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More Vendors, Less Work

April 22, 2015
There are seemingly a thousand moving parts when it comes to a non-profit fundraising event, from catering to theme selection, from invitations to decorating and from entertainment to auction set-up. Getting a gala off the ground and ready to entertain guests can be a tremendous amount of work.

Mitch-Stuart, Inc. certainly knows how to help provide your charity event with no-risk auction travel packages that can add the “wow” factor to any gala. But did you know that our network of partners can help make the burden of planning and pulling off a fundraiser easier in several other ways as well? One call to us can get the ball rolling on…

Filling out the auction list:
Obviously, we can send your donors on once-in-a-lifetime adventures from Boston to Bali, and to events like the Super Bowl or the Tony Awards. But our partners at Grandstand Sports and Memorabilia® can add more lots to your auction, with everything from sports gear to platinum record plaques and rare film items, signed and presented with certificates of authenticity.

Getting the biggest bids:
Yes, you can get a volunteer to act as auctioneer over the course of an evening. Yes, they can get to live out their dream of saying things like, “I see $500, I see $500, can I see six?” as quickly as possible. But if you do, you will be leaving money on the table. A good auctioneer is like a good emcee or host: You may be able to do without one, but you’ll notice their absence. For more, check out our blog post with reasons to hire a professional auctioneer.

Organizing the auction:
So you’ve got a list of items, you’ve got people who want to bid on those items and you’ve got someone to sell them. Who’s going to be in charge of collecting payments and distributing the items? Don’t make a volunteer sit in the back of the room with a credit card reader attached to an iPad, swiping cards and handing out envelopes with certificates. Leave that to a company like GiveSmart™, which along with mobile bidding (another item to incorporate into your auction with little effort!), also offers “check out” services. Allow winners to pay without standing in a long line at the end of the evening, and know immediately who has paid and who hasn’t.

Want more great tips on how to get help planning and running your gala auction? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. expert today!


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Winter is Coming

August 26, 2014
There’s a reason that the end of August is often referred to as the “dog days of summer,” and it’s not that people have overwhelming love for them like we do our pets. It’s hot across most of the country, kids are getting restless as school is approaching, and everything from the sports world to summer television seems to be saying, “talk to us again next month.”

In the non-profit world, however, many organizations spend August gearing up for fall fundraising, and in particular, yearly gala or auction events. That means reaching out to us to talk about partnering for including consignment travel packages to destinations around the world, but it also means thinking about what will be on the minds of donors come the fall.

Let us help: Snow.

Offering the right trips that will garner the most interest is an important part of putting together a charity auction, and we can help. For your donors who love winter wonderlands, here’s a small sampling of the type of vacations you can offer (risk-free to your organization, of course!) by partnering with Mitch-Stuart, Inc.

When thoughts turn to winter, the mind almost immediately conjures images of snow, be it on city streets or mountaintops. While the former condition may be as annoying as beautiful, a peak covered in snow is an opportunity for high speeds and downhill thrills. Whether in the Canadian Rockies, the American west or even the mountains of Vermont, skiers can bid on perfect winter vacations when your non-profit pairs with Mitch-Stuart on a nonprofit travel package or experience. Resorts like the Fairmont Chateau Whistler in British Columbia and the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe in Nevada are known for their luxury services for the indoorsy types, as well, with spa packages and great dining.

The winter also has its share of gift-giving holidays, including Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Shopping malls get extremely crowded and browsing on the Internet can be more difficult than browsing a store’s selection in person. Why not make a vacation out of the experience of finding that perfect present for a significant other, family member or even for the entire office? One of our most popular packages, the to-the-point-named “Shop ‘Til You Drop!”, combines four nights at The Plaza in New York City with a $2,000 shopping spree at either Bergdorf-Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue or Bloomingdale’s. Take the trip in December and revel in the splendor of a city preparing to celebrate the holidays, while crossing off errands from your to-do-when-I-get-home list.

When it’s time for those holidays, the stress levels increase. As families return to a home base, there’s cleaning and cooking to be done groceries to be bought and sets of “the nice dishes” to be broken out. Donors can skip every one of those steps by bringing the family aboard either a Celebrity Cruises or Royal Caribbean International cruise ship for a trip through the tranquil waters of the Caribbean or Bahamas. Guests aboard each are treated to gourmet meals and 24-hour room service (no more standing in front of the refrigerator, picking at leftover turkey) along with state-of-the-art fitness facilities to work off all that food. With the entire family aboard, your donor can even take his or her photo for next year’s holiday cards..
Skiing the Rockies
Bloomingdales
The Plaza New York
Celebrity Solstice, Virgin Islands


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Learning on the Road

August 19, 2014
In the next couple of weeks, kids will go back to school, picking up a bag full of textbooks on the first day to learn about everything from the founding of the United States to the creation of the world’s great works of art. They’ll be presented by teachers as words on the page, artifacts of history that have long since been left to the passage of time.

The National Mall
Lincoln Memorial
Gettysburg Battlefield
Louvre, Paris, France
But those seminal events, those works of art, that meaningful history, doesn’t have to be left behind. At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we put together charity auction travel packages for any number of different reasons: Relaxation, excitement, a change-of-pace or even an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But some of our favorite vacations involve opportunities for donors to bring their families along and make history come alive. Give your donors the gift of education with one of these great travel packages.

Washington, DC is a living, breathing civics classroom, and a trip there can give life to an otherwise dry subject. The National Mall is filled with museums (almost all Smithsonian institutions feature free admission) and monuments, but with a little advance planning, travelers can also see the halls of power as they operate today. Reaching out to the local representative’s office can produce anything from a Capitol Hill tour led by a staff member to gallery passes to watch the House or Senate in action. Especially worthy of attention: The tour of the monuments at night is breathtaking.

To go a little further back in American history, a trip to Gettysburg immerses the entire family in the Civil War. The turning point of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest of the war, and because of that the city was also the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address. Send a donor and his/her family here for bus tours, museums and reenactments. For when the history gets to be too much, visitors can retreat to the 30-acre nature reserve and relax.

Not all forms of history are about war, though. For those of a more artistic sensibility, Paris is one of the world’s leaders in galleries and art history, with museums like the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. One of our trips to the French capital includes half-day tours of each of those, plus the Centre George Pompidou, home of the Musee National d’Art Moderne, the largest modern art museum in Europe. Works of great historical significance to the world are located in each, including those by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Vincent van Gogh and, of course, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” It’s practically a full AP Art course masquerading as a city.


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Summer’s Last Hurrah

August 13, 2014
Shopping carts filled with pencils and folders, registration days and “What I Did During My Summer Vacation” reports: While parents everywhere get ready to send their children back to school, those kids are desperately trying to hold on to their last days of freedom and escape the onset of the school year.

Help them.

Mitch-Stuart, Inc., puts together great charity auction travel packages for any occasion and with any combination of family members. Sometimes, that means romantic getaways for parents, and other times it means event-based itineraries to awards shows or sporting events. But in August, many families are looking for one last, great adventure before the school year begins, the type of experience that will make the other kids on the bus jealous when junior recounts his/her summer exploits. Give your donors those opportunities with one of these trips.

Of course, when one thinks of trips for families, the first idea often involves Mickey Mouse. Whether it’s Disneyland in Southern California or Disney World in Orlando, adventures to either coast’s Magic Kingdom are fun for the whole family. For either, though, Mitch-Stuart can round out the trip with some great options. Our package to Anaheim also includes a trip to Knott’s Berry Farm and a dinner at Medieval Times, along with a suite for four as accommodations. If Florida is the choice, trips can include excursions to everything from SeaWorld to Universal Studios.

If neither California nor Florida are in the cards, though, Mitch-Stuart can still help send a donor and his or her family to any of 50 different waterparks in the country. Whether it’s one of the Great Wolf Lodge waterparks in destinations like Kansas City or the Pocono Mountains, or perhaps CoCo Key Water Resort in the Boston area, there is family-friendly fun in 22 different states and even Ontario, Canada to be had. Each park has its own signature slides and amusements, and each package also includes quad-room accommodations and breakfast buffets.

Of course, the simplest way of bidding adieu to the summer is to find a beach and spend those last days of freedom running through the sand. We’ve mentioned our beach trips on this blog before, but one in particular is worth highlighting: The family-friendly confines of an all-inclusive Palace Resort in Cancun. With clubs and lounges for kids, separate pools for youth and even nighttime movie screenings, there’s plenty to distract children from the upcoming school year – and with swim-up bars and pampering spas, there’s plenty to distract parents, too.
Disneyland
Seaworld
Great Wolf Parks
Palace Resort


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Getting Ready for the Fall

August 08, 2014
August is upon us, and the weather across much of the country is helping the month live up to the phrase “the dog days of summer.” But as heat drives people to the beach (or, at a minimum, to air conditioning), charity auction planners have to start thinking about the fall, to galas and fundraising events. What will be the trips and travel opportunities that will bring in the most revenue for a non-profit?

This time of year is a favorite of ours at Mitch-Stuart, Inc., because we get to help pair non-profits with great charity auction travel packages for the fall season. One of the questions we’re asked consistently is, “what’s popular right now?” At this time of year, here are some categories to think about when deciding what to offer to donors.

When it comes to fundraising packages, it is hard to go wrong during any season with offering trips to places like New York City, Napa Valley and Las Vegas. The Big Apple is popular at all times of year, to people from around the world (ask anyone who has ever been in Times Square!). Trip packages there include foodie adventures, shopping sprees and even tickets to attend the Tony Awards. For the oenophile, Napa Valley involves wine tours, along with culinary delights. And Las Vegas, the City of Sin, is exactly what one would expect: Bright, flashy, with big-name chefs, live entertainment and even year-round chances for golfers to get in a few swings.

When the fall comes around, families start thinking about places to go for the holidays, as well. Give your donors a chance to include their families with trips to a place like Disneyland, which includes a stay in a hotel suite big enough to give everyone a chance to spread out. For those who might be looking to get the family outside, a trip to Buena Vista, CO could be popular, as well; our package includes a full week for two adults and two kids on a dude ranch, for an all-inclusive adventure involving hot springs pools, hayrides and horseback riding.

Not everyone is a fan of the fall, of course – and certainly those in snowy climes may do some dreaming about being beachside as fall gives way to winter. Those planning for a gala later in the fall could do well by offering a sunny giveaway to the Caribbean. Whether it’s the thrill of a waterside casino in Aruba, a cruise with an ocean-view stateroom or the ease of an all-inclusive resort in St. Thomas, your donors will thank you for giving them the snowbird trip of a lifetime – and you’ll thank them for their generous contribution to your fundraising efforts!
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Get Creative! Fundraiser Locations You Haven’t Thought Of

June 04, 2013
“Been there, done that”.

The last thing you want your guests to say when you are hosting a non profit auction! And it all starts with the location. Here are some outside-of-the-hotel-ballroom options you might want to consider when hosting your next charity event.

That trendy place you’ve been meaning to go Why not raise money in a fun and low-key, “natural” atmosphere? If your donors and attendees are comfortable they may be inclined to spend a little more money than they planned, which isn’t a bad thing! Consider a hot club, restaurant or bar. Be sure to factor in the following:
  • Serve any “signature dishes” the restaurant might be famous for
  • If a bar has been around for a significant amount of time jump on its rich history, or if it’s known for serving a particular drink, it could be fun to let your attendees know about it
  • For a club, see if there’s a famous DJ or if this venue hosts a special jazz night or other genre of music-themed night
This can be a win-win situation for your fundraiser and the owner of any of these establishments. Explain to the owner that this could be a great PR opportunity for their business and the possibility of returning patrons is too good to pass up.

Lights! Camera! Action! Similar to hosting your fundraiser at a restaurant/bar/club, a local movie or legitimate theater will also benefit from a great PR opportunity. However, the additional benefit of holding something at a theater is the venue’s ability to advertise the event and sell tickets. Let your guests explore a stage where great plays have unfolded -- it never hurts to be in a place of grandeur.

Go “Old School” No, you’re not having your donors relive their senior year of college. Contact a local campus group that supports your organization’s cause. Coordinate with them to seek out an interesting on-campus location and give them a chance to also support the cause. This also encourages the next generation of philanthropists.

Where’s the most creative place you’ve ever been for a charity auction?


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