planned out. So to add to our trips, we’ve got tours.

One of our favorite add-ons to any travel package is a local tour, one that allows a visitor to see all that for which a city is famous. Our Destinations of Excellence catalog is filled with expert-led expeditions into the heart of what makes a place special – and that often includes a meal, a drink or another memory-making, multi-sensory experience.

Some of our favorites:

Barcelona: Tapas are perfect tour food; you can have a small plate at each establishment, and not feel stuffed by the end of the walk. It’s why our “Ensconce Yourself in Spanish Exclusivity” package comes with a gourmet tapas tour, to tempt tastebuds – and it even ends with a flamenco show!

We’ve already told you why Charleston makes a great winter destination, but our packages to the South Carolina gem include a bonus: A horse-drawn carriage tour through the city’s downtown district, focusing on history and the charm of Charleston’s mansions and gardens.

Chicago or New York: Deep dish or thin slice? Depending on your donors’ preferences, you can send them either on an Original Chicago Pizza Tour (with our “Leave a Pizza Your Heart in Chicago” package) or explore Greenwich Village on a pizza and beer tour.  Fun idea: Have the crowd vote on which pizza is better by email before the event, then sell the corresponding trip!

Champagne, France:
We’ve got tours of wineries in many of the world’s top vino-producing locales, but this one may be the most specialized. If your donor’s favorite part of any gala is a champagne toast, this might be the trip that moves him or her to bid big, thanks to tours of three different wineries in the varietal’s titular region.

Lexington, Kentucky: Your supporters can go behind the scenes at Churchill Downs, the home track of the Kentucky Derby, with a tour of an area horse farm. It’s a great way to catch up with the race’s history, while also perhaps seeing its future.

New Orleans: Jazz and Sazeracs reign supreme in the Big Easy, but for a different sort of fun, take the ghost and spirits walking tour included in our “Along the Mighty and Mysterious Mississippi” package. Going through the French Quarter, the tour is a fascinating change of pace for visitors both new and frequent.

Want more information on tours that come with our travel packages? Reach out to a consultant today!

Giving Tuesday is (Almost) Here!

November 22, 2017
In 2016, Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact processed more than $47 million in donations on Giving Tuesday. That’s a 20 percent increase from 2015. And the cut of that revenue going towards small and midsized organizations has increased year-over-year as well, meaning that more groups are getting involved in the unofficial charity holiday.

If you’re not raising money on Giving Tuesday, you may be leaving money on the table. It might be a little late to launch a full-fledged campaign for the 2017 edition, which is November 28, but there are still some ways to be involved.

First, and this should go without saying, reach out to donors. The holiday season gets busy, and even your most dedicated donors may not have your cause at the front of their minds. An event like this should be a part of your messaging leading up to the day. Just being open on Giving Tuesday won’t bring in anything.

Be specific. Asking generally for money on a specific day can feel a little hollow; what makes Giving Tuesday different, then? But if you look to garner donations for a specific reason – think fund-a-needs at galas, for instance – you can focus your donor’s attention and let them know exactly where the money is heading.

Be social. Every store on the planet seems to take out multiple advertisements for their Black Friday sales. Your cause is competing for eyeballs with that, and you don’t have the print budget to stuff a circular in every mailbox. So instead, reach out to influencers and supporters who are active on social media and see if they can boost your message through their networks.

Throwing a gala auction to match up with Giving Tuesday might be difficult (although we fully approve of holiday-season events, as we’ve mentioned before). But that doesn’t mean that your supporters can’t also win. Holding a raffle with the drawing happening on Giving Tuesday (maybe even streamed on your Facebook site?) can help grow interest, and doesn’t take the work of a full auction.

Finally, a big ask: This is a great date for which to try and get corporate matching funds. See if a major corporation would be willing to match donations dollar-for-dollar (even if it’s only to a certain limit). Knowing that their giving might be doubled can be a great motivator for supporters.

No matter how you approach Giving Tuesday, we hope that you hit all your fundraising goals as we round into this busy holiday season!

A Holiday Fundraiser? The Pros and Cons

November 15, 2017
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the carol says. We’re heading straight into the holiday season, when families gather, kids (and adults!) tear the wrapping paper off presents, and we gorge on massive meals.

But is it also a good time for your cause to throw a major gala fundraiser?

Having been in the business of selling non-profit fundraising auction travel packages on consignment for more than 20 years, we’ve worked with events that have taken place at any point on the calendar. If you’re considering having yours during this busy period, we’ve got some reasons why it could be the most wonderful time of the year for your non-profit, too.

Donors are in the mood to party!

November and December are often filled with invites to dinner parties, after-work get-togethers and gift exchanges. It’s a time of year that welcomes large gatherings, and throwing your fundraiser during this time period can tap into that energy. Your fundraiser can even be a time for supporters to bring together family members or friends, all in the sake of raising money for your cause, like a party inside a party!

December galas line up with year-end giving.

A 2014 study showed that almost a full 20 percent of giving happens in the month of December, and more than a third of it happens in the year’s last three months. Getting to see your donors face-to-face during that time can help garner bigger contributions (and auction bids). And using that factoid can help convince donors to “do their part” during a December fundraiser; those donations can come alongside auction bids for one record-setting evening.

Fundraising auction lots make great gifts.

Items like non-profit fundraising auction travel packages are highly “gift-able.” You can capitalize on the season of giving by offering items that your big-budget donors would like to give to family members or friends, and they’ll appreciate the opportunity to finish their holiday shopping by supporting an important cause. And with our Destinations of Excellence catalog offering trips around the world and tickets to major events, you can make sure that your biggest supporters have the perfect travel package as a present.

In the end, there’s no one prescription for when everyone should throw a gala fundraiser. But keeping in mind the pluses and pitfalls of the holiday season, and applying those thoughts directly to your audience of donors, can be the difference between a successful outing and one that raises less than the goal amount. And remember – there’s always spring, too!

Fly South For the Winter

November 08, 2017
Off-season travel can be a great way to get more out of a vacation. The crowds are thinner, reservations are easier to obtain, and unless the main activity is seasonal (think skiing in Colorado), there’s just as much to do.

One of our favorite off-season destinations is the American South, which technically is at its tourism low in the winter. But it can be hard to figure why; with moderate temperatures and the same great range of attractions, we think our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages only get better when utilized during the off-season.

Some examples:

Hilton Head - Your donors already likely associate this South Carolina island with golf. If you’re in a colder winter climate, you can help them associate it with the word “escape” as well; the average high temperature by month here never falls out of the 60s, and with less rain in November and December than almost any other month of the year, golfers can get out on the course during the months that their clubs usually reside in deep storage. Of course, the islands restaurant scene never closes, so those not into the “gorgeous walk, spoiled” will enjoy their time here, as well.

Charleston – January is the only month of the year during which the average high temperature of Charleston dips out of the 60s. With an average high pushing 90 degrees in the summer months, the city opens up in the winter; walking around and seeing the historic mansions doesn’t have to end with you drenched in sweat. And it’s also a perfect time to visit the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens – according to Conde Nast Traveler, there are up to 20,000 camellia blooms during this time in the oldest public garden in the United States.

New Orleans –
With an average high of 55 degrees, Crescent City can feel a little chilly in the winter, comparatively. However, the secret reason for heading to New Orleans during the winter is the precipitation; rain peaks in the summer here, and while October and November technically have the least number of rainy days, December and January (an average of 10 days of precipitation) are still much dryer than, say, July (15 days). Being able to stay dry – even if you have to wear a coat – makes the walkable streets and neighborhoods of New Orleans much easier to navigate. This is doubly so with our travel packages, many of which include walking tours or river cruises.

Holiday Travel Survival Guide

November 01, 2017
November is here, and that means that the holiday season is at hand. AAA says that 103 million people were expected to travel during the year-end holiday season last year, and another 48 million were set for the road on Thanksgiving. Odds are good that you or someone you know will be braving the roads or the skies at some point over the next two months.

Our non-profit fundraising travel auctions can be used throughout the year, but we’ve got a special place in our hearts for holiday travel. If you or your donors are thinking about getting on the road for the season, take these tips to heart to make sure and get the most out of your itinerary.

Give Yourself Time:
Going from the parking lot to the terminal. Getting through security. Everything seems to take just a little bit longer in the winter when it comes to travel. It might not make the kids happy, but giving yourself the full recommended two-hour buffer between arrival at the airport and takeoff can be the difference between catching and missing that flight. And if you’re driving anywhere, it’s needless to say that traffic can be a beast during the holiday season – build in some extra time.

Enjoy the Airport: Mechanical delays? Weather warnings? A quick layover in an airport can turn into a protracted visit in a hurry. The good news is that airport planners have taken steps to make your stay tolerable, if not downright fun. In Portland, that means a movie theater showing short films. In San Francisco, the “Wag Brigade” is a fleet of animals – mostly dogs, with LiLou the pig thrown in – for some pet therapy. And at many airports, local breweries and restauranteurs have taken the place of the formerly-ubiquitous McDonald’s and Starbucks outlets. If you’re stuck somewhere, the least you can be is full at the same time.

Watch the Weather:
Are you driving? According to American Automobile Association, more than 93 million people traveled via automobile during the December holiday season in 2016. If you want to be one of that number, remember that the luxury of car travel is flexibility; you’re not tied in to leaving on a certain date. So when that winter storm rolls in on your planned departure day, there’s nothing wrong with waiting it out. You’ll be safer waiting until after the snowplows have hit the highway.

Smile: This may be the toughest part. Travel can be extremely stressful and frustrating, especially with the complications that the holiday season brings. But keeping good humor about you will not only keep you sane, it can help your travels move faster; anyone who works in customer service will appreciate seeing a friendly face during a travel nightmare.