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Auctioneer Love

April 27, 2018
From the fundraising planning committee to the staff cleaning up after an event, every person in the process of throwing a gala auction or other event for a non-profit is important in his or her own way.
But this week, we want to turn our attention toward the auctioneers, those who keep the party going while making sure that you get the most out of your auction items. They’re also informal advisors, with years of knowledge in terms of what makes gala events work. And they’re great at working a room, as well, making everyone comfortable and encouraging big bids.
April 30 through May 5 is National Auctioneers Week, and to prep you for this celebration, we wanted to try to summarize all that the auctioneer does for you and your fundraising auction.
First, there’s the pre-auction planning. If you’re running a fundraising auction for the first time, reach out early in the process to an auctioneer for help. They’ve seen it all and can help guide your gala event towards its most profitable conclusion. And for those fundraising veterans, you’ve got a source with which to discuss what has worked for you in the past and what hasn’t, tweaking those small details that can be the difference between a good even and a great one.
Then, there’s the auction night itself. The auctioneer can have several different duties on the evening of the event; some may mingle in the audience, others may be better at storytelling from the stage, in either case talking up your cause to the assembled. A well-prepared auctioneer can be one of your organization’s most effective ambassadors.
Of course, next comes the main event. We mentioned before why auctioneers are essential hires, and this is when we see the full tool kit come out. Keeping the auction running smoothly, while driving up bids on auction lots, entertaining the audience and still pushing your non-profit’s message, simultaneously, is as much an art as a craft. That’s why it’s so important to bring a pro auctioneer into your planning as soon as possible; no matter how well-meaning the amateur, nothing really replaces the skills that a professional auctioneer has honed over years.
If possible, it can be a good idea to retain your auctioneer for a post-mortem, as well: What went well? What could improve for next year? An outside figure can be helpful in dispassionately critiquing your event and making sure that the next gala auction Is your best ever.
So thank you, auctioneers, for all that you do for non-profits and charities around the world!

Oh (My), Canada!

April 18, 2018
Canada is having a moment in the travel press. Whether it’s the beautiful spring weather, the strength of the American dollar against its Canadian counterpart, or its proximity to the states (meaning shorter flights), our neighbors to the north are hot right now. That means this might be the best season to offer one of our Canadian non-profit fundraising auction travel packages at your gala or raffle.

The good news: The Canadian adventures in our catalog run the gamut of reasons for travel. Great food in the midst of the coastal beauty of Vancouver? We’ve got that. The wide-open skies of Alberta? That one too. The history of Montreal? Absolutely.

Our trips to Canada can be broken down into three categories, defining what types of travel experiences your donors will find on the ground.

The Adventurer: Alberta

When the mountains are calling, there are few better destinations than the Canadian Rockies and Banff National Park. The natural beauty of the area shines throughout the year, whether it’s winter skiing or summer fishing and hiking. And the drive along the Trans-Canada Highway is one of the most gorgeous available in North America If your donors like to be active during their travels, this might be the best option.

The Urbanite: Quebec

Museums, historic chapels, a live music scene that birthed such superstar acts like Arcade Fire, a sprawling “underground city” to get visitors around downtown during the colder winter months, and so much more: Montreal packs a lot into its borders. It’s a city that adores its local heroes (look for the two building-sized Leonard Cohen murals) with a civic pride not always found in major metropolises, but also champions its upstarts, especially in its culinary scene. For donors who prefer to explore a city rather than the outdoors, Montreal will satisfy that particular wanderlust.

Half-and-Half: British Colombia

With the bustling Vancouver and the stunning beauty of Whistler just miles apart, one of our travel packages to British Columbia, on Canada’s western shore, will satisfy both the city-dweller and the outdoorsperson in each of us. Come for the skiing in Whistler, stay for the world-class arts of Vancouver and the charm of neighboring Victoria. The Canadian part of the Pacific Northwest contains a little bit of everything for your donors to do.

The VIP Experience

April 11, 2018
We love putting together fundraising auction non-profit travel packages for your organization’s gala event or raffle. And we have ideas to pair with any theme, want or need. But some of our favorite trips fall under a brand-new category in the catalog: VIP Experiences. Here, we combine wonderful destinations with one-of-a-kind experiences, like meet-and-greets (and even shared meals) with cast members of Broadway shows.

We’re adding more of these charity fundraising travel packages regularly, but the trips in the category share some of the same benefits to both your donors and your organization.

First, traveling for an experience, rather than needing to figure out a full itinerary from scratch, can take some stress away from the pre-trip planning. Getting a vacation set up, with all the reservations booked and tickets purchased, is enough work for a supposedly peaceful event. Having to track down the best experiences in the city just adds more to your donor’s plate. Instead, if they travel around a central idea, like a meal with some Broadway stars and tickets to see one of the Great White Way’s hottest shows, they know that the “main event,” so to speak, is already on the docket.

Secondly, with so many of these trips involving sold-out tickets or unavailable-to-the-public experiences, even those who love to have a heavy hand in planning can’t put together packages with some perks. Super Bowl tickets are a tough get in the best of conditions – and that’s before having to worry about possible frauds and ratcheted-up scalper costs. Other goodies, like post-show meet-and-greets, aren’t available to the average traveler. Sometimes, a VIP Experience travel package is simply the only way to get the access that your donors may want.

Finally, what if every time your supporters put on the “Hamilton” soundtrack, they thought of your non-profit? The donors interested in these VIP Experiences trips are likely big fans of the central show or event, meaning that they’ll hold on to memories from their vacation forever. And every time they think about their favorite musical, or any time they look at the autographed poster on the wall (cast posters are included in several of the packages), they’ll think of the charity that sent them on their adventures.

Interested in finding out more about our new VIP Experience packages? Reach out to us to get started!

Where’s My Wine?

April 04, 2018
Of all the classes of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages that we offer, one in particular stands out; donors really, really love trips that involve wineries.

It makes sense, too. Finding out more about a favorite wine (or discovering a new one) is like a lifetime souvenir from a trip. And it’s good for the non-profit, as well; every time that donor enjoys a sip of that “souvenir,” the memory will include the charity that helped set it up.

We love all the wine region trips in the catalog, but we understand that associating the region with the wine can be confusing. So, we’re taking a look at five destinations and talking about which vino is most associated with each area.

Napa Valley, one of the most popular destinations in our catalog, is likely the epicenter for American wine (even though places like Santa Barbara and the Willamette Valley may protest). And within that epicenter, the cabernet sauvignon grape may be king. Though the valley’s diversity in varietals is strong, the “cab sav” accounts for 40 percent of total production and 55 percent of crop value, according to the Napa Valley Welcome Center.

Some regions are so intertwined with their local wine that the latter takes the name of the former. So it is in the Champagne appellation of France, where the titular wine varietal has become a must-have celebration accoutrement around the world. Primarily made from a blend of three different grapes (pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay), champagne can only be made from grapes grown in this home area – if you’ve bought a “champagne” from another country, it is technically a sparkling wine.

In the Bordeaux region of France, winemakers have perfected the art of the blend. With some notable exceptions, the wines that come from Bordeaux tend to have a mix of grapes involved, depending on the winery. Those in the Left Bank (west of the Gironde estuary) tend to feature cabernet sauvignon, while those on the Right Bank love merlot and cabernet franc. If your donors can’t come up with one particular favorite varietal, then this might be the best region for them.

For pinot noir, there may be no better place on the planet than France’s Burgundy region. With an output tiny when compared to Bordeaux, these wines are often a bit more expensive, but the best expressions of the challenging, fragile grape are likely found here. Any bottle marked “Grand Cru” from here is likely to be both pricy and delicious.

The sangiovese grapes that help create chianti wine come from Tuscany. The region has its own “zone” within the larger Tuscan region, and it’s the largest of all the varietals. Maybe best known for being “that wine that comes in a wicker basket,” chianti is one of the most popular wines in America, meaning that your donors have likely paired one with great Italian food.

These wine regions are some of the most popular in our entire catalog. If you want to talk to us about how to incorporate a travel package into your non-profit fundraising auction, reach out to us.