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January 2019

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Winter Adventures

January 16, 2019
There are those, of course, who would huddle up in the face of a snowstorm. And there are those who would go outside and play.

If your donors largely consist of that second type, then they’ll have a type of winter getaway in mind when they attend your gala event. With our help, you can offer a trip that will scratch their itch for adrenaline, exercise, and the beauty of the outdoors during the season of snow.

First, there are the reliables. If you’ve got a donor pool of a larger size, there will be at least a few that trade their wingtips for ski boots come wintertime. Along with an assortment of destinations (we love Telluride, Lake Tahoe and Whistler/Vancouver, among others), think about supercharging these by pairing them with some new technology – maybe a small camera to record the runs, or a pair of heated gloves – and making an auction lot appeal to both hardcore skiers and tech dabblers.

While ice skating is a year-round endeavor, taking the blades outside is a particular winter treat. There is the iconic Rink at Rockefeller Center in New York, which shows up in so many holiday-themed episodes of television shows and movies (it stays open into the spring, however). In Chicago, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink is one of the latest-running, staying open well into March. And it’s not restricted to cold-weather cities, either: In Los Angeles, the Pershing Square Holiday Ice Rink stays open until late January. There’s something romantic about skating under the stars, then huddling together with a hot chocolate afterwards.

Sno-ga? It may need help with its name, but snow yoga has become a way to enjoy both the serenity and the trappings of the season for some yogis. Often reserved for specific retreats, but making its way onto amenity lists at resorts, snow yoga is exactly what it sounds like: A flow session out on (and, in some poses, in) the snow. It runs counter to what many imagine the practice to need, namely a warm-to-hot room to allow muscles to relax but stretching in colder temperatures can also be a tremendous help for the average skier, snowboarder or snowshoer, loosening them up for their runs.

For those who don’t think skiing or snowboarding is extreme enough, heli-skiing might be an option. Especially popular in a place like Whistler, the skiing hybrid is all about the terrain; participants are dropped off via helicopter in the mountains, with the goal being to find a place with no trail at all, then they carve their way down the untamed slope. Heli-skiing is a great way to combine true wilderness with adrenaline.

Travel Trends for 2019

January 09, 2019
At Mitch-Stuart, we all love and stand behind every trip in our Destinations of Excellence® catalog, of course, be it a weekend in Vegas or a week in Italy. But some trips, for one reason or another, just get “hot” at a certain moment. Sometimes, it’s a response to an outside stimulus, like when international trips start selling more because of a strong dollar. Other times, it’s about a generational shift, like recently as Millennials have hit their “Eat, Pray, Love” years and discovered Bali en masse.

Our crystal ball is still on back order, but we’ve got some ideas on what travel trends will be big in 2019. And big travel trends can translate directly to big dollars, if you offer the right corresponding trips at your non-profit fundraising auction.

The Caribbean is Open for Business – Hurricane Maria and other storms ran roughshod over islands in the Caribbean in 2017. But now, according to Forbes, those countries are opening their arms to tourists in a serious way. In addition, there are more flights coming out of America and landing on the islands than ever before, and many being added in markets outside of New York or Florida, meaning that more of the country has direct access to places like Jamaica is easier from some major cities.

Explore – Get outside! Another segment of travel that’s on an upswing is “exploratory” travel, trips taken by tourists for whom the guide book is a starting point, not a bible. That works in a couple of ways: There’s those who are looking for natural adventures, like those found in the rain forests of Costa Rica, and others who are looking for more of a “cultural” adventure, exploring unfamiliar cities, cuisine, spirits and entertainment. That means that trips with great local itineraries – winery tours, or foodie adventures – may be even more appealing to supporters this year.

The Bucket List: For your “Baby Boomer” donors, AARP has a suggestion; the non-profit with the aim of assisting seniors says that, in 2019, the Boomer generation will be focusing more on “bucket list” travel. According to the organization, Boomers were most likely than any generation surveyed to say that they wanted to check items off a bucket list, while Gen Xers and Millennials were more likely to be interested in other types of travel. For your older donors, that means trips to the Italian countryside, or maybe for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (like dining with cast members of a Broadway play, or going to the Super Bowl), might catch a little extra attention.

Bleisure: We’ve written about the combination of business and leisure travel before, and it’s continued to heat up. According to AARP, nearly 50 percent of Millennials will be looking to take an extra couple of days of vacation at the end of a business trip. For these “work hard, play hard” types, weekend trips are often great options; A weekday trip to Las Vegas for a convention can easily become a weekend trip with shows, dinners and other attractions – and instead of having to plan out their extra couple of days, why not give them a chance to support their favorite charity and set the weekend up all at once?

DNA Travel: DNA test kits have become ubiquitous, and they are spawning their fair share of overseas itineraries, according to Lonely Planet. If a donor has just found out that he or she is 50 percent Irish, maybe a trip to a castle in Ireland has an even greater interest. For those who want to trace multiple ancestries on one vacation, a voyage to Paris or Barcelona also means a connection to easy European travel between countries and the ability to trace multiple identities as far back as is possible.

Say Thanks!

January 02, 2019
It’s one of the first bits of manners our parents teach us as children; when someone else does something nice, you say “thank you.” And it’s one of the first lessons that any non-profit learns when it starts fundraising in earnest. Donors like to be thanked, and you like to remind them of that good feeling they got when they donated to your cause last time.

But is your organization thanking people in the best ways possible? And what are the best practices for saying “thank you”?

The first “myth” that Kathy Kingston of Kingston Auctions and our own Michael Upp debunked during their Mythbusters V seminar was the idea that saying thank you is enough. A form letter a couple of weeks later or, even worse, a pat on the back as the donor is leaving not only feels like an afterthought, but it does little to set your non-profit up to ask for more donations later on.

So, if those thank yous aren’t enough, how can you up your gratitude game?

First, it’s important to get thank-you notes out as soon as possible. The goal should be personalized notes, in the mail in 48 hours. This may take a lot of post-event hustle, but it’s exactly that effort that makes donors feel recognized and appreciated.

Also, pick up the phone! No matter what size a gift a supporter has left, a phone call is in order. Write up simple scripts for your board members to work with, then give them a list of names, numbers and amounts. Opening up this kind of dialogue not only establishes the donor as important, but also sets precedent if the board member ever needs to call again in the future to ask for a donation or to invite the supporter to a future event.

In fact, this being the beginning of 2019, it might be a good time to set up what could be described as a “gratitude plan” for the year. In this plan, make notes of when you’ll be sending out thanks, time periods to make phone calls, and who will be responsible for each. This way, the post-event work is more organized, leaving les of a chance that a supporter will be forgotten in all of the clean-up and stock-taking.

Showing gratitude to your supporters is more than a kindness. It’s also the type of relationship-building work that will reap rewards for your non-profit into the future. And it will make your parents proud, too.