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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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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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Alternative Sun

March 08, 2017
For every vision of a beachside paradise, there’s someone who imagines trying to get the sand out of a bathing suit. For every cold drink, there’s a sunburn. And for every relaxing waterside read, there’s the specter of corralling the kids for the drive to the shore.

One of the reasons that Mitch-Stuart offers such a wide range of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages is because one size – or one destination – does not fit all. While many are drawn to our selection of beachside escapes, with trips to the Caribbean, Southern California and Hawaii, there are some who still want to get some sun without having to deal with the beach’s drawbacks. For those sand-averse donors and potential bidders, here are some alternative pathways to Vitamin D.

Why would one go into the ocean when one can float above it? Cruises combine the sun and relaxation of a beachside vacation with the creature comforts not always accessible along the surf.  Whether it’s sailing between islands in the Caribbean or navigating the Mediterranean Sea, riding a modern ship gives donors access to the best sunbathing, while also allowing for gourmet meals. And if a small taste of beach time is desired, there’s always a chance to get some sand in one’s shoes when disembarking at one of the ports of call.

Neon isn’t the only light that can be found in Las Vegas, and visitors get to soak up that Vitamin D in multiple ways. The resorts of the city have a tremendous network of pools, each catering to a different taste; some of them are non-stop party scenes (“daylife” as it’s called in Sin City), while others are more relaxing and meditative. But what doesn’t get as much attention is the number of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts within a small drive of the Strip. Hiking through Red Rock Canyon is a favorite pastime of the sporty Vegas resident, and Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon are each comfortable day trips. The best part: After a day outside, your donors can soak their feet and get a massage at one of the city’s many spas.

Finally, if there’s anything more relaxing than sitting by the pool, taking in the sun, it’s receiving a massage at the same time. Many luxury resorts offer poolside spa services, allowing visitors to get outside and find their bliss simultaneously; the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, for instance, has an adults-only pool and group exercise activities in the natural light of the resort’s atrium, along with a spa-only menu of healthy cuisine served poolside. Combining Vitamin D therapy with wellness programs gives guests a stress-free glow – maybe the best souvenir to bring back to the real world.


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Eye-Catching Hotels

March 01, 2017
It can be easy, when thinking about beaches in far-flung places and tickets to glitzy events, to remember that the first question any of your donors will be asked about their fundraising auction travel package will be, “where are you staying?” Even in the most attraction-filled destination, travelers spend a plurality of their time in the hotel – much of it asleep, sure, but it’s also the respite from the craziness that travel can bring. And sometimes, that home-away-from-home carries as big a name as the nicest restaurant or most exotic location.

Whether it’s the tickets to the big game or the transfer to or from the airport, Mitch-Stuart gives attention to every detail of its non-profit fundraising auction travel packages. That’s especially true of where your supporters will be staying at the destination, and it’s why we deal with some of the highest-rated hotels in the world. But there are three names in particular from our catalog that stand out even to the less-experienced traveler, iconic hotels that have the type of reputations you can use to help drive up bids.

It’s hard to visit Los Angeles and not set foot somewhere that’s been used as a location for a film, of course, but the Beverly Wilshire is iconic for its place in silver screen lore. “Pretty Woman,” “Beverly Hills Cop” and even the television show “Entourage” have called the hotel home, and after the cameras have stopped, stars like Elvis Presley and Warren Beatty have lived in between its walls for extended periods. And along with its stature, the hotel is home to a top-of-the-line spa (a recent recipient of the Forbes Five Star award, in fact) and a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, along with being a short walk from the shops of Rodeo Drive.

In London, the first-ever luxury hotel still may be the best. The Savoy Hotel opened in 1889, with of-the-time extravagances like electricity and hot and cold water in each room. Needless to say, the industry standard has upped a bit, but The Savoy has more than kept up; a renovation estimated at more than $300 million took place between 2007 and 2010. The result, according to most who have been, is old world elegance and service, but with the amenities the modern traveler requires. Of special notice: Afternoon tea in the hotel’s Thames Foyer is a must-do (and included in our “Stay at the Most Iconic London Hotel – The Savoy” package).

But ask anyone on the street for the name of a famous luxury hotel, and the first response is most likely to be The Plaza. The New York landmark has 110 years of history, including being namedropped in iconic literature like “The Great Gatsby” and appearing in “Annie Hall.” It also may be one of the most accidentally-photographed hotels in the world; its address makes it a dramatic backdrop for the beauty of neighboring Central Park. It even became the name of a major international treaty: the Plaza Accord, which dealt with currency rates, was signed there in 1985.


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More Than a Game

February 01, 2017
On Sunday, the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons will face off in Super Bowl 51, to a television audience in the nine figures, along with more than 70,000 in-person spectators. The entire week leading up to the game, football will be inescapable, with the NFL Experience fan zone already underway and overwhelming media coverage clogging every outlet. It doesn’t sound like a place for the non-football fan to go.

However, it turns out that the attention of the sports world focused on one city becomes quite a magnet. While the week’s festivities may be leading up to the big game on Sunday, the array of music, food and revelry on offer goes far beyond football.

Mitch-Stuart is proud to offer a trip to the Super Bowl as one of its non-profit fundraising auction trip packages. Our “Winner Takes All at the 2018 Super Bowl” trip includes four days and three nights in Minneapolis for next year’s championship game, and while football will be the focus of the outing (thanks to two tickets to the game), there’s plenty more to do wherever the Super Bowl is taking place.

How do you fill your non-stadium time? How about…

The Parties: Wherever the Super Bowl goes, exclusive soirees usually follow, with celebrities and open bars aplenty. But not every get-together in the lead up to the game is guest-list dependent. This weekend, for instance, the Big Texas Party (with barbecue, local beers and celebrity guest appearances) will draw both the pigskin addict and the food fan, while raising funds for local charities. Between benefit brunches and late-night revelry, it’s possible to attend a party at the Super Bowl morning, noon and night for almost a full week.

The Music: The jocks and the band kids may not have mingled much in high school, but it’s no longer a Super Bowl without a list of major concerts. Musicians from around the world descend on host cities to play for large audiences (and in some cases, large appearance fees paid by brands anxious for the publicity). This weekend, acts like Solange, Leon Bridges and ZZ Top will all play for free at the Discovery Green in Houston. And for those with some contacts and some favors to call in, invite-only shows are a Super Bowl weekend tradition; Taylor Swift will be playing this weekend at the DirecTV party, a celebration that has, in the past, played host to Dave Matthews and Jay Z, among others.

The Food: Super Bowl host cities are almost always hubs of foodie culture. That’s more an accident of location and size than a planned correlation, of course; any event that goes to places like New Orleans on a regular basis has to incorporate local cuisine in some way. But the NFL has made sure to draw culinary influences in from around the country; the yearly Taste of the NFL event brings together more than 40 of the nation’s top chefs, with at least one from each city with an NFL team. It’s a way of letting your tastebuds travel the country, all in one place – and, for one year, without the goopy queso dip at your friend’s Super Bowl party.


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The Rise of Bleisure

January 25, 2017
Type “bleisure travel” into Google, and the search engine may try to correct your spelling. It is not a graceful portmanteau, and in a way it represents the exact opposite of its meaning: Business travel that is either expanded for or planned to include leisure travel elements (in the combined word, it looks like it’s the business that’s tacked on).

For donors who might not feel they have time to take a “full,” week-long vacation, offering them a chance for a weekend stay in a city in which they may already be working combines convenience with relaxation, and makes them active participants in any non-profit fundraising auction. If, instead of planning work around a weekend away, your supporters can simply skip the return flight and have some unencumbered fun in a new city, it may inspire more of your gala attendees to consider bidding on a travel package (and more bidders often means a higher closing price).

Want to offer some of your donors a chance to extend those business trips? Here are some thoughts on how to capitalize on the trend.

A Weekend Away:
Bleisure travelers are different than the regular business travelers, who are often ready to come home immediately after finishing their work (if not sooner). But even if the business traveler does want some extra time to explore a city, they’ll have already been away from home for a few days. A weekend trip makes perfect sense: Work for a couple of days, then spend a couple more days having fun.

Cities to Consider: If you’ve got some donors who may be interested in bleisure travel, then picking the right destination is important. While we adore destinations like Bali and the French countryside, your donors may not be taking too many meetings during poolside yoga sessions or winery tours. Places like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, of course, are common destinations for business travel, while Las Vegas may be the convention capital of the world.

Evergreen Events: Some of our travel packages are notable for taking donors to our Destinations of Excellence™. Others find their biggest value in tickets for specific events, like the Super Bowl or an awards show. But if you want to attract bleisure donors, make sure your trip has access to a tremendous attraction that happens year-round. Think, for instance, about a trip with a food or beverage tour (like the pizza tour that comes with the “Leave a Pizza Your Heart in Chicago”), or maybe one with a round of golf or two included. A trip that works for business travelers is one that they can use no matter when work calls.


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Guest Post: Take a Chance on a Raffle!

June 29, 2016
(NOTE: On occasion, we love reaching out to our friends and partners in the non-profit fundraising world to find out what theyre thinking about when it comes to helping charities raise the most money possible. This week, Kelly Russell tells us about a recent experience running a raffle using a Mitch-Stuart travel package as the prize. Enjoy!)

A client of mine wanted to offer a Golden Ticket Raffle at their event without losing one of their live auction items. They tried something unique that worked well. They chose eight consignment packages from Mitch-Stuart, Inc. as options, and allowed the winner to select any one of the eight amazing vacations. We had a few great outcomes to our evening.

It expedited our timeline at the top of the auction.

Once we declared the winner of the Golden Ticket Raffle, we did not have to wait for the winner to rifle through the catalog to determine what they wanted to take out of the live auction line-up. They had the entire night to think about which location would make for their dream vacation.

The variety added interest.

With all the options, many people were interested in taking their chance in the raffle. If you won, you were going somewhere great. MSI has a wonderful selection of packages and many include airfare so you get a complete experience. This adds to the interest factor.

Dedicated packages allow for pre-sales on raffle tickets to guests.

Nothing is worse than not being able to attend your childs school auction when you go EVERY year. With a set raffle selection, you are at least offering the opportunity to participate in absentia. Bonus: If you have a limited number of tickets to sell in your raffle, as well as a limited number of attendees at your event, pre-sales broaden your donor base.

Gamble with a new idea and see how it works at your next fundraiser!

Need a great consignment package for your next event? Let the folks at Mitch-Stuart, Inc. know that Kelly Russell at Artisan Auctions sent you!

(Big thanks to Kelly Russell and Artisan Auctions for sharing this with us! For more information about Artisan, go to artisanauctions.com.)


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Luxurious Travel for Mom

May 04, 2016
Mom. She gave you so much while, in many cases, sacrificing her own desires. Each year, we set aside a day to celebrate the mothers in our lives, and give them gifts of gratitude. And while most mothers are happy with a brunch and a scented candle, doesnt it feel like we can do more?

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we love it when donors win our fundraising auction travel packages as presents for others. Whether its a graduation adventure, a birthday gift or a special anniversary getaway, we think that travel is one of the worlds greatest experiences and, therefore, one of the worlds most meaningful gifts. Some of our Destinations of Excellence can act as perfect getaways for moms, as well, giving them the chance to relax in the arms of luxury.


If mom has a taste for the finer things (or if your donors want to give her that taste), there are few cities more attuned to the luxurious lifestyle than New York. And while we have several trips to Big Apple, one of our favorites is the Exquisite New York Dazzles Like Never Before package. The adventure includes a stay at The Plaza, the world-famous hotel located right off of Central Park, in a Rose Suite, with a separate sitting room and a marble wet bar. But the biggest highlight may be the $1,000 gift card to Tiffany & Co., perfect to pick up that special necklace, pair of earrings or ring.


Does mom have a sweet tooth? If so, maybe San Francisco is the destination for her. The city by the Bay is known as a tech industry hub, as a place with stunning views and fantastic seafood. But its also the home of Ghirardelli Chocolate Company and on our San Francisco Sweet and Savory trip, mom can go on an Ultra Chocolate Tour, featuring seven tastings and even some wine and cocktail pairings! That adventure also includes a stay in a suite at The Fairmont San Francisco, with its unparalleled view of the city from the top of Nob Hill.


Of course, there are few cities on the planet more closely tied with luxurious indulgence than Paris. From its bustling caf culture to its rich cuisine, the City of Light is a place for relaxation, for letting loose and for enjoying high-end experiences of extravagance. Our Royal Parisian Palace package features a hands-on cooking course at one of the citys top schools, a lunch at 58 Tour Eiffel in the Eiffel Tower and even a cruise along the River Seine. Its capped off with accommodations at Le Littre, right on the Left Bank and a short distance away from Champs-Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe.

The Plaza New York

Ghirardelli San Francisco

L'Atelier des Sens

Eiffel Tower at Night


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Beyond the Slopes

January 27, 2016
For some, skiing is the most thrilling activity imaginable on two planks of wood: The speed, the adrenaline, the rush of careening down a mountainside with the wind whizzing past. For others, it seems like the easiest way to book a vacation in a local emergency room.

Offering a ski-themed fundraising auction travel package can make a lot of sense for organizations, especially those based in warmer climates. But if you want to widen your trips appeal, make sure to point out the non-skiing based fun that can be had in many of our favorite winter wonderlands.

In Colorado, the Rocky Mountains attract bicyclists throughout the summer months, taking to the hills in search of good workouts and downhill sprints. But just because the winter months bring snow to the ski runs doesnt mean that bicyclists have to hang up their helmets. Visitors to the city of Telluride, for instance, can take the Telluride Brewing Company Tour, with a fat tire bike tour of the surrounding valleys floor, finishing with a tasting at the titular brewery. The wider-than-normal tires grip the ground better, meaning increased traction and safety in even the most treacherous of conditions. The tour is a beautiful way to enjoy the bracing cold of the season, then immediately warm up with a pint of beer.

Weve written at length about the reasons that Jackson Hole makes for a great getaway, but one of our favorite options for vacations during the Wyoming winter is a cold-weather safari. Local tour guides take visitors out into places like the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park, looking for everything from waterfowl to wolves. And with the guide doing the driving, everyone on the vacation can relax and sightsee, rather than one unlucky person having to drive. Bonus: No trip photo may beat that of a donor, standing out on the Antelope Flats, with mountains in the background and bison or other animals roaming nearby.

For those who still want to strap something to their feet, a trip to Whistler may be in order, where the infrastructure left in place from the 2010 Winter Olympics has created a surplus of ice rinks upon which to skate. Pose for group photos on the surface of the rink in the Olympic Plaza, for instance, with the five rings of the Olympic Games still standing in the background, or head indoors to the Meadow Park Sports Centre to find an NHL-sized sheet of ice and instructors ready to help teach neophytes. And if being out in nature is a priority, the Whistler area has a number of lakes that, during the winter, freeze over enough to support skaters (check local safety guides, of course). Skating in circles, with the gorgeous backdrop of British Columbia, can be every bit as satisfying as speeding down a mountain.
Telluride
 
Grand Teton National Park
 
Fairmont Chateau Whistler


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Giving Tuesday: How We Can Help

November 04, 2015
First, it was Black Friday, the traditional first day of the Christmas holiday season, taking place the day after (and, increasingly, the day of) Thanksgiving. Then, Cyber Monday became a way for people returning to work to procrastinate on the following Monday by looking at deep discounts from online retailers. Soon after, to counteract the marketing power of major chain stores, there was Small Business Saturday, to promote local concerns.

And now, to help Americans remember the thousands of worthy and important non-profits that rely on donations, theres Giving Tuesday, which falls on December 1 in 2015. After the first days of holiday spending are finished, a day is reserved for lending a hand to those who help in local communities and across the nation. Its both a celebration and, if used properly, a chance to kick-start the end-of-year fundraising drives. More than $50 million was raised on the day in 2014, according to several of the major non-profit sector donation processors.

At Mitch-Stuart, were best known for our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages, which charities can offer on a consignment basis during galas and other events. But there are ways to utilize these money-raising tools on Giving Tuesday, as well, that will both make a donors once-in-a-lifetime travel dreams come true and bring in a chunk of change to be used to fund good works.

One of our most recent programs can make Giving Tuesday fundraising a breeze. By setting up a Mitch-Stuart Travel Raffle, you can give your donors a chance to buy tickets, in many cases online (where permitted by local laws), for a chance to win a fantastic trip package. Organizations can make it a one-day frenzy, where tickets are only available on Giving Tuesday itself, or they can sell tickets for weeks in advance and do the drawing on December 1. Either way, using the extra publicity of Giving Tuesday to help promote the raffle can lead to more tickets sold and more funds raised, all without planning and executing a gala or event.

Of course, with Giving Tuesday in such close proximity to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many potential donors may still be in purchase mode. If youve got a list of big supporters that you think may be interested in buying individual trips, we can work with your organization to offer a Mitch-Stuart travel package at a buy it now price. It allows the donors to take the guesswork out of how much theyll have to pay for that weekend trip to the beach or once-in-a-lifetime adventure, while also allowing you to piggyback on the season with a more traditional shopping experience.

A Giving Tuesday promotion doesnt have to end on that specific day, either. If your organization has an upcoming gala or major fundraising event, you can make December 1 the official first day of ticket sales, too, getting an extra signal boost from the pseudo-holiday. And if youre planning on offering Mitch-Stuart travel packages at that future event, you can also utilize some of our promotional collateral available for each individual trip.

Want to pump up your Giving Tuesday fundraising? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today!
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Vacations for Ghost Hunters

October 28, 2015
The Halloween season is a time for frights, be they on the big screen, the trick part of trick-or-treating or the unholy abomination that is budget candy corn. For people who are big into the holiday, though, it is also a time to get on the road and check out some of the spookiest sites in the world. Some of those attractions are manmade, like the events we profiled last year. But others stem from a combination of tragedy and a certain suspension of disbelief that can make people believe they are seeing ghosts.


Mitch-Stuart doesnt feature any specific ghost-hunting trips in our catalog of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages. However, several of our Destinations of Excellence can also act as home bases for those looking for restless spirits. For those looking for the scariest of Halloweens, one of these places might be hospitable.

It was an opera house in Paris that once housed a phantom in its basement, so it should be no surprise that the City of Lights has its share of haunted tales. The citys catacombs are one destination for ghost hunters, with the remains of more than six millions Parisians there, often arraigned into macabre art. The Red Man of the Tuileries, a notorious hitman for the royalty in the 16th century, is said to still patrol the Louvre, and even the Paris Opera, the setting for fictional Phantom of the Opera, has a real-life ghostly visitor in the form of a love-struck woman, just outside its doors.

A little closer to home, the spirit of Hollywood pervades much of Los Angeles. But the spirits of Hollywood can be found at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, across from the TCL Chinese Theater (and the famous sidewalk handprints). A mirror there that used to hang in the suite of Marilyn Monroe supposedly shows the reflection of a blonde woman in the background, while Montgomery Clift (of From Here to Eternity and Judgment at Nuremberg fame) is said to walk the ninth floor. The stories are so woven into the fabric of the building that the hotels website used to have a section devoted to the tales.

Even places considered to be bright slices of paradise can find themselves possessed by spirits. Honolulu doesnt seem like the type of place that would be ghost-friendly, but residents claim that it has its own history with the supernatural, in locations like the Old Waialae Drive-In Theater (located close to a cemetery, and said to have been visited by a faceless woman haunting the restroom), the 16th Avenue bridge (site of a hit-and-run, the victim of which still appears to some) and even the Green Lady, an apparition who has been spotted everywhere from Scotland to New England.

Want to send your donors on a wild ghost chase? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today!
Louvre, Paris, France
 
Paris Opera House
 
TCL Chinese Theater
 
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell at Chinese Theater


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Whats New for the Winter

October 21, 2015
Throughout the year, the staff of travel experts at Mitch-Stuart is busy setting up organizations with opportunities to raise funds using auction travel packages for non-profits. But during down moments, those same people are scouring the world, looking for bigger deals, interesting destinations and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

(Yeah theyre busy folks.)


For the October update of the Destinations of Excellence catalog, weve put together a plethora of new travel packages. Some go to our favorite spots, with new options. Others expand our footprint to new areas. But each one can help your charity bring even more money through a gala auction or a fundraising auction.

Some highlights:

One of the biggest updates to our catalog for the winter comes in lodging capacity. Weve expanded our villas and residencies offerings to offer more trips with larger living spaces. Send up to six people to Aspen, for instance, and stay in a three-bedroom residence at the North of Nell, right at the base of Aspen Mountain. Send a supporter and three family members or friends to a Tuscan villa, a luxury residence in Los Cabos, or even a two-bedroom residence in London. There are now more opportunities than ever to give your donors a chance to bring the entire family on vacation, organize a guys-or-girls getaway, or partake in any other group travel outing.

Of course, the winter catalog is always a great place to look to find trips that give donors a chance to sample the seasons charms. Whether its ski-in/ski-out mountain access in Park City and Deer Valley, Utah or snowmobiling and winter wildlife in Jackson Hole, even the most committed summer lovers will find reasons to head into the beauty of the winter snow.

Weve spoken at length before about why now is the best time to travel to Europe, and weve added three more opportunities to do just that. An arts tour of the French Rivera, a ride on the London Eye and a trip to the Van Gogh Museum are great reasons to head to Monaco, London and Amsterdam, respectively, and each package can bring in big bids to your fundraising auction.

Some of your donors may want to escape the winters chill a little closer to home, as well, which is why weve added golf adventures in San Diego, California and Scottsdale, Arizona, along with trips to the charming Asheville, North Carolina and the always-temperate St. Helena, California, near Napa Valley.

Want to check out all we have to offer? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. travel expert to talk about our new options, or register for online access to our catalog today!
Los Cabos Villa
 
Hyatt Escala Lodge at Park City
 
Napa Valley Cabin
 
Fairmont Grand Del Mar


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Getting Off the Boat

September 16, 2015
There are plenty of reasons that travelers enjoy cruises: The open waters, the beautiful views, the amazing amenities. Theres so much to do on a modern ship that it can be hard to remember that these cruises also visit spectacular ports of call, all around the world.

We love setting up donors with non-profit fundraising auction travel packages that take them out onto the open seas. But what often catches our eyes when it comes to selecting cruises is not just the boat itself, or its amazing cuisine, but what opportunities there are for travelers to leave. Excursions are often considered optional by cruise lines, but theyre required to make the most of an adventure. Some of our favorites:

Standing on observation decks stories above the ocean is a great way to travel, but sometimes people want to get down into the water itself. Its icing on the cake if that water happens to be the Mediterranean Sea, and if the way to get to it is through a beach on Crete, or the red and black sand beaches of Santorini. Yes, the Savor the Majestic Mediterranean trip package involves plenty of amenities on its own, but adding some beach time on one of the jewels of Southern Europe can only result in happy donors.

Not every excursion needs to be water-based, of course. Swimming in the North Atlantic Ocean while cruising between Boston and Nova Scotia might be a bit cold for most, so your donors can stay dry and consider one of the trips walking tours. The best way to learn a new city is very often pounding the pavement, and trips through Bar Harbor, Maine and Saint John, New Brunswick will introduce travelers to the unique architecture and vibe of each destination. And if the walking gets to be too much, supporters can let horses do it, on a wagon city tour of Portland, Maine.

Of course, the most all-encompassing excursion might come with our cruise packages to the Bahamas, where Royal Caribbean has literally set up its own island. Meet Little Stirrup Cay or as it is now known, CocoCay. With snorkeling, swimming, parasailing and waverunner rides available to passengers, this miniature (less than a mile wide and only about 200 yards long) isle combines the curated experiences of a planned vacation with the adventure of regular off-ship adventures. It even has activities for the kids, as well, including Caylanas Aqua Park, a floating playground.
Cruise
 
Cruise
 
Celebrity Solstice
 
Coco Cay


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Falling For Travel

September 09, 2015
Kids are back in school, work is picking up and the holidays are not far off. It can be tough to clear a few days in the months of September or October to hit the road, especially for people who are either just coming off of a summer vacation or are planning to travel for Thanksgiving or Christmas. But traveling in the fall has plenty of benefits, including less-crowded destinations, great weather, and the colors that only occurs with the change of seasons.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., weve got fundraising auction travel packages for every season. Caribbean beach vacations make great summer getaways (or snowbird escapes for the winter), and the Rocky Mountains are perfect for winter skiing excitement, but we never want to neglect the fall especially for those non-profits with galas during that time. Want to offer a great of-the-moment travel opportunity? Read on.

One of the first thoughts that many have when it comes to fall travel is New England. The tradition of leaf peeping, or visiting the northeastern states to see the leaves on the trees changing colors, has been around for decades and is an economic boon to the region; the picturesque vistas created by the season bring more than 2.5 million visitors to New England every fall, according to Boston Magazine. Our Boston-area trips, like The Best of Boston Revealed, make for excellent home bases to discover the fall foliage.

If seeing the seasons change in just one location seems limiting, donors can take in the views from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, as well. With stops in Boston, cities in Maine and the east coast of Canada, supporters can sit back and allow the captain to show the way to the most serene sights of fall. The Voyage Through the Vast Waters of the Atlantic trip package may be the way to cover the most ground from the epicenter of the season and when the day is over and the leaves have been peeped, donors can retreat to a veranda stateroom, 24-hour room service and daily entertainment.

The eastern seaboard doesnt have a monopoly on gorgeous fall weather and scenery, though. The Pacific Northwest can be a stunning region to visit in September and October, especially for donors who dont mind a little (or a lot of) rain. Whether its a trip to Washingtons Snoqualmie Falls with our Raise a Toast to the Pacific Northwest package or walking around Vancouvers Stanley Park (which, at more than 1,000 acres, is larger than New Yorks Central Park) while on our Sensational Seattle and Vivacious Vancouver journey, therell be plenty of gorgeous sights. The sheer number of trees changing color may be smaller than in the northeast, thanks to the prominence of evergreens, but mixing in aspens and birches make for a rainbow of natural hues.
Boston, MA
 
Nova Scotia
 
Nova Scotia
 
Snoqualmie Falls


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Labor Day: The Underrated Travel Holiday

August 26, 2015
Everyone loves Memorial Day. The final Monday in May marks the unofficial beginning of summer, and is one of the busiest travel holidays of the year; AAA estimated that more than 37 million Americans would use the three-day weekend as a chance to get out of town, while the U.S. Travel Association estimated that those travelers would spend more than $12.3 billion on their trips.

But the unofficial end of summer rarely sees such numbers and, accordingly, such hype. With families concentrated on getting school-ready and everyone else nursing sunburns, Labor Day is often used as a three-day breather before heading into the fall.

But it doesnt have to be that way.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we specialize in sending your organizations donors and supporters on once-in-a-lifetime trips with our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages. That includes trips to celebrate Memorial Day, July 4th and even Thanksgiving or Christmas in far-flung locales. But we also love giving your donors the chance to win a summer send-off trip, a weekend away to gather thoughts and prepare for the upcoming seasonal shift. If youd like to offer such an opportunity to your supporters, may we suggest

Washington, DC? By the beginning of September, the worst of the summer humidity is over but the winter chill hasnt set in yet. Its a perfect time to walk around the monuments, catch a baseball game at the gorgeous Nationals Park or visit the Smithsonian museums. Even better, the DC area is home to several Labor Day events, including the free Labor Day Capitol Concert, which takes place on the lawn of the United States Capitol.

Napa or Sonoma Valley? Harvest season is in full swing by Labor Day, and the local wineries often have season-exclusive events that occur during prime picking time. Gatherings like the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend involve winemaker lunches, barbecues and the signature Taste of Sonoma event, with more than 200 wineries pouring thousands of wines. Its a great weekend adventure for parents looking for one last 72 hours of sanity before the fall begins.

Colorado?
Most people think of the Rocky Mountain State as a fantastic winter skiing destination, but those slopes also make for great hiking and mountain biking during the summer. Cities like Aspen and Telluride live the outdoor life year-round, but are much less crowded when theres grass on the ground rather than snow. Without skiing to draw people to town, many of these cities also offer more cultural events; Jazz Aspen Snowmass, for instance, is a three-day musical wonderland, this year featuring acts like indie rock favorite Hozier, disco kings Chic and even the Count Basie Orchestra.
Washington DC
 
United States Capitol
 
Napa Valley Sign
 
Telluride, CO


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Privacy, Please!

August 18, 2015
Most people love going on vacation, but thats not to say there arent annoyances that pop up while on the road. Whether its long security lines at the airport, navigating a foreign city in a different language or trying to squeeze one more stop into an already-packed itinerary, travel has its share of inconveniences. One of the biggest of those challenges is waiting in long lines at popular tourist destinations around the globe, sweating or shivering on a sidewalk while trying to get into an exhibit, a restaurant or a monument.

The good news: No matter how popular a destination, Mitch-Stuart can help. Our fundraising auction travel packages take donors around the world, of course, but they can also help supporters skip the lines for unique, private experiences in some of our favorite cities.

Some examples:

While the types of resorts with which Mitch-Stuart deal with arent the sort to have thin walls or other inconveniences associated with over-crowding, travelers still find it nice to be staying on their own on occasion. In two of our favorite international destinations, that privacy is also given a luxurious upgrade. The Under the Tuscan Sun package comes with a seven-night stay in a stunning, five-bedroom private villa in a restored 16th century Italian manor, along with a private driver and even one evening with a private chef. In Southeast Asia, meanwhile, the Balis Breathtaking Beauty package includes seven nights at the Bali Double V Villa, with three bedrooms and a private pool.

Getting away from crowds isnt just for retiring for the evening, either. Anyone who has ever stood in a long line at a tourist attraction knows that long wait times can cut into not just the enjoyment of the sight being seen, but also curb the number of sights that can be seen. In a city like Paris, it can be tough to escape the mobs of visitors unless traveling on one of our trips to the City of Lights. We can send your supporters on private, evening tours of the Louvre, led by guides who can transform a simple walk around an exhibit into an engrossing history lesson, all while checking out the works of da Vinci, sculptures from Greece and Rome and even early Egyptian art. For those more interested in getting outside, a private nighttime tour of the citys famous sights may be in order. It includes a cruise along the River Seine and a gourmet dinner, as well.

Along with long lines, the winery tours in Californias wine country can also involve some unfortunate encounters with those whom have overindulged. Cut them out of the picture with one of our private winery tours, available on several of our vino-based trips. Donors can ride in chauffeured luxury sedans between stops, and the entire itinerary can be based around their personal preferences. One of our favorite packages, Indulge in the Ultimate Wine Country Excursion, even includes a private lunch with some of the regions vinters themselves, meaning that supporters can combine drinking and learning.

Want to help your donors avoid the crowds? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today!
Bali
 
Louvre
 
Paris
 
Sonoma


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Hook, Line and Sinker

August 12, 2015
If people concentrated on the really important things in life, journalist Doug Larson once said, thered be a shortage of fishing poles.

For all that people do to try and slow down yoga, meditation, even gardening theres little that can beat standing hip-deep in a river, trying to hook a salmon or other dinner-appropriate fish. Mitch-Stuart, Inc., offers plenty of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages to help donors relax, but not all down time needs to come with a massage or facial. Sometimes, supporters want to kick back on a boat or wade into a river and let the reel fly. For those potential fishers, we can offer destination choices from Alaska to the Caribbean.

Fishing along the Alaskan coast does not have to involve a days-long hike through the wilderness to arrive at a watering hole. Instead, let a Royal Caribbean cruise ship drop your donors off nearby. Fishing is a seasonal add-on excursion for the Alaskas Majestic Frontier trip, which takes travelers from Seattle up the Pacific coast, past the Tracy Arm and Fjord and the Hubbard Glacier and back to the lower 48 states. Of course, fellow guests can also choose from walking tours, salmon bakes and even tramway rides, as well.

For those whod rather leave the sea living to the fish, Mitch-Stuart can also plan an entire vacation around a fishing expedition. Freshwater Fishing in Gorgeous Canada takes both experienced and novice anglers to one of the Fairmont resorts in either Alberta or British Columbia, Canada, for a freshwater fly fishing experience. Everything is included the guides help, the boat, the gear, bait and even lunch. And if it gets a bit chilly out on the water, heading back to the five-star resort and soaking in a hot tub is a pretty good way to end the day.

Of course, fishing expeditions dont have to be out in the cold wilderness, either. They can be, for example, beachside in the Caribbean, with our All-Inclusive Fun Under the Sun Island Style package. Supporters can head to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for a four-hour salt-water fishing trip, aboard a 40-foot ship, trying to reel in mahi mahi, offshore tuna and more. For the aficionados, a full-day experience is available for an additional cost, as well. The best news: If the donor comes back empty-handed, the Lobster Grill at the Bolongo Bay Beach Resort can probably cook up a great bit of fish, too.
Canada Fly Fishing
 
St Thomas Beach
 
Bolongo Bay


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Choose Your Own Adventure

August 05, 2015
One donor loves the bright lights of New York City. Another loves the relative peace of Jackson Hole. One wants to take his son to Wrigley Field in Chicago. Another wants to see basketball played in the mecca of the sport, Madison Square Garden.

Get them all bidding on the same trip.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we pride ourselves in being able to help charities and other organizations select the perfect non-profit auction travel packages to offer at gala events, the type of trip that really brings the wow factor. But sometimes, donors love the freedom to be able to pick their own destinations, to choose from several options. For organizations willing to let their supporters take control of their own vacations, here are three of the ways that we can help.

  • Sports fans are a fickle bunch. While they love their specific team, many of them wont go too far out of their way to watch games featuring other squads. That can make picking a specific destination to attract donors who love a professional squad difficult: Your gala may feature fans of several, even dozens, different franchises in different cities. The good news: Our Go to Any Game in 50 Markets trip avoids having to make that decision. We can secure tickets to any game in any of the four major professional sports, so your Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers fans can all bid on the same travel package and more competition means more money!
  • Those who wish to be pampered know that theres no geographic bounds to luxury. Thats why donors looking for a high level of sophisticated service know to seek out resorts in the Fairmont Hotel family Fairmont, Raffles and Hotels and Resorts and Swissotel. And thats why your supporters can be guaranteed that pampered feeling with our Legendary Luxury Around the World package, which will send them to one of the aforementioned properties anywhere in the world. With destinations ranging from Seattle to Abu Dhabi, its hard to imagine a potential bidder who wont find a dream vacation location for this trip.
  • Of course, theres even a way to offer an auction item that opens up Mitch-Stuart, Inc.s entire catalog of more than 300 unique travel experiences: Let the donors choose with a gift certificate! Available in denominations of $500, gift certificates allow our organization the opportunity to make any once-in-a-lifetime travel dream come true for your donor, and it takes any of the guesswork out of picking the right auction option for your supporters.
Want more information on how to maximize bidding by letting donors choose their own destinations? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today!
Football
 
Baseball
 
The Fairmont Empress
 
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise


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Whats New at Mitch-Stuart

July 28, 2015
Each time the seasons change, we get ready for something new: New climate, new holidays, new activities, new dawns and dusks. At Mitch-Stuart, the new season also brings one of our favorite changes: New additions to our catalog of fundraising auction travel packages. We take a look at the best experiences from around the world, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that give your gala auctions that wow factor, and then find a way to offer them on a consignment basis to charities and other organizations the world over.

Whats new for the summer of 2015?

First, weve added even more options for those looking for unique, city-specific experiences in some of our favorite destinations in the United States. Experience a hop-on, hop-off trolley tour through American history in Boston (Explore the Oldest City in America), ride in a horse-drawn carriage through Central Park (An Exceptional Excursion Through Central Park) or visit the Alamo in San Antonio (Remember the Alamo). Weve even got a new take on the wine vacation, moving south from Napa Valley to stunning Santa Barbara, with tours of four wineries in four days and three nights, all while setting up home base at an oceanside hotel.

One destination that has been growing in popularity has been Costa Rica, with its bio-diverse jungles and gorgeous beaches. Two new trips can take donors on either a zip line adventure and horseback ride in Guanacaste (Embrace Costa Ricas Pura Vida) or stay in three different cities over the course of eight days, seeing the full spectrum of environments for which the nation is known (Discover Costa Ricas Paradise).

The neon signs and over-the-top lifestyle have long been the stars of Las Vegas, but your donors can now meet some new ones, with a trip to Sin City to meet the stars of the reality television show Pawn Stars. Get a tour of their Vegas, along with a two-night stay at Paris Las Vegas (Sin Citys Full of Paris, Poker and Pawn Stars).

For those looking at that Euro-to-Dollar conversion rate and salivating, weve added three European destinations, each remarkable for their history, their culture and their luxury accommodations. Whether its six nights at the The Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I in Barcelona (Ensconce Yourself in Spanish Exclusivity), a stay at the historic Hotel Orfila in Madrid (Fall in Love with the Beguiling Charms of Spain) or a four-star experience right in the heart of Rome (Discovering the Inspiring Italian Coast), Mitch-Stuart can send your donors to the most fascinating cities while putting them up in the nicest resorts.

And finally, not even the dog days of summer can stop the golf lovers among your donors. Weve added rounds of play at courses like Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Couse, Pasatiempo Golf Club and The Links at Spanish Bay to our already-impressive 18-hole inventory. Weve even added a trip that is sure to get the attention of the sports biggest fans: Four days and three nights at The Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, with three rounds of golf including one on Course No. 2, the host of the 2014 U.S. Open (Americas First True Golf Resort).
Horse Carriage in Central Park
 
Costa Rica Pinilla Canapy Tour
 
Puerta de Alcal
 
Pebble Beach Golf Links


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Thinking ahead: Trips by Season

July 22, 2015
Theres a point, usually sometime in February, when most of the United States is willing to spend any amount of money to get out of a cold, dark winter and spend a week warming up on the beach. Theres also a point, usually around August, when much of the country would give anything to sit in the snow at the top of a mountain.

When planning a fundraising gala, the calendar already plays a big role. But when thinking about which of Mitch-Stuart, Inc.s non-profit fundraising auction travel packages to offer, its also important to consider for when your supporters are planning. If its August, can they squeeze in a beach vacation before school? Or have they already set their sights on winter break? Picking a trip with luxurious accommodations and once-in-a-lifetime experiences is easy. Make sure you think about the season of your gala in order to pick a trip with maximum interest in that moment for the highest bids.


Fall: The leaves are turning, the heat is breaking and school is back in session. Your donors attending a fall gala are more likely to have just returned from a major vacation than at any other time of the year, and turning around and planning another seven-day excursion might seem like a lot. This might be a good time to schedule a winter or spring weekend getaway. Give your supporters a chance to do that with a three-day, two-night high roller experience in Las Vegas, featuring anything from show tickets to rounds of golf. Its just the energy infusion one would want, and even springtime in Sin City avoids the triple-digit temperatures, to boot.

Winter: Last year, Boston got 110 inches of snow. The last of that record-breaking snowfall finally melted on July 14. Needless to say, much of the country will be looking forward to sun and sand by the time the depths of winter hit. But also remember that those same donors may be starting to lock in summer plans at this point. It could be the perfect time, for instance, to auction off one of our eight-day, seven-night sojourns to Bali. Our summer is their winter, technically, but with its location being so close to the equator, the island never really gets cold by our standards.

Spring: In some ways, choosing trips to auction off in the spring can be the most difficult of the season-based decisions. Fall is a busy time of year for many donors, after all, with school resuming and the work schedule ramping up for many professionals. But if theres one national obsession that Americans always make time for, it tends to be football. With Mitch-Stuarts Go to Any Game in 50 Markets! package allows donors to pick the NFL (or, if they prefer, baseball, basketball or hockey) game of their choice for a three-day, two-night sporting experience. And if your donor base is still basking in the glow of post-Super Bowl glory (we see you, Bostonians), the spring might be the time to allow one to book a chance to see the local side repeat, with the Winner Takes All at the 2016 Super Bowl! package.

Summer: Remember when you were a kid, and you complained to your parents that it was too hot? Did they tell you to think of something cold to cool off? Booking a winter vacation to Aspen for skiing would certainly qualify as both cold and cool! The Aspen Winter Wonderland package sets donors up with a home base in the mountain resort town for five days and four nights of skiing, spa pampering and dining. Serve an ice cream dessert at your gala, and your supporters will forget about the shirt-dampening humidity outside.

Our Travel Experts have answers for all seasons. If youd like to offer one of these travel packages or any of the excellent options in our catalog reach out today!
Las Vegas
 
 
Bali
 
 
Football
 
 
Aspen, Little Nell


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Spectacular Home Courts

July 08, 2015
London is synonymous with Big Ben. The first image of Paris that the mind conjures is the Eiffel Tower. There are some landmarks so well known that theyve become iconic, indelibly tied to their location. But its not just major monuments and structures that have those kind of geographic connections. It can be food and drink (champagne equals France, bourbon equals Kentucky), or it can be celebrations (New Years Eve is all about Times Square in New York City).


London is synonymous with Big Ben. The first image of Paris that the mind conjures is the Eiffel Tower. There are some landmarks so well known that theyve become iconic, indelibly tied to their location. But its not just major monuments and structures that have those kind of geographic connections. It can be food and drink (champagne equals France, bourbon equals Kentucky), or it can be celebrations (New Years Eve is all about Times Square in New York City).

Some of our favorite non-profit fundraising auction travel packages take donors to visit these destinations, so closely linked to their geographic homes. But weve also got ways to connect your supporters to the worlds great sporting events, contests that not only bring the best athletes to the field (or court, or course, or) but also become intertwined with the local fabric in a special way.

Next week, the eyes of the international sports world moves from England to its neighbor, Scotland, for one of golfs signature events. The British Open takes place at St. Andrews Links, sometimes referred to as the birthplace of the sport. While the Open Championship (as its formally called) is rotated between several courses in Scotland and England, its the Old Course at St. Andrews that is the most common host. While Mitch-Stuart doesnt have specific spectator packages for the Open, we can go one step further: Our Home of Golf travel package allows donors to play the Torrance and Kittocks Courses at the Fairmont St. Andrews, two of the most spectacular courses in the country!

There are several yearly events in France that people associate with the country (the clay courts of Roland Garros have made the French Open an iconic tournament of tennis Grand Slam), but only one covers a tremendous amount of the nations land and ends with an iconic trip down the Champs-Elysees. The Tour de France is a summer sports favorite, an event that attracts eyes from around the world and introduces everyday fans to some of the planets top athletes, who otherwise train in obscurity. The best part: Watching the Tour riders pass by is free for general spectators (though VIP tickets are available for those who dont want to line up and wait roadside), meaning that almost every trip Mitch-Stuart, Inc., offers to France can be a Tour de France trip with a little bit of planning and the willingness to arrive at the race course early.

Of course, in America were best known for one particular sporting event as well, even if it changes venues each year. The Super Bowl is a single-game experience like none other; for one afternoon, seemingly the entire nation stops to gather in living rooms, gorge on snacks and watch a lot of commercials (with some football sprinkled in). Its a true bucket list ticket for sports fans and one to which we have access! Our Winner Takes All at the 2016 Super Bowl! package can send donors to the 2016 Super Bowl at the new Levi Stadium in Santa Clarita, CA, with two tickets for the game and a three-night hotel stay, along with transportation to and from both the airport and the Bowl itself.
Fairmont St. Andrews
Tour De France
Tour De France
Super Bowl


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Independence Day Around the World

July 01, 2015
This weekend, Americans of all backgrounds will get together, listen to patriotic music, barbecue any foodstuff within sight, and watch fireworks explode in the night sky, all to celebrate Independence Day. Its a day, an event, for which people from around the world come to the United States to see.


But the United States is obviously not the only country that celebrates its independence, and the holiday activities in many other countries are not just fun, but perfect opportunities for visitors to get to know these destinations. If youve got donors who want to go on a Mitch-Stuart non-profit auction travel package trip, one of these celebrations could be the perfect excuse.

Started in the late 18th century to celebrate the start of the French Revolution, Bastille Day brings the people of France together each year for parades and fireworks. The largest military parade in all of Europe occurs on July 14 each year, along the Champs-Elysees in Paris, and fireworks often frame the Eiffel Tower. Any of our ten trips to France can take donors to a Bastille Day celebration, but the Enjoy Paris Joie de Vivre package is the one that can put supporters closest to the Tower or the Arc de Triomphe, with hotel options like the MonHotel and Le Marquis Eiffel.

In Italy, Republic Day is the yearly celebration of the vote in which the Italian people chose to transition to a republic rather than a monarchy after World War II. A major parade, watched over by the countrys president, goes by the Roman Forum and military bands play at the presidents residence. In addition, the Italian version of the Blue Angels fly in crazy patterns over Rome, leaving trails of red, green and blue (the colors of the Italian flag) smoke. Send a donor to Italy with our Fall in Love with Italy or Roman History, Cuisine and Enotecas packages, among others, and they can schedule their trip around the holiday.

If the quasi-militaristic nature of the European celebrations is off-putting to your donors, it might be time to consider a trip to the Caribbean (in fairness, though, isnt it always time to consider a trip to the Caribbean?). One of our favorites is Independence Day in Barbados, not just for the beautiful blue-and-yellow lights that illuminate everything from government buildings to roundabouts, but also because it is celebrated yearly on November 30th, the perfect destination for those looking to avoid those late fall cold snaps. With our Timeless Caribbean Elegance package, donors can stay in the luxurious The Fairmont Royal Pavilion, check out the parade and the lights, and still find time to get to the beach.
eiffel tower paris
Italy
Fairmont Royal Pavilion
Fairmont Royal Pavilion


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Popular Destinations for Popular Auctions

June 23, 2015
With over twenty years in the non-profit auction travel business, and more than $1 billion raised for charities around the world, weve accumulated a good amount of knowledge about what donors and supporters like. Donors heading to Hawaii want to go to the beach. Donors heading to Colorado want to either go hiking (the summer) or skiing (the rest of the year).


But some of our destinations are so multi-faceted that they appeal to a wide range of bidders and so popular that demand has dictated giving them multiple itineraries. Thats why our catalog with more than 300 travel packages available offers multiple options for many of our favorite destinations. These popular locations attract all sorts of different bidders, making them great additions to any auction.

Theres an experience for everyone in New York City, which is why Mitch-Stuart offers 17 different trips to the Big Apple. Sports fans will enjoy the chance to take in the U.S. Open, one of tennis great tournaments, while foodies will love the Nosh Your Way Through Three New York Delis that includes gift cards to Katzs, 2nd Ave. and Carnegie Delis. Theres Shop Til You Drop and Worldwide Passion for Fashion for the fashionista bidder, and even a package with tours of the citys historical landmarks, New Yorks History in the Making. A fan of New York could attend your auctions for years and never see it all!

As a region, Southern California may be as diverse a block of land as can be found in America, from the San Diego Zoo to the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. Fittingly, Mitch-Stuart offers a diverse list of travel experiences in the Southland. Whether its golf in Carlsbad or Indian Wells, luxury on the beach in Laguna Niguel, or attending an award show like the Peoples Choice Awards or ESPYs in Los Angeles, there are plenty of ways to play in the California sun.

American destinations are not the only ones with a wide range of available adventures, either. Mitch-Stuart has nine separate trips to Paris, to celebrate the citys art, food and joie de vivre. Send your donors to some of Paris greatest museums with the Paris as an Art History Destination Magnifique! package, or make a couples anniversary dream come true with The City of Lights is Yours to Love itinerary, which includes an evening private illuminations tour. Mitch-Stuart even offers two tour that split time between Paris and Rome, for the indecisive donor, based around either landmarks or food.

Need help picking a package for one of our most popular destinations? Talk your decision through with a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today!
Fashion Week in New York
Walk of Fame Hollywood
Paris
Rome


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Around the (Art) World: Our Favorite Museums

June 17, 2015
Even in an age where most important works of art can be seen with a quick Internet search, theres something special about seeing paintings and sculptures in person. Standing in the same room as a canvas that once stood in front of Picasso, or standing under a ceiling on which Michelangelo created one of the worlds enduring wonders, is an almost-spiritual experience for fans of either art or history.


Mitch-Stuart, Inc., can create non-profit fundraising auction travel packages to beautiful beaches around the world, send donors to the great restaurants and events of our time, but there may be no more culturally important trips than those that take people to see our shared artistic history. Here are some of our favorite itineraries that feature stops at the worlds great museums:

Even Americans with an aversion to the French language know how to pronounce Louvre or, more importantly, know what the museum means to the art world. Our Paris as an Art History Destination Magnifique! package gets donors inside the 650,000-plus square foot museum to see everything from the Mona Lisa to tremendous collections of Greek, Roman and Islamic art. But to see just the Louvre on a trip to Paris is akin to seeing just the White House in Washington, D.C.: Theres so much more to explore! Thats why the Mitch-Stuart, Inc., charity auction travel package also includes tours of the Musee dOrsay and the Centre George Pompidou; the former is a repository of impressionist art from masters like Monet and Renoir, while the latter has one of the largest modern art collections in Europe.

For fans of the Renaissance, it shouldnt be a surprise that Italy is where to go. But where in Italy (or, the place surrounded by Italy, to be precise) may be unexpected: The museums of the Vatican are, combined, one of the most often-visited collections of art in the world. Works by Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael are highlights, but what rightfully comes to mind for many is the Sistine Chapel, the ceiling of which was one of the greatest works of Michelangelo. With so much to see in one place, taking a tour (like the one that comes with our Discover Romes Eternal Charm package) is a must.

Your donors dont have to cross an ocean to visit a great museum, of course. There are plenty of fantastic choices in American cities, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the brand-new The Broad in downtown Los Angeles, coming in September of 2015. But not even the biggest cities have a monopoly on great collections: Our Santa Fe is the Perfect Getaway trip includes admission to the Georgia OKeeffe Museum (the world-famous painter passed away in the New Mexico city in 1986) for two. Exhibits draw from the 1,200-plus collection of pieces to showcase different aspects of OKeeffes life and work, along with the work of fellow American modernists.
Louvre
Orsay Museum, Paris, France
Sistine Chapel
Vatican Museums


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Destinations Near Destinations

June 09, 2015
The trips that make up Mitch-Stuart, Inc.s catalog of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages can take donors to some of the most glamorous, the most remote and the most beautiful destinations on the planet. Supporters can never run out of amazing vistas, exciting activities and first-class luxury options everywhere from Bali to Paris.


For some, though, one destination simply isnt enough. Rather than sending one of these bidders to a remote location, why not pick one where, within a half-day or less drive, (s)he can be in a new place, with different activities and a wholly unique vibe? If your donors want to hit the road even after hitting the road, consider sending them to one of these great destinations.

Amazingly, a city known best for its neon lights and man-made volcanos and lakes is the perfect home base for an outdoors adventure in the Great American West. Las Vegas might be filled to the brim with entertainment and diversions, but it also is only a short drive from some of the most beautiful natural vistas available. Of course, the Hoover Dam is a short drive (or helicopter ride) to the south of the city, but also within a reasonable distance lies both the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park.

History buffs love heading to Washington, D.C., with its museums and monuments. But the city also makes a great departure point for several different adventures. Travelers looking for even more history can make the short drive to the Revolutionary War battle sites in Virginia and Pennsylvania, hitting cities like Williamsburg, Va. And while D.C. doesnt have any beaches of its own, coastal towns like Rehoboth Beach, Del. and Virginia Beach, Va. are popular summer getaways for both residents of the nations capital and for tourists who want to get some sun in between Smithsonian visits.

Travelers who want to drive to multiple tourist destinations on one trip, however, may love Florida most of all. Anyone whos ever visited the Sunshine State can testify that Orlando, Miami and Key West each have different vibes, from the family-friendly fun of Disney World to the nightlife of South Beach. What fewer people consider, though, is that all of those different vacation profiles happen within short distances: According to Google Maps, it is only 238 miles from Epcot Center to Crobar, one of the hottest nightclubs in Miami. And Miami is within shouting distance of natural beauty as well, as tours of the Florida Everglades are just down the road.
Grand Canyon
Gettysburg Battlefield
Epcot Center
Florida Everglades


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Farm-to-Table Galas

June 03, 2015
To raise the most money during a gala auction, it helps to sell items that play on the events theme. Its one reason why our trips to locations like Las Vegas are popular with organizations who throw casino night parties, or that sophisticated travel packages to places like Paris and London go well with black-tie affairs.

But an often-neglected way of pairing auction with event can be literally served up on a plate: Creating a menu for the evening that goes well with a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. non-profit auction travel package can be a fun way to highlight a nights aesthetic while also making supporters hunger for a trip out of town. Some of our most popular trips include lots of exposure to local cuisine, and that means plenty of unique dishes to spice up your get-together.

One of the many traits New York City is famous for, of course, is its food. If you doubt that, ask any native New Yorker you know about where in the city to get the best slice of pizza or best bagel but only do so if youve got a couple of hours to kill listening to the response. If a non-profit is offering one of our Big Apple trips like perhaps the Savor New York Deliciously! package, which includes a food tour through either the Lower East Side or NoLita? a fun way of drawing attention may be to set up a faux-hot dog stand on the premises. While donors wander around and mingle, they can grab a dog as well. This works especially well at fancier parties, believe it or not, as theres no better conversation starter than the shared danger of trying to eat a hot dog with ketchup and mustard while wearing formal clothing.

Want to go quirkier? Fans of the southwest will enjoy our Sophisticated Southwest Style trip, which takes donors on a four-day, three-night trip to Santa Fe, NM, to explore the culture of one of the regions most artistically-forward cities. But Santa Fe is also a capital of southwestern cuisine, and to get the attention of your supporters, there is but one dish to serve: The Frito pie. The casserole-esque dish is said by some to have gotten its start in Santa Fe at a Woolworths lunch counter and even spawned a mini-controversy when chef and critic Anthony Bourdain insulted it during his CNN show. It works as a side dish or, maybe even better, as a passed hors-d'oeuvre; simply cut open a small bag of Fritos lengthwise and top with chili, cheese and anything else that would go on, say, a taco.

Tacos arent a part of the menu at most places in New Orleans, but if your organization would like to offer trips to the Crescent City there are plenty of culinary delights to pair with the travel package. Adventures like our Discover New Orleans Celebrated Downtown and The Home of Jazz both offer donors a chance to take a cooking class as the famed New Orleans School of Cooking, and it is almost a guarantee theyll learn to whip up a beignet while in the city. The pastry makes for a perfect breakfast when in New Orleans, but load it up with powdered sugar and it can make an excellent dessert course. Dont forget to add a strong cup of coffee and some live Dixieland jazz.

We dont have a test kitchen, but we do have more suggestions reach out to a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. travel expert to talk about offering one of these trips!


Carnegie Deli in New York
Santa Fe La Casa Sena
New Orleans School of Cooking
Louis Armstrong statue in New Orleans


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Go Big in the Summer

May 27, 2015
Whether its our muscle memory from scholastic days, the longer periods of light or the beautiful weather, summer is embedded in our minds as the season to travel. It feels almost like a biological response: The calendar hits June, and people are ready to hit the road, head to the airport or even get on a train and get away.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we put together travel packages for all times of year, going to beaches in the summer and ski slopes in the winter. Some are short weekend-style getaways, while others are tied to a specific event. But during June, July and August, when travelers seem the most willing to free up extended periods of time, we find that they want to really escape, taking longer trips in terms of both time and distance away.

Want to send your donors on a summertime getaway that takes advantage of the seasons longer vacation windows? Here are a few ideas.

If your donors have the time to take a week-long vacation, many of our trips to Europe will allow them to explore the continent at their own pace. This can come by settling in to one city on a trip to a single destination, or through one of our multi-stop adventures. Voyages like Hit the Road, Jacque! or Indulge in the City of Light and the Eternal City use the longer time frame to take your donors to multiple landmarks across the European Union (like Paris and Rome, in those two examples), while still experiencing local culture along the way.

If a slower pace is more in demand for your supporters, think of a trip to Bali. It may take almost a full day to get there from the west coast of the United States, but the islands gorgeous vistas and hospitality have made it a very popular vacation destination anyway. Four of Mitch-Stuarts five trips to the Indonesian paradise are for a full seven nights (with one shorter getaway being for a six-night stay), meaning plenty of time to get there, settle in, cope with the 15-hour time difference from the Pacific time zone, then start enjoying scuba lessons, beach time and pampering luxury.

There may be no more interesting combination of luxury and wilderness, though, than the Fairmont Mara Safari Club in Kenya. Surrounded by the Mara River and on the edge of the Masai Mara National Reserve, the Club is remote; it can take more than a day to even get here from the United States, with connections in mainland Europe being almost standard. But the time it takes to get here will be worth it once your donors head on a game drive, bush walk or any other of a number of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. And with the weeklong stay being a part of our Explore Kenya's Breathtaking Landscape & Wildlife package, therell be plenty of time to shake the jet lag, too.


Paris
Bali
Bali
Mara Safari Club Kenya


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Summertime is Disney Time

May 19, 2015
There are some brand names that are so synonymous with an activity or product that the proper, trademarked noun replaces the common descriptor. We Xerox pages, rather than photocopy them. We use a Kleenex, rather than a tissue. We dont search for something online we Google it.

The word Disney is not quite to that level of usage saturation, but Mickey Mouse and company are nearly synonymous with quality family entertainment. A trip to either Disney World in Orlando or Disneyland in Southern California can be more than a vacation for a youngster it becomes a goal, something to look forward to for months in advance (and something, accordingly, that parents can use as a great motivator to get young ones to do chores and behave).

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we offer non-profit auction travel packages to destinations around the world, with trips to far-flung corners of the world and once-in-a-lifetime events. But ask any pre-teen, and the stars of our catalog are the journeys to hang out with Goofy, Mickey, Minnie and company in sunny Florida or California.

Why Disney for your donors?
  1. Kids obviously love the attractions of the Disney parks, but parents should love them as well, as so much of the experience is designed for and based around the needs of families. Theres never a desperate rush to find a changing table in a Disney park, and no concerns about children being exposed to inappropriate material. Taking the family to a destination aimed at families means less time adapting a setting to a family-friendly zone and more time enjoying a vacation.
  2. The Disney parks arent just teacup rides and princesses. Theres plenty for adults to do, as well. A restaurant like Victoria and Alberts, with its chefs table and massive wine list, is definitely a grownup affair, while the surrounding Orlando area has become a hot-spot for wine, as we mentioned on our Twitter feed.  And Disneyland has a House of Blues concert venue and a ESPN Zone sports bar in its Downtown Disney area, both of which cater to adults (even if the latter features sports arcade games, as well).
  3. Going to Disney World or Disneyland doesnt just involve going to either of those parks. If your donor takes advantage of our Happiest Place on Earth and More! trip, (s)he will also spend a day at nearby Knotts Berry Farm, while our three trips to Orlando and Disney World include options like excursions to SeaWorld or Universal Studios.
Want to send donors to Disneyland? Reach out to one of Mitch-Stuart, Inc.s travel experts for more information!

Disney
Disney
Disney
Disney


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Vacations Under One Roof

May 13, 2015
Anyone whos ever traveled with a close friend or family member and spent the trip arguing about when to wake up, when to hit the city and when to relax knows that there are as many types of travelers as there are destinations. For some, sleeping is for plane rides only: There are sights to see, activities in which to partake, and nightlife to enjoy. For others, though, the chance to go elsewhere is also the chance to relax, to kick off shoes and grab a drink by a pool, or enjoy a five-star meal and only have to waddle back to a hotel room.

For the latter, Mitch-Stuart, Inc., can help. While we love sending your non-profit fundraising auction winners to major events like the Kentucky Derby or the Tonys, and we love sending donors to far-flung destinations like Bali for once-in-a-lifetime adventures, we also get that sometimes, vacation is just a chance to sit in one place for an extended period of time, maybe get a nice spa treatment, eat (and drink) well and sit by a pool.

For those travelers who get to a destination and dont want to leave the hotel, weve got a great selection of charity auction travel packages:

Want a view of three different countries, all from one rooftop? The Fairmont Monte Carlo (home base for our A Royal Retreat and Bask in the Glory of the French Riviera trips) affords sights of France, Italy and Monaco, all without leaving the hotel. And once sightseeing is done for the day, it also has its own Nobu restaurant on premises, and the Willow Stream Spa offers treatments for pairs (with two couples experience suites) and singles alike.

Some hotels double as historical sites, meaning that staying there is like seeing a citys past. The Savoy Hotel of London (Stay at the Most Iconic London Hotel) has more than 125 years of history, including being the home of performances by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Bette Midler. Its also one of the original centers of cocktail culture; The Savoy Cocktail Book has been republished and updated multiple times since its 1930 debut. Today, the Savoy also is home to Savoy Grill, Gordon Ramsays ode to glamorous and opulent fine dining. On this side of the pond, the Plaza in New York (Exquisite New York Dazzles Like Never Before and Perfect Moments at the Plaza) covers food and drinks as well, with its stunning Champagne Bar overlooking the historic Grand Army Plaza and Pulitzer Fountain.

Of course, for travelers who like heading outdoors as long as they dont have to travel too far to get there, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort (All Inclusive Fun Under the Sun Island Style! and Escape to the U.S. Virgin Islands Sun, Sand and Sea) has its own cove on St. Thomas, with access to some of the most beautiful sand available to the Caribbean traveler right there on property. And for when your donors get thirsty, Bolongo Bay also has Iggies, which has been voted Caribbeans Best Beach Bar by a local publication multiple times. Dinner, drinks, sun and sand who needs to explore?


Fairmont Monte Carlo
Savoy London
Bolongo Bay Beach Resort
Iggies at Bolongo Bay


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Recycle Your Gala

April 29, 2015
At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we like making non-profit fundraising auctions easier. Whether its offering great charity auction travel packages to organizations on a consignment basis or setting up a group with our partners to help with everything from running the auction to collecting bids, we want to help make event planners lives simpler.

One of the best ways to make the year-over-year process of pulling off fantastic non-profit fundraising events less stressful is to avoid reinventing the wheel. Each year, there are several major decisions that an organization has to make in terms of promotion, of theme and even of location. But why go through all the effort to do that each year, when you can make the same decision work for years to come? Here are three ways in which a recycled idea can make the yearly work of planning that gala a little easier.

A Visual Brand:
Yes, you can certainly use your organizations logo on promotional materials for your gala event. But developing and then reusing a special image for posters and flyers about the fundraiser not only pops off of advertising, it also lets donors and supporters know that something special is about to occur. It separates this one event, this one moment, from all the other marketing collateral you might send over the course of a year.

Go All-In on a Theme:
Developing a brand for your event can save a lot of effort each year. If your home city knows that, each spring, youll be throwing a beach party by a local pool, or that ugly sweater parties around Christmas are your thing, then crowds will be on the lookout for the yearly invite. And dont worry about being repetitive: There are countless variations on a theme that can differentiate this years event from prior editions. For example, if youre throwing a casino night, gambling in Las Vegas is very different from the gaming of, say, the French Riviera. Both, however, will utilize the same basic equipment (roulette wheels, poker tables, etc.) and fall under the umbrella of what youve established your event brand to be.

Lock Up the Location:
In some cases, the venue for a charity event is as iconic as any theme and as dazzling as any auction item. If your non-profit has found a home for its gala fundraiser in a historic, grand or just special location, theres no need to shop around every year. Make your event into THE event at the historic opera house, mansion or even park picnic area. Giving predictability to a galas location can help brand your fundraiser in the publics mind, and make people from the outside want to find out about that great night out that happens in that gorgeous venue each year.


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Spring Into a New Trip!

April 07, 2015
At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., were proud of the catalog of non-profit auction travel packages that weve put together over the years. Whether its a deli tour of New York, a trip to the Masters or even a stay at a castle, weve got something for every donors desire.

Still, every few months we get the chance to try and one-up ourselves, to create great new options for charity organizations to add to fundraising auctions and give supporters those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Whats new for the spring at Mitch-Stuart?

  • Three new trips take advantage of the dollars current strength against the Euro by taking donors across the pond: Look for great food and flamenco dancing in Barcelona, wine and treats in Tuscany, and luxury in London.
  • Lots of normal trips involve tour boats. Very few, like our travel package to San Francisco, involve a hands-on sailing experience aboard an Americas Cup yacht. For those who have fantasized about taking to the open seas or just want a good excuse to wear a captains hat this is the chance.
  • If you think your donor base could use chances to de-stress, weve got both domestic and international opportunities to do so. Send supporters on a wine tour through Napa Valley by horse and carriage (much less stressful than driving!) and keep them in the States, or fly them overseas to Bali, an in-demand destination, and let them find bliss on the sand of Sanur Beach or in a truly indulgent villa (set up for ten guests!) with a private chef and barman.
  • New ways to see two of our favorite U.S. destinations: Send friends of your organization to Miami Beach and put them up at the Art Deco boutique Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach/Oceanfront Hotel, or put them in the middle of it all at the Grand Hyatt in Times Square, with passes to see everything via the popular Gray Line bus tour.
  • And two more opportunities to run screaming from this winters chill, with adventure in Nassau and an all-inclusive stay in Jamaica. Whether its drinks in Montego Bay or a spa day at Baha Mar, shoveling snow will be the furthest worry from your donors mind while warming up in the Caribbean.
These trips, along with scores more, can be found in the spring version of the Mitch-Stuart, Inc. catalog. Reach out to one of our Travel Experts for more information and to find out how to add that wow factor to your fundraising auction!

Tuscany
Americas Cup yacht in San Francisco
Bali
Miami Beach


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Get Warm, Get Active!

March 18, 2015
Were big fans of the outdoors at Mitch-Stuart, Inc., and you can see that in our non-profit auction fundraising travel packages. We send donors to Jackson Hole, to Aspen and even to Quebec for winter adventures.

But when the sun comes out, some people default to lounge chairs, tall drinks and beachside reading. Dont get us wrong, we love heading to the shore for a day of relaxation, and we certainly love our beachside resorts and bars. There are some activities, though, in which it makes a lot more sense to engage during the warmer months. If your donors are looking for a warm-weather retreat, maybe its time to look into one of these activity-based consignment travel packages.

Theres a reason that NASCAR takes the winter off: Driving at triple-digit speeds through snow is not an appealing thought. But its not just the professionals that get back in the drivers seat after a few months off for holidays and cold temperatures. Winners of our Its Just You and the Speedway package can get in a real life racecar and take it for a spin with the Mario Andretti Racing Experience. In a three-hour experience, the driver gets a meeting with a crew chief, two-way radio communication with a spotter for tips while out on the track, and personal racing instruction from the experienced Andretti crew. Available in four different states (Arizona, Illinois, New Hampshire or North Carolina), the Experience is also convenient for the donor who may not know where (s)he wants to go, or would rather stay closer to home.

For those who really want to get away, though, theres the Great White North. While there may be a form of romance to roughing it while ice fishing in the wilds of Canada, the slightly-warmer climes of the spring make wading out into a river a lot more comfortable. Making the process even nicer: Unwinding at a Fairmont resort afterward. With our Freshwater Fishing in Gorgeous Canada package, your donors could find themselves at one of four different Canadian resorts, spending time with a guide during a private freshwater fly fishing experience (and yes, the bait and gear are included) and trying to catch that nights dinner. Dont worry about a donor going hungry, though: Each of the Fairmonts have fantastic dining options, too, if your charitys supporter wasnt able to reel in the nights entre.

With the skies clearing a little, now might also be the time to get in the cockpit. Yes, Mitch-Stuart, Inc. can send your donors into the sky with a Top Gun package, available to any one of twenty-five different cities. Your donors will fly on a fighter pilot mission experience, practicing formation flying and basic maneuvers before engaging in a few dogfights. Multiple cameras in the cockpit will capture the experience for posterity and give friends a chance to be jealous (or maybe a good laugh!) back on land.

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Holiday Globe-Hoppin

March 11, 2015
For many, the first thought of Independence Day involves fireworks over the National Monument in Washington, D.C. When Thanksgiving comes up, invariably so does the tradition of watching the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade, live from New York City. New Years Eve? Its hard to separate the day from the ball dropping in Times Square, isnt it?

One can celebrate a holiday anywhere, of course, but there are some places that have become ingrained in the culture as the home base for a certain day of the year. Mitch-Stuart, Inc. can send your donors to some of the worlds most interesting destinations with our non-profit auction travel packages, but one trait that some dont realize is that there are few to no blackout dates on these trips. So, if youve got a donor itching to go to the Big Apple for Thanksgiving, we can make that happen.

Here are a few other places that we can send your donors who want to celebrate specific holidays:

When thoughts turn to St. Patricks Day, many immediately think of two east coast cities where many of the Irish who came to America settled: Boston and New York. But only one major metropolis go so far as to dye a natural resource green. Yes, Chicago may be better known for pierogies and deep dish pizza than shamrocks, but Irish-Americans are the citys largest ethnic group. The citys St. Patricks Day Parade is one of the countrys grandest, and the dying of the Chicago River has to be seen to be believed: Thousands line up and watch a boat dispense the green-colored dye into the river each year.

Unlike St. Patricks Day, Labor Day doesnt lend itself to massive celebrations on its own. The commemorating of the labor movement in America is important, sure, but its often conflated with its place on the calendar and the changing season; Labor Day is much more about the end of summer than overtime laws. For that reason, thousands flock to Las Vegas every year to get that last bit of consequence-free Vitamin D before hunkering down for a long winter. From massive pool parties to decadent (and celebrity chef-filled) restaurant scene, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the excess of summers freedom in Sin City.

Other holidays have become synonymous with the cities that recognize them the loudest. Patriots Day is the third Monday in April, and was set aside to celebrate the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Technically, its recognized in Maine and Wisconsin, but it tends to be known around the country as a holiday specifically for Boston, where its a day off from school and work, along with a chance to relax (hopefully) in the spring sun. For Beantown, its a big sports day, too: The Boston Marathon is run in the morning, and the Boston Red Sox have had a home game at Fenway Park on nearly every Patriots Day since 1959.
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Top of the Lux

February 24, 2015
There are lots of little touches that make a vacation a relaxing experience. Someone else makes the bed in the hotel. At most places, its impossible to cook, which means theres no dishes to do. But one of the best for many is the ability to forget about bills and finances for a few days. Whether its that extra drink at happy hour or the bottle of wonderful wine, its easier to indulge miles away from home.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we love sending your donors on all sorts of adventures with our non-profit auction travel packages. Some of our favorite ones are those loaded with the sort of indulgences, those luxurious extras on trips to destinations both common and once-in-a-lifetime, which make long-lasting memories and add the elusive wow factor to an auction lot list. Whether its four-figure gift certificates to glamorous jewelers or the poshest accommodations, some of Mitch-Stuart, Inc.s biggest selling itineraries are all about living the high life.

The Plaza in New York City has defined luxury in the Big Apple for more than a century. A favorite of Hollywood filmmakers looking to capture Manhattan extravagance in a single shot (films from Barefoot in the Park to American Hustle have featured the hotel), The Plaza is a favorite for everything from afternoon tea to late-night drinks in the Champagne Bar. It also features 24-hour butler service and some of the citys best concierges. Our Exquisite New York Dazzles Like Never Before package, however, doesnt stop at Central Park South, though; we also include a $1,000 gift certificate to Tiffany and Co., the centuries-old jeweler and tastemaker. Donors who win this package can both relax and shop in style, picking up memories for a lifetime and maybe even an heirloom set to last even longer.

What The Plaza represents to Americans, The Savoy is to the British. Its guest rooms feature panoramic views of the River Thames and underwent a 220 million pound renovation that was completed in 2010. The Stay at the Most Iconic London Hotel The Savoy package highlights the propertys extensive list of charms the close location to all London has to offer, the afternoon tea overlooking the Thames, the white-glove services and top-notch butler and concierge staffs. It also includes a $500 gift card to visit the hotels restaurant, Gordon Ramseys Savoy Grill, which features all of the genius of the titular chefs creations with none of the berating that comes from his television appearances.

Of course, there are few more luxurious places on the planet than the French Riviera. The southern French coast has been a resort escape for Europeans since the 1700s, and now attracts celebrities from around the world (musicians like Elton John and Bono have flocked there, along with movie stars like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie). But travelers dont have to buy a second (or thirdor fourth) home along the coast to enjoy the regions spoils; our Bask in the Glory of the French Riviera package includes a suite at the Fairmont Monte Carlo and a $1,000 gift card for sightseeing tours but make sure to get in some relaxation at the Fairmonts Willow Stream Spa and grab a meal at Nobu Fairmont Monte Carlo, the Riviera outpost of famed chef Nobu Matsuhisas global cuisine empire.



The Plaza
Tiffany
The Savoy
The Masters Golf


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Travel for Two

February 11, 2015
Travel is inherently romantic. It pushed people out of their comfort zones and into new experiences, often requiring assistance from others (directions on the subway, translation of a menu in another language). It makes people vulnerable, a state which can help forge stronger, closer connections. Its also been a trope in books and films for as long as theres been fiction; movies like Lost in Translation and Before Sunrise are based around the idea of finding love in the midst of a trip.

Hawaii Wedding
Fairmont Mayakoba
Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa
The Plaza Hotel
But the act of going somewhere is not, all on its own, romantic. Mitch-Stuart, Inc. sends donors around the world with its charity auction travel packages, and a big part of the appeal is the destination itself. But it is often the experiences during these once-in-a-lifetime trips that make the most lasting memories. If you want to set up your donors with an adventure for sweethearts, look to these travel packages for inspiration.

There are plenty of romantic adventures available in Hawaii, of course, but the grandest gesture may be taking your relationship back to the day you said I do. Our Hawaii is a Lovers Paradise package sends a pair of donors to Oahu for either the wedding of a lifetime or a renewal of vows ceremony, beachside at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort. Choose from one of three different island beaches, and well do the rest provide an ecumenical minister, take care of any and all fees, and even give the ceremony that extra island flair with a pair of leis. Theres even a gift certificate to be used on champagne and fruit back at the hotel.

The vineyards and restaurants of Sonoma have their own romantic pull, as well. Mitch-Stuart, Inc. offers seven different trips through that part of Northern Californias wine country, and all of them have one amenity in common: A stay at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa. Its the spa part that should be of special interest to lovebirds; the Willow Stream Spa is ranked in the top 25 of Travel + Leisures spa list, and includes mineral baths and a huge list of treatments. There are four different couples experiences on offer, including massages and other body treatments.

Even trips to a city known for romance, like New York, requires some advance planning. Thankfully, staying at The Plaza can make those plans easier. Between its room package ideas like the Bubbles and Baubles getaway (which includes jewelry, champagne and chocolates) to its Valentines weekend restaurant menus with names like Champagne and Canapes, The Plaza has made itself a major destination for once-in-a-lifetime romance. And with some of the top concierges in New York in its employ, The Plaza can help round out a sweetheart getaway with tough-to-procure tickets or reservations nearly anywhere in the city.

Want to send your donors on a romantic getaway? Want to add touches of Cupid to another package? Get in touch with a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. travel expert today!


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Silver Screen Travel

January 28, 2015
This is the time of year when even those only minimally interested in movies have one eye on the silver screen. The major award shows seem to come every weekend, and the multiplexes feature many of the previous years best releases. Of course, when minds turn to cinema, they often also turn to Los Angeles or New York, the great centers of American film. But making movies is no longer just the province of the two largest cities in the country and that means that your donors can make a cinema-themed adventure out of a trip to several different locations.

The Mitch-Stuart, Inc. catalog of non-profit auction travel packages includes trips all around the world, for all sorts of occasions. Some of our favorite destinations can make a film lovers dream come true, all while experiencing a luxurious vacation and benefiting your charity.

National Mall
National Mall
Wrigley Field
Biltmore in Asheville
A major reason for a film to shoot outside of Los Angeles or New York is when its setting is so iconic that it cant be faked. Since even a major movie studio likely doesnt have the space to reproduce the National Mall, Washington D.C. sees more than its fair share of productions. While the actual halls of power the Oval Office, the Supreme Court chamber, the House of Representatives and the Senate are reproduced on sound stages far away, other city-specific locations like the Kennedy Center (seen in State of Play and All the Presidents Men), the Lincoln Memorial (Wedding Crashers, Election and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, among others) and the National Mall (Three Days of the Condor, Dave and National Treasure) have all made for important backdrops. The city has loaned more than just federal monuments to the silver screen, too: Local culinary favorite Bens Chili Bowl shows up in The Pelican Brief and State of Play, along with many television shows.

Chicago may be best known for its lively theater scene (especially improvisational comedy factories like Second City and iO), but its also been the setting for some of cinemas most beloved stories. In particular, director/writer John Hughes set most of his films in and around the Windy City, and many of the locations seen on the screen can be seen in person, as well. Ferris Bueller and his co-conspirators take in the Art Institute of Chicago and Wrigley Field during his day off, Northbrook Mall showed up in Weird Science, though many of the stores have changed, and churches like Glencoe Union and Trinity United Methodist hosted scenes from Sixteen Candles and Home Alone, respectively. Private tours from companies like Viator take tourists around the city on a regular basis, either for general film tours or for movie-specific experiences (The Blues Brothers is a popular one).

Not every city with a thriving film industry is a major metropolis, though. For a mix of movie magic and a small-town feel, head to Asheville, North Carolina. Films like Forrest Gump, The Hunger Games and Dirty Dancing made use of the city for locations. One setting in particular has become a favorite for Hollywood scouts: The Biltmore Estate has shown up in the aforementioned Gump, the film version of Hannibal and more than a dozen other recognizable titles. The best news: Visitors can see the estate, tour its vineyards, have a meal at its Dining Room (featuring estate-raised beef and lamb) or even get married on the grounds.


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The Newest of the New

January 20, 2015
Part of making sure that were offering your organization the best charity auction travel packages is updating our roster of once-in-a-lifetime trips. Each quarter, we put together new ideas, new adventures and new luxury experiences for non-profits to use as fundraising items at gala auction events. Whats new in the Mitch-Stuart catalog? Let look at some of the latest and greatest options.

Fittingly, our winter update features several new options for your donors who love the rush of skiing. Send them to Colorado with our Aspens Winter Wonderland package: A four-night/five-day stay at Little Nell Resort and Spa with gift certificates for the spa and dining. Little Nell sits at the base of Aspen Mountain resort, one of the top ski destinations in the country.  Just down the road in Crested Butte, our Crested Butte Promises a Superb Alpine Adventure package puts the donor at the base of the towns ski resort, and gives them access to a VIP members lounge and even a bonus adventure, like snowmobiling, hiking tours or even horseback riding.

If your donors like runways more than ski runs, the starring edition to our catalog comes from the Big Apple. Get Caught Up in Couture sends your donor to New York City for a three-day, two-night jaunt during one of the citys two 2015 New York Fashion Weeks. Along with the de facto exhibitions happening on the sidewalks of Manhattan each day, donors/winning bidders will also get two premier tickets to a Lincoln Center fashion show, where exhibitors like Prada and Marc Jacobs show off their collections for the next season. Your donors can be on the cutting edge of the fashion industry, all while supporting your cause.

Of course, some of our favorite trips every year involve wine, and weve added some great vino-related adventures, both domestic and abroad. Our Raise a Toast to the Pacific Northwest Coast package focuses on the vineyards of the region, with tours of Chateau St. Michelle and a second boutique winery to be named. For those looking for an international, big-ticket experience, theres the Indulge in the Italian Culture and Countryside and Wine, Dine and View Art So Fine packages, both of which involve Florence, Italy-based adventures and tastings in some of the countrys great wine cellars. Each package offers additional fun as well a tiramisu tasting, a visit to the Uffizi Gallery of Florence, or the sights of the Snoqualmie Falls and a tour of Boehms Swiss Chocolate Factory.

Want to hear about the latest and greatest once-in-a-lifetime adventures available from Mitch-Stuart, Inc.? Call or email a representative today!

Little Nell Resort and Spa
Little Nell Resort and Spa
New York Fashion Week
Chateau Ste. Michelle


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Super Travel

January 14, 2015
The sporting world turns its eyes toward the Super Bowl every winter, as the months-long NFL season reaches its apex. For this year’s edition, the league returns to warmer weather (the 2014 game was held in New Jersey): Glendale, Arizona, home of University of Phoenix Stadium and the Arizona Cardinals. But whether it’s the rare cold-weather host like in 2014 or the southwestern flavor of the Grand Canyon State, it’s a sure bet every year that the championship game will be played in a great travel destination.

With our catalog of consignment, charity auction travel packages, Mitch-Stuart can send your donors to any one of a number of the Super Bowl’s former host cities. Whether it’s an area that’s hosted a big number of big games, or just a football-mad metropolis that can turn high school contests into major events, these destinations are perfect for the pigskin fanatics in your donor community.

Miami has hosted the Super Bowl ten times over the years, with games split between the Orange Bowl and Sun Life Stadium. The former was the home of the University of Miami before its demolition, while the latter holds the Miami Dolphins. But the game is only part of the spectacle in the jewel of South Florida. For one thing, the Super Bowl’s early February placement on the calendar means that all of the tourists flock to the beaches with the kind of intensity only match by children escaping school for spring break. Local sports watering holes tend to show respect to local football favorites; Bokamper’s (named after linebacker/defensive end Kim Bokamper) and Bru’s Room (named after linebacker Bob Brudzinski) are perennials on any “best sports bar” list.

The Big Easy has hosted the Super Bowl on numerous occasions, and it’s obvious why – there may be no city in America that can become one non-stop party quite like New Orleans. The Saints run this town in terms of rooting interest, but fans of all allegiances can feel at home in the French Quarter. Sports bars like local favorite Cooter Brown’s combine sport and cuisine as well as anywhere in the country; Brown’s features boiled crawfish and raw oysters along with po’ boys and other, more traditional bar dishes. And of course, if it’s not football season, Mardi Gras and New Orleans Jazz Fest are pretty good excuses to end up in the Crescent City, as well.

But for the bidder that wants to feel like he or she is in football country, heading to Dallas might be the best option. The area has only hosted one Super Bowl to date – 2011’s showdown between Green Bay and Pittsburgh – but the sport is an integral part of the city’s life, at all levels. Friday nights are as often about high school football as they are about any other entertainment, while it seems like the entire city is in silver and blue on Sundays to cheer on the Cowboys. For the true fanatic, take a day trip south to Waco for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, which is heavy on pigskin-centric exhibits.

Want to send your donors on a Super adventure? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. travel expert for more information.
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Museum Oddities

November 19, 2014
The Louvre? Nice enough, sure. The Guggenheim? Alright. MOMA? Of course. When one travels, its easy to head to one of the celebrated homes of high-minded exhibits and historically-important collections.

But sometimes, its more fun to be surrounded by plush bunnies. Or massive neon lights.

Mitch-Stuart, Inc., can send the winners of gala auctions to destinations far and wide with its nonprofit charity auction travel packages. Some of those places, like New York, Washington D.C. or Paris, are known in part for their vast collections of art, scientific touchstones or even sporting memorabilia. But not every museum is a depository of important cultural or scientific artifacts. Some are homes to strange blocks of curios, while others are repositories for the unloved or unappreciated pieces of lives past. When in one of these top tourist destinations, look out for these off-beat museums.

It should surprise no one that the Los Angeles area, home of the human oddities on Hollywood Boulevard and that repository of quirks and quacks, the movie industry, features two of the strangest museums around. On Venice Boulevard in Culver City, the Museum of Jurassic Technology features exhibits like The Stink Ant of the Cameroon and The Horn of Mary Davis of Saughall, though theres still a debate as to whether the museum itself is a serious endeavor (and of what theme?) or a parody of private-collection museums. On the other side of the L.A. basin, the Bunny Museum in Pasadena contains a collection of more than 30,000 rabbit-related items, including stuffed animals, collectible figures and even a small crew of house bunnies, pets of the owners.

In Boston, the Museum of Bad Art features anywhere from 50 to 70 pieces at any one time, each showcasing what happens when the best of intentions meets the worst of talent. Works like Lucy in the Sky with Flowers and Mama and Babe quite obviously come from a good place, but also can be tough to look at. The museum ends up being a tribute to good intentions as much as a place to critique the less-talented, though theres plenty of opportunities for the latter, as well. Now with two locations in the Boston area to visit, MOBA (as its abbreviated) draws fans of the off-beat and outright awful year-round.

Las Vegas is underrated in terms of its high art scene (any city with as much money as Vegas will have a collection or two worth seeing, like the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art), but its two best museums have more to do with the citys history than any imported idea of art. Downtown Las Vegas is home to the Mob Museum, a collection of exhibits that trace the rise and fall of organized crime in America. It is home to, among other artifacts, the actual wall where the St. Valentines Day Massacre took place (the massacre involved Al Capone-hired killers in Chicago) and is housed in the former Las Vegas Post Office and Courthouse. Up the road is another Vegas-centric collection, the Neon Museum, which hosts almost 150 of the citys signature neon signs from casinos and other businesses. Guided tours take visitors past signs as old as the Moulin Rouge, which was billed as the countrys first interracial hotel in 1955, and as recent as the OSheas Casino signage removed during the LINQ renovations on the Strip.

Want to give a donor the chance to visit a unique collection for a one-of-a-kind photo opportunity? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. representative today!


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Lobby Libations

October 01, 2014
Delayed flights. Lost luggage. Fellow passengers reclining practically into your lap. Long security lines. While in transit, it can be hard to remember why we travel in the first place.

At Mitch-Stuart, we specialize in setting up trips of a lifetime, the types of charity auction travel packages that will wow gala attendees, draw in big bids and leave your donors with a satisfied feeling whenever they think of your cause and organization. Unfortunately, we dont have the magic power to make the actual airport experience any easier.

The good news: At many hotels, including our partners, theres always the hotel bar. The perfect destination for the traveler stressed from a day of lines and flights (and maybe a touch disoriented from time zone-spanning travel), a quick drink after checking in can help someone transition from travel mode to vacation mode. Whether its a fancy cocktail, a drink and a show or a stunning view, there are as many different types of hotel bars as there are hotels themselves.

Some of the fanciest hotel bars in the country can be found in New York, a city which elevated the lobby watering hole to an art form.  At The Plaza are two favorites: The Rose Club overlooks the hotels restored lobby and features live jazz, while the Champagne Bar boasts a bubbly-infused cocktail list alongside excellent appetizers. For the teetotalers in the party, both venues also offer non-alcoholic mixed drinks like the Ginger Peach and the Shirley Temple, meaning that everyone can get in on the fun. Best of all: Both make excellent perches from which to indulge in that great New York tradition of people watching.

It almost seems like cheating to include a Las Vegas hotel bar in this list; the city long ago realized that giving patrons a drink or two may help them be a touch more generous at the roulette or blackjack table. But Parasol Down at the Wynn is nowhere near the Sin City norm. The drink list features modern takes on classic drinks, like the Sinatra Smash, alongside a varied list of wines and spirits. But the star of the show is on the patio: The view of the Lake of Dreams, Wynns manmade waterfall. During the day, its a tranquil respite from the energy of the Las Vegas Strip, and at night the thrice-an-hour shows include everything from projections to a massive inflatable frog that lip-syncs to Friends in Low Places, among other songs. It works as a destination for a welcome-to-town drink, a meeting place before heading out into the city or an end-of-the evening stop for a relaxing nightcap.

Of course, while the Wynn and The Plaza both have bars with great views, neither of them may be able to match that of a beachside hotel. In the Caribbean, places like the Cabana Bar at the Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda or Iggies Beach Bar and Grill at Bolongo Bay in St. Thomas boasts views seemingly ripped from postcards and tropical-themed drink menus. There may be no better way to shake off a long travel day and get acclimated to island air than standing on the beach, sand between your toes, while sipping a Mai Tai or a Dark and Stormy. Youve got plenty of time to see the sights later.
The Plaza
The Wynn
Fairmont Southampton
Bolongo bay


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Choosing a Theme for Your Gala

September 24, 2014
Its possible that your non-profit or charity is so connected to its donors and to the public that all you have to do is swing open the doors, plate some appetizers, and ask for cash. Its possible but unlikely (not to mention way less fun).

Mitch-Stuart, Inc. has a variety of charity auction travel packages available for non-profits to offer (always risk-free, of course), but its even easier to work with groups that have picked a strong theme for their event. Here are some tips on how to come up with that perfect atmosphere and setting for your soiree, in order to give your donors the fondest memories possible:

Dress to Impress (Or to Not Impress): The day-to-day grind is often about finding comfort: People seek comfortable modes of transportation, comfortable temperatures and, certainly, comfortable clothing. But pushing donors out of their comfort zone can be all it takes to transport them from the daily routine and into a new world. The easiest way to accomplish that? Dress codes. Making a party a black tie affair works, but experiment with other ideas, too: Costume or masquerade balls are popular, as are white parties (everyone dressed in the palest of pales) and even beach attire soirees (sunscreen is optional).

How to Play: Once everyone is dressed to the nines (or roaming around in flip-flops, depending on the theme), its time to get them mingling. Introducing donors to each other (and to your non-profits enthusiastic volunteers) helps them forge new connections, share experiences related to your charitys mission and generally makes for a livelier, lighter atmosphere (the type of feeling that can help boost auction returns). Try putting people together through games; talking with fellow faux-gamblers around a roulette wheel or bean bag tossers can be easier for the shy, and theme-dependent games contribute mightily to the mood of the room.

From the Floor to the Block: Finally, a theme can help focus your auction item procurement efforts. Of all of the different no-cost, no-risk consignment travel package options available, wouldnt it be easier if there was a linking idea, a mood to set or a locale to match? For instance, a theme like Casino Night is begging for a trip to Monte Carlo or Las Vegas. Taking your donors to a faux-beach? How about a trip to the Caribbean or a seaside picnic package? So much of the process of putting together a charity auction becomes easier when the planner can focus on one idea.

Combine a dress code, games and selected auction items, and youve got a theme. Black tie, roulette and craps tables and trips to Monte Carlo add up to Casino Night. All-white dress, horseshoes or croquet and a trip to New York gives you A Hamptons Summertime. Beach gear, beanbag or Frisbee tossing and trips to Florida or Southern California? Welcome to Beach Night. In each situation, youre giving your donors a curated, thought-out party experience that will give them a chance to interact with you and your cause in a fun, light-hearted manner, all while supporting your good works.

Got your own gala theme ideas? Share them with us on Twitter @MitchStuartInc and at our Facebook page.


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Get Awayand Get Active!

September 17, 2014
There may be few places as depressing as a mediocre hotel gym. Often a lobby-adjacent afterthought, the collection of treadmills and one Nautilus machine that passes for a workout room may not feel sufficient for those vacationers seeking a sweat while on the road.

Colorado
Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe
Alisal Guest Ranch
While Mitch-Stuart, Inc.s charity auction travel packages dont include gym memberships (yet!), we can help those in search of a great active vacation, one that stimulates the imagination and the circulatory system. For some of our trip packages, exercise options are built in to the itinerary.

Colorado is one of the American states best known for staying active; all that exercise has helped the city of Boulder lead the country with the lowest obesity rate, and three of the countrys ten thinnest cities are in the state. A big reason why is the number of options available to locals for exercise. The Rocky Mountains hold ski resorts in the winter and mountain biking opportunities in the spring and summer. Take advantage of those opportunities like a local with a trip to Beaver Creek, Crested Butte or Telluride for downhill fun.

Nevada, of course, may be better known for neon and cheap shrimp cocktail than mountain biking and skiing. But if one can look away from the spectacle of Sin City, the northern part of the state has plenty of opportunities to get outside. One of the best of those chances is at Lake Tahoe, with the day-long Adventure Experience. Available through our Splendid Alpine Setting package, donors can choose between horseback riding, hiking tours and mountain biking around and through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Those whod prefer a little less legwork can also choose ATV, snowmobile or Jeep rides, as well.

For those who like their activities a little slower-paced, theres the beauty of Solvang, California, and the Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort. Visitors have the entirety of the outdoors at their disposal, and that can mean guided mountain or road biking tours of the Santa Ynez Valley, a day of fishing at Alisal Lake (or archery with the lake in the background) or even horse-riding lessons. Off the resort, meanwhile, lies some of Californias most scenic hikes; the Santa Ynez River Trail, for instance, offers a good workout and watering holes for swimming.

Whether its urban hiking and exploring, cliff-side yoga classes or some other form of exercise, your vacation can get your heart pumping for reasons beyond stunning scenery. Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. representative for more information.


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Choose Your Own (Travel) Adventure

September 03, 2014
All of the choices available in the Mitch-Stuart, Inc. charity auction package catalog can make it hard to pick just one to offer. Do you send your donors to New York? How about Las Vegas? Or maybe to Paris, or London, or any of practically countless other options?

Pedicure
Fairmont Empress Hotel
Hyatt San Diego
But for those hearty few who want even more choices, even more destinations, there is a cornucopia of options available with a Choose Your Destination package. Whether its the perfect match for your non-profit auctions theme, a sentimental choice for a subset of your donors or any other reason, Mitch-Stuart, Inc. can set you up with options around the world.

How can you best take advantage of the opportunity to build your own travel package?

Think Thematically: If your gala or charity auction event has a theme, theres a destination somewhere that would make a perfect match. Popular themes like casino night may conjure obvious trip partners, but a more subtle through-line for an evening could require a more tailored adventure.

Dont Forget the Hotel: While many planners focus on the city (or country) of the destination, the hotel itself can be a major draw for donors, too. Hotel chains like the Fairmont and Swissotel have worldwide reputations for luxury, meaning that a trip to Peru or Ecuador can be both about exploring a country and reveling in five-star service and amenities. Machu Picchu and mani-pedis in the same package? Why not? Or how about a visit to the world famous Pikes Place Fish Market in Seattle, followed by a tremendous dinner at the Fairmont Olympic Hotels in-house restaurant, the AAA Four Diamond-earning The Georgian?

Travel for the Cause: Are there major events involving your charity on a yearly basis? A conference open to the public to discuss the issue for which you advocate? With the larger number of options available via the Choose Your Destination category our The Journey of a Lifetime! trip can send a donor to a Hyatt anywhere from Seattle to Boston and San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale its easy to send a supporter to a destination or conference that deepens his or her connection to your cause.

For more ideas, or to get the lowdown on the (literally) hundreds of choose-your-destination options available, contact your Mitch-Stuart, Inc. representative today!


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Winter is Coming

August 26, 2014
Theres a reason that the end of August is often referred to as the dog days of summer, and its not that people have overwhelming love for them like we do our pets. Its 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, heres 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 Valentines Day. Shopping malls get extremely crowded and browsing on the Internet can be more difficult than browsing a stores 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 Bloomingdales. 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 its time for those holidays, the stress levels increase. As families return to a home base, theres 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 years 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 worlds great works of art. Theyll 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, doesnt 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 representatives 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 Lincolns 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 worlds leaders in galleries and art history, with museums like the Louvre and the Musee dOrsay. 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 dArt 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 Vincis Mona Lisa. Its practically a full AP Art course masquerading as a city.


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Summers 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 its Disneyland in Southern California or Disney World in Orlando, adventures to either coasts 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 Knotts 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 its 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. Weve 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, theres plenty to distract children from the upcoming school year and with swim-up bars and pampering spas, theres 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 were asked consistently is, whats 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 its 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 youll thank them for their generous contribution to your fundraising efforts!
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The Spirits of Travel

July 22, 2014
When you (or a donor) dines out, do you check the label on the bottle of wine? Can you tell the difference between a single-malt scotch and a blended whiskey? Do you know about the latest and greatest Indian Pale Ales?

We pride ourselves at Mitch Stuart, Inc. in putting together charity auction travel packages that take donors around the world in pursuit of their passions. For some, that might be great sporting events, for others it could be beautiful beaches, and for still others, its the lure of trying a new beer, wine or spirit or just seeing where a favorite label is made.

An area does not get the moniker Wine Country without earning it. There are more than 400 wineries in the state of California north of San Francisco, according to the travel experts at Fodors, and while seeing each of them may be a bit ambitious for a week-long sojourn, Mitch-Stuart, Inc. can help a winning donor make it to plenty of them. Napa and Sonoma Valleys are favorites of wine connoisseurs around the world, and wineries like Grgich Hills Estate, Frogs Leap and Long Meadow Ranch give aficionados and amateurs alike a deeper understanding and love for vino. In addition, travelers can discover smaller wineries by taking our private winery tour, which allows guides to introduce oenophiles to the hidden gems of Northern California wine country.

For those who like their adult beverages a touch stronger a trip across the pond can yield a great adventure. Heading to Edinburgh means heading to a land known (maybe best known) for its scotch whiskey, and whether its via visits to distillers or a private master class, an appreciation for the spirit is easily obtained here. The Irish whiskey drinkers can have their fun as well; a trip to Dublin also involves a premium tasting experience at the Jameson Reserve Bar. (Those trips to Europe can also be wine-centric, as well, thanks to adventures through Barcelona, Tuscany or the French countryside.)

One can combine high-end beverages with sun-soaked beaches, too. San Diego has been called the Craft Beer Capital of America, and a trip to any one of the more than 80 licensed breweries and brew pubs will show why. Hop aboard the San Diego Beer Train and see the coastline while tasting local brews, or stop in at famed microbreweries like Stone Brewing Co. and AleSmith Brewing Company separately. Either way, therell be a variety of beer for every taste.
Napa Valley
Wine Tasting
Guiness Storehouse
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Liberty Station


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Life is Always a Beach

July 15, 2014
Sandcastles and plastic shovels. Tropical drinks with little umbrellas. The company of a breezy novel. From childhood through the retirement years, people may change how they enjoy summer days on a beach, but the desire to set up shop on a sandy shore during June, July and August never abates.

Mondrian South Beach
Moon Palace Resort
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
Whether its a family-friendly trip to warmer climes or a wild weekend away, Mitch-Stuart, Inc. can help send your donors on any type of beach adventure with its charity auction travel packages. Which of the numerous beach travel packages should your organization put up for auction? It depends on who are your target bidders.

Some of the most beautiful beaches in America are found on the coasts of Florida, and for those looking for a combination of sand and nightlife, Miami Beach tops the list. Resorts like the Blue Moon Hotel and Mondrian South Beach cater to hip clientele and beachgoers simultaneously; the Mondrian, for instance, is right on the ocean, while also being just blocks away from the best of the citys nightlife. For youthful donors or donors shopping for gifts for twenty-somethings there may not be a better combination.

If your donors are traveling with kids, theyre likely to appreciate the ease of a trip to an all-inclusive resort. The family-friendly properties of Palace Resorts in Cancun, Mexico, give both children and adults the chance to play. Both Beach Palace and Moon Palace provide great beach access, and kids at Moon Palace will love The Playroom, with toys, video games, a mini-theater and two playgrounds. At Beach Palace, Kids Club features its own pool for children, one that includes a water slide that might make the parents a bit jealous.

After the kids have grown up and moved on, vacations can be a chance to mellow out, to relax while sitting oceanside. If its an escape that a donor desires, the island of Kauai may be the perfect trip. Attracting fewer tourists that Oahu or Maui, Kauai features beaches just as beautiful, but in a more laid-back atmosphere. And at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, guests can have dinner beachside with the hotels Share the Stars with Someone You Love sand-side service or attend a luau while spending time an ocean away from the stress of day-to-day life.


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Play Ball!

July 08, 2014
High definition television. Multiple 24-hour sports networks. No fee for parking. In our modern times, there are a lot of advantages to watching baseball games from the comfort of a living room. But no cable channel or fancy TV can replicate the smell of freshly-cut outfield grass or the camaraderie of the seventh-inning stretch. Even the hot dogs at the stadium somehow taste better.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we love to help non-profits send their donors on once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities through our charity auction travel packages. Every summer, some of those travel packages involve getting great seats to any baseball game in the country everything from a Wednesday afternoon get-away game with an early afternoon first pitch to the MLB All-Star Game (this year taking place at Target Field in Minneapolis).

Those experiences can differ wildly depending on the location, though. Where should a non-profit look to send a winning bidder? Major league baseball stadium experiences can be broken down into three categories, making them easy to pair with a gala theme or non-profit mission:

  • The Latest: Whether its the free wi-fi of the aforementioned Target Field or the more than 1,000 high-definition monitors at the new Yankee Stadium, some of the latest Major League Baseball stadiums feature technology previously unimaginable to fans. Some of them also act as curators of the sports history: Yankee Stadium has its own museum along with Monument Park, which features plaques dedicated to and uniform numbers of retired players, while Nationals Park has a Ring of Honor that bears the names of the franchises top players.
  • The Throwbacks: Maybe the best combination of retro ballpark design and modern conveniences can be found in the stadiums built in the 1990s, starting with Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. That ballpark, along with Coors Field in Denver (opened 1995) and Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas (opened 1996 as the home of the Texas Rangers) kicked off a trend in stadium design that takes the aesthetics of older stadiums lots of brick and exposed steel and updated the technology. Many of these parks also acted as catalysts for development in surrounding areas; Oriole Park helped revitalize the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore by drawing more people to the neighborhood, while Lower Downtown (LoDo, to the locals) in Denver is now one of the citys hottest destinations.
  • The Classics: For those who want a connection to the history and heritage of Americas pastime, though, there are still two parks in operation that can transport a fan back in time. In Boston, Fenway Park is uncomfortable, cramped and still a must-see for the baseball aficionado. Everything from the walk to the Park from the T to the first glimpse of the Green Monster in left field feels like moments taken out of a movie. So well known and regarded is Fenway that it was granted a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012, 100 years after its opening. In Chicago, meanwhile, Wrigley Field is two years younger but just as big a part of baseballs fabric. Its ivy-covered walls and outside marquee may be the icons most closely associated with the entire city, while some of the best seats arent even in the stadium; rooftop viewing parties on neighboring buildings are as much a part of the stadium experience at Wrigley as hot dogs. Throw in the Chicago Cubs tradition of day games, and on summer afternoons in Chicago it can feel like the entire city is playing hooky.
Yankee Stadium
Fenway Park
Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field


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Destination Spotlight: Monaco and the French Riviera

June 24, 2014
There are countless reasons to head to Europe for a summer vacation. Comedian Eddie Izzard once described the continent as where the history comes from. Some of the biggest events in the world, both cultural and sporting, take place in Europe. Of course, there are those who visit for its spectacular outdoors settings, be it skiing in the winter or gorgeous beaches in the summer.

Mitch-Stuart, Inc., loves to send non-profit donors across the Atlantic Ocean via one of our charity auction travel packages, and one of our favorite destinations on the continent is Monaco. The tine principality is the second smallest country in the world (on The Vatican takes up less space), but it fits more fun into its .78 square-mile area than one could possibly imagine. Best of all, it can act as a home base to visit the entire French Riviera, stretching from Toulon to the Italian border.

Within Monaco itself, visitors can find plenty of activities and diversions, but the gambling of Monte Carlo may be the best known. However, anywhere that gambling takes hold, other high-end services follow closely behind, and the dining, shopping and spas of Monaco are world-class. Gamblers have to have something to do when they step away from the tables, after all. It can seem like every restaurant, from the dinner-and-a-view of Le Grill de LHotel de Paris to the open kitchen at superstar chef Joel Robuchons eponymous eatery, is featured in travel magazines and on cooking television shows.

In addition to the everyday opulence of Monaco, two major events draw thousands to the south of France every year, for very different reasons. The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the worlds most famous car races, having been run 72 times since 1929 and being one of the three races to make up motorsports triple crown (alongside the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans). It is often preceded on the social calendar by the Cannes Film Festival, one of the worlds biggest and most important film festivals. Winners of the top prize at Cannes, the Palme dOr, include Pulp Fiction, Sex, Lies and Videotape and Apocalypse Now, among other cineaste favorites.

Of course, even stripped of all of those attractions, the French Riviera would still be a major travel destination, thanks to its location. The Spanish coast (including Barcelona and dance-music island haven Ibiza) and Italian cities like Genoa and Livorno are all within close proximity to the Riviera, making the French locale a perfect home base for a southern European adventure. Beaches like Paloma attract jetsetters from around the world, and Saint Tropez is synonymous with luxurious resort living; it turns out being located on the some of the worlds most naturally-beautiful coastline has its advantages.
The Fairmont Monte Carlo
The Fairmont Monte Carlo
The Fairmont Monte Carlo


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Destination Spotlight: Hawaii

June 18, 2014
Spring officially turns to summer on Saturday morning, and travelers around America will head to warm-weather destinations like Miami (June average high temperature in Miami: 87 degrees) New Orleans (average high: 90) or even Las Vegas (average high: 100). But sun worshippers dont have to spend their vacations sweating.

The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii
Hyatt Regency Maui
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
With average highs in the low 80s, even at the peak of summer, Hawaii is a beautiful, temperate place to send donors and their families. Its also a place of surprising diversity, with activities for everyone to be had somewhere throughout the island chain. At Mitch-Stuart, we offer a variety of charity auction travel packages that can give your donors once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, represented by four different Hawaiian islands.

From 36 holes of championship golf to snow-capped mountains, the big island of Hawaii hosts nearly all climates, and therefore nearly all sorts of adventures. But there are more esoteric activities on the island as well; Kona coffee can only be produced on the big island, and many of the farms that grow the beans have tours and tasting rooms to visit. Also worth seeing: Kilauea, one of the worlds most active volcanoes.

Maui has a mixture of urban and rural areas, offering a little bit of everything for the traveler. Those looking to commune with nature can head to Haleakala National Park and watch a spectacular sunrise or sunset from the summit of the dormant Haleakala volcano or hike through the Haleakala Crater, which sinks more than 2,500 feet into the island floor. City slickers, meanwhile, can walk through Lahaina, the former capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and check out the restaurants and nightlife of Front Street.

Travelers looking for a more city-like vacation experience would do well to head to Oahu. The island, informally known as The Gathering Place, is home to Hawaiis capital, Honolulu, and about 75 percent of the states population. Its also home to one of Hawaiis best-known tourist destinations, Waikiki Beach, where white sand is reserved for both sunbathers and surfers and where nightlife reigns just steps from the ocean.

Nicknamed The Garden Isle for its verdant fields and forests, Kauai may be one of the lesser-known outposts, but its beauty makes it worth a visit. The island is the home of the Princeville at Hanalei, one of the worlds great golf clubs; its Prince course is one of the best on any of the Hawaiian islands. For those who like their outdoors time sans crooked sticks and golf carts, boating adventures along the Na Pali Coast are very popular.


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Fore Fathers Day

June 10, 2014
When a charity auction trip aligns with a desire from a bidder, it means a satisfied donor and a big check to a worthy cause. This time of year, a top priority for plenty of shoppers is finding a gift for Fathers Day, and hopefully one that does not involve another necktie or barbecue grill gadget. One of the most common types of Fathers Day gifts is golf paraphernalia, be it a new oversized driver or a set of golf ball cufflinks. Theres an entire industry dedicated to creating golf-nut knick-knacks, and Fathers Day is that sectors equivalent of Christmas.

It may be too late for Fathers Day 2014, but Mitch-Stuart offers several charity auction travel packages that make perfect gifts for fathers, whether its a son or daughter buying for a dad or a father buying himself a vacation. Give your donors the chance to take care of a gift occasion by offering (on consignment, as always) a trip to one of these destinations at auction:

Hilton Head: In terms of sheer density of golf courses, it may be difficult to beat Hilton Head, SC. There are more than 20 courses on the island itself, with another dozen-plus more in neighboring cities. Add in the possibility of year-round play, and its little wonder that the area is one of the countrys premier golf destinations.  Each of Mitch-Stuarts auction travel packages to the island include rounds at three different courses, and with our concierge service, extra outings can be arraigned with a single phone call.

Orlando: Every year, around the beginning of spring, the Arnold Palmer Invitational takes place at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge near Orlando, FL. Mitch-Stuart cant get your donors on the course that weekend, but during the rest of the calendar year the winners of the Bay Hill Brings You the Best of the Best trip can play twice on the 18 holes used as a run-up to the Masters. Another package also comes with a one-hour private lesson with a golf academy instructor and a nine-hole playing lesson for those whose golf game is a little less Tiger and a little more Kitten.

St. Andrews: While golf is the worlds game, it can only have one true home. And that birthplace is in St. Andrews, a small town on the eastern coast of Scotland. It was here that the sport was first played, in the 1400s, and it also is the home town of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, one of two organizations in the world that sets the rules of the game. Bidders who win Mitch-Stuarts Home of Golf package get a $900 gift card to be used at the Torrance or Kittocks courses at the five-star Fairmont of St. Andrews. In addition, while staying at the Fairmont, experienced travelers can enter the local lottery for a chance to play the Old Course, the world famous 18 that hosts The Open Championship every five years.

Hilton Head
Sea Pines Resort Hilton Head
Bay Hill Club
St. Andrews Golf Course


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Mother's Day Spa

May 06, 2014
When you were a child, Mothers Day was about craft projects brought home from elementary school art class. As an adult, though, construction paper flowers may not cut it.

Hyatt Key West Spa
Spa
Spa
If your donors are in the same position, we can help.

Mitch-Stuart, Inc. offers a wide range of charity auction travel packages to countries near and far, and sometimes the destination is the star attraction. But what donors do when they get to the locale can be just as important, and for Mothers Day trips, a relaxing spa visit can be every bit as important as a five-star meal. These are trips that make great presents from an appreciative husband to his wife or child to a mother. Here are just a few of our options:

If mom would like to combine pampering with the great outdoors, heading to Jackson Hole may be the right fit. Jacksons Rustic Inn sits practically on the edge of civilization, with cross-country skiing, hiking and other outdoor adventures. But when mom wants to calm down after a day of snowshoeing or other activity, she can find her way to the Rustics spa for a Seaweed Algae Mud Wrap, or get a deep tissue massage to help minimize the next day soreness.

Or, send mom to the beach in Key West, with a three-night stay at the Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa and a hotel gift card that can be used for spa services. A favorite of travel publications like Conde Nast Traveler, which ranked it in the Top 100 Spas in 2012, Jala Spa at the Hyatt offers a tremendous menu of services, including a special massage for mothers-to-be and a Cuban coffee body glow scrub. Some of the massage treatments can even take place in room.

International trips can involve the peak relaxation of a spa, as well. All of Mitch-Stuart, Inc.s all-inclusive trips to a Palace Resort in Mexico come with gift cards for spa services. With Palace Resorts locations in Mexican hotspots like Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, most vacation trips south of the border can also involve a relaxing massage, a luxurious body wrap or a cleansing facial. Even better: Most of the resorts also feature golf courses, so dad can stay occupied, as well.










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Big Tickets, Big Cash

March 18, 2014
It can be intimidating for any non-profit organization, no matter the size, to ask for larger donations. Smaller and mid-sized organizations in particular can feel intimidated to try and add zeroes to the end of donation checks. But there is only one way to get bigger donations: Ask for bigger donations.

Since we pair with organizations all the time to offer vacation auction packages sold on consignment, we hear the objections all the time, the thinking from some groups that their donors dont have the money to be able to bid on a trip. Our response is fairly straight-forward: Give your donors a chance. Just ask!

In order to do so confidently, it can help to remember these three factors that any organization has in its favor:
  • These people like you. A charity auction at a gala or other fundraising event is a celebration of like minds, brought together by a single passion or outlook on life. It is your organization, your passion, which is driving that room. These are not strangers, they are not people on the other ends of cold calls, but your non-profits friends. If you cant ask your friends for help, who can you ask?
  • Shopping lists can line up with auction lists. Unlike a straight donation, a charity auction comes with its own tangible reward. Beyond the satisfaction of helping a group do good, donors can also win memorabilia, dinners and even the trip of a lifetime. Maybe its a proud parent who was looking for a graduation gift for a daughter or son. Maybe its an anniversary surprise. No matter what the reason, your donors may be in the market for a vacation and surely theyd like to help your non-profit at the same time.
  • All it takes is an excuse. Its impossible to force someone to donate money. Strong-arming someone into opening his or her wallet is not charity. But, it can be easier for a person to donate more money if theres a secondary reason behind it, or an incentive as big as a ticket to the Grammys, a ski weekend in the Canadian Rockies or just a much-needed vacation. Giving people another impetus to donate can loosen up pockets.
The biggest plus about consignment selling is that there is no risk to the organization. If a trip doesnt sell, it doesnt sell. But like the oddly-philosophical Wayne Gretzky once said, you miss 100 percent of the shots that you dont take.


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Destination Spotlight: Some Like it Cold!

January 21, 2014
The ski season is heating up and as you plan winter auctions, raffles and other fundraising events using travel packages and experiences, look to Mitch-Stuart, Inc. for the top cold weather wonders of the world.

Grab a mug of cocoa and read about some terrific trips and relax, knowing that Mitch-Stuart will handle every detail of the vacation experience from the minute the trip is sold to the time your donor returns home.

Skiers
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa
Killington Grand Resort
Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole
Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Skiers at Four Seasons Jackson Hole
Perfect Winter Wonderland
British Columbia, Canada
Explore your passions for adventure and relaxation in Whistler. A scenic 90-minute drive from Vancouver along the Sea To Sky Highway brings you into the heart of this alpine valley. Renowned as the top-ranked ski area in North America and home of the 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games, Whistler easily rivals the major ski regions of Europe, and offers true ski-in and ski-out convenience. Beyond the slopes, Whistler offers an extensive list of other indoor and outdoor pursuits.

Fairmont Chateau Whistler presents a unique collection of dining options that capture the essence of Whistler's lifestyle. Tastefully designed rooms with spectacular mountain or village views were created to blend with the natural alpine setting.

Centerpiece in a Mountain Crown
Quebec, Canada
Experience an unforgettable adventure as you escape from the everyday into a snow-covered winter wonderland. Fairmont Tremblant offers skiers 94 first rate runs and 600 acres that add up to a ski holiday that will soothe your soul and challenge your skills. The architectural masterpiece of this Mont Tremblant ski resort rooted in the legends of Quebec is the state-of-the-art facilities - climb aboard a high-speed chair lift at the doorstep to ski the slopes of Mont Tremblant Ski Hill and explore the mountains.

Fairmont Tremblant sits at the foot of the majestic Laurentian peaks, tucked into the heart of the region's most picturesque village. After a day of skiing out on the slopes, indulge in grandeur and relax in accommodating luxury at The Fairmont. Enjoy culinary delights from magnificent taste providers, treat yourself to a massage, or simply rest in the elegant Nansen Lounge. Proposing a refined choice of wines in the glass, vintage ports, a variety of martinis, or delicious specialty coffees, you will doubtless find what pleases you.

Ski the Best of the West
Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Nevada or Wyoming
World-renowned for a variety of challenging and breathtaking slopes, the West boasts incredible mountains that offer some of the best skiing in the country! Utah has the best white, fluffy powder covering its peaks, Nevada offers an abundance of annual snow-fall, and Idaho has over 20,000 skiable acres for you! From the fantastic snow and four terrain parks of Vail, to the untamed wilderness of the Teton Mountain Range in Wyoming, get ready for world-class skiing in your favorite destination!

Get your winter sports fix some of Western Americas best slopes! Whether youre looking for the perfect trail, amazing views, or the charm of a memorable destination, youll have access to it all! Choose from amazing mountain ridge resort destinations, including Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Vail and Keystone in Colorado; breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe; and the steep terrain and endless backcountry of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Sun Valley, Idaho was the nations first snow ski resort, and continues to draw ski-enthusiasts and snow bunnies with its long seasons. Nine powder-filled bowls, eight stunning peaks, 50 immaculately groomed runs, and three award-winning terrain parks make Park Citys mountains the perfect place for you to discover adventure in Utah!

Colorful Landscape of Vermont
Killington, Vermont
Located in Killington, amid the scenic splendor of Vermont's Green Mountains, the acclaimed Killington Grand Resort offers the ultimate mountain vacation experience. Stay in the heart of an alpine paradise, where skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and sleighing are just steps away on six mountains with 140 trails, and over 70 miles of terrain.

Killington is the perfect mountain escape in other seasons too. Hike and mountain bike on 45 miles of lift-serviced trails, enjoy 270 holes of spectacular Green Mountain golf on 15 challenging courses in the area, including Killington's championship 18-hole course, and discover breathtaking panoramic views! Antique shops and craft fairs abound, where youre sure to find the perfect treasure to commemorate your vacation for years to come. Gourmet dining, musical events and local theatres are close by, including the restored Paramount Theatre, so that you can relax in town at a leisurely pace.

Discover Lake Tahoe's Pristine Beauty
Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Discover an alpine paradise at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe. Nestled within the Sierra Mountain Range, the stunning locale of this Four Diamond Lake Tahoe hotel is the ideal setting for your next ski vacation! Tempt Lady Luck in the Casino, and after a day on the slopes ease tired muscles with a deep-tissue massage in the world-class spa. From delicious cuisine and inviting guestrooms to luxurious amenities and services, you'll experience an incomparable mountain escape at this Hyatt hotel in Lake Tahoe.

Take your pick of ski slopes, from Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe, to Alpine Meadows, and Squaw Valley. And Tahoe even has amazing options for cross-country skiing buffs. For the travelers who are not alpine-inclined, enjoy a sleigh ride through the woods, or a snowmobile adventure in the Tahoe National Forest! Of course, you could always simply take in the natural wonders and remarkable sights!










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Engaging More Auction Donors: 3 Keys to Your Most Successful Benefit Auction Ever

January 07, 2014
This weeks guest blogger and fundraising auctioneer extraordinaire, Kathy Kingston, updates us about ways to tap into key giving trends at charity auctions.

According to Kathys extensive benefit auction industry know-how, benefit auctions are booming across the United States. In fact, many of her clients broke all-time fundraising records this year.

Americans are incredibly philanthropic. 75% of Americans give to Charity, according to Sharon Danosky, fundraising consultant and president of Danosky & Associates. Over 16.3 billion dollars are raised annually at fundraising auctions in the United States according to the National Auctioneers Association.

Kathy encourages nonprofits, schools, and event planners to tap into some of the reasons why people give, often the secret to increasing donor participation at benefit auctions. This advice can help you best select travel packages and other live and silent auction items as well as better planning of all elements to ensure your most successful auction ever.

Kathy created this acronym, MSL to illustrate how she sees auction guests giving at fundraising auctions: meaningfully, locally, and strategically. Here is how it applies to the ways donors are giving.

Meaningfully. Todays donors give to causes that are near and dear to their hearts, either via personal experience or when someone close to them asks them to become involved. How can you translate this meaning to your event? Kathy strongly suggests making sure the events mission is central in the conversation. Not just as the beginning and end of the night, but threaded throughout, visually, conversationally and any other creative way you can think of. Make sure that your auction guests understand the impact of their gift.

Locally. Think globally, act locally is more than just a lovely thought. It is the mantra of many of todays charitable givers. It is up to fundraising auction and event organizers to demonstrate how donor dollars benefit local causes and strengthen communities. Whether the cause is kids, animals, neighborhood beautification or something else very directly applicable to your audience, Kathy says Demonstrate the cause and effect for your attendees, make it live and palpable through special guests, video, live demonstrations etc. Clearly show how an auction donors participation will impact your local community.

Strategically.
Given the changing demographics and buying preferences of auction audiences, Kathy sees a trend towards generous giving during the fund-a-need special appeal. Kathy sees the fund-a-need special appeals as a powerful strategic vehicle for giving at charity auctions. In fact Kathys experience over the last several years shows that revenue from fund-a-need is actually outpacing silent and live auction revenue. All donors want their dollars to work especially hard. In many cases guests prefer to give to the cause and not necessarily purchase an auction item.

Think about MLS as you begin planning your 2014 events!

What trends are you seeing for donor engagement at your auction? What are your ideas? Contact Kathy at Kathy@kingstonauction.com or visit her website at http://www.kingstonauction.com.


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Saratoga Hospital: A Fundraising Success Story

December 18, 2013
With more than 450 physicians and other medical professionals on staff, Saratoga Hospital offers care in a broad range of medical specialties. For more than a century, it has been Saratogas community hospital.

Ann M. Carroll of the Development department of the Saratoga Hospital Foundation is responsible for fundraising and has worked successfully with Mitch-Stuart, Inc. for the past four years on their annual summer gala benefit auction.

Luxury vacation packages provided by Mitch-Stuart are among the most popular items at our auction, says Carroll. The company provides a no-risk way to enhance our auction with unique packages you can offer your donors without putting yourself at risk if they do not sell. But that isnt a problem since 95% of all trips sell!

She goes on to say that the she works through the comprehensive company catalog and offers a combination of tried and true audience favorites and newer trips and experiences. Often she matches trips with the gala theme for that year. Last year, our theme was Party Animals and we offered the African Safari as one of our top five items and it sold extremely well.

Carroll sums up by saying, Working with Mitch-Stuart, Inc. enriches our auction overall because of the access to well packaged and well organized vacations that are easy to execute for the traveler. We are always pleased to refer them to other non-profits.

Ann Carroll offers up these tips to add to your auctions success:
  • Package power If your organization has secured a gift that can be packaged with a trip from Mitch-Stuart or any provider, bundle the offerings to strengthen its appeal to donors
  • Relationships count Establish a relationship with a specific salesperson at any of the entities you work with, the personal touch enhances the working relationship for you and the donor taking the trip - like having your own concierge
  • Always make donors a priority Much like the way Carroll described Mitch-Stuarts customer service as rapid response and solution-oriented, non-profits need to provide the same
  • Solicit and listen to feedback Query your donors about the trips they have taken to see which trips to offer again and again and which to tweak. Use this feedback to help plan
  • Volunteers know best Meet with your volunteers to gain ideas for travel packages. Carroll says, After all, our volunteers mirror our attendees.
May this advice help you with your next fundraiser!


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Harness the Power of the Creative Brainstorm

December 10, 2013
For philanthropic organizations looking for fresh ideas for fundraising events and auctions or overall business improvements, brainstorming is a natural way to gather thoughts for consideration. But does your organization brainstorm strategically, with a real end goal in mind? All the creative ideas in the world don't add up to results unless they link to an overall strategic direction, set by the brainstorm leader, whose job is also to fire up the group! Some teams dread brainstorming, seeing it as a waste of time or as a cause for performance anxiety. It neednt be! Here are some pointers that work for Mitch-Stuart, Inc.

The judgment-free zone. The atmosphere should be welcoming, positive and all-inclusive, with the promise that every idea will be considered. This way, the participants wont be hesitant to share their ideas for fear of ridicule.

Dont go in cold. Brainstorms work best when the participants are prepared. This can mean anything from preparing a detailed creative brief describing the situation and the goals as well as providing suggested websites to visit for more background.

Start by setting the objectives. Do you want a slew of creative ideas to break an existing event out of the doldrums? Are you seeking to create a draw for a new audience segment? A helpful way to start is to discuss some trends in the category s well as what the competition is up to. Non-profits must also keep in mind the serious nature of the cause they represent/raise money for. This doesn't mean you can't be creative, just keep ideas within certain bounds.

Let the fun begin. Once people start shouting out suggestions or solutions, write them down all of them. Even though some ideas wont make sense at the time, they may lead to other things. The best ideas often come from a simple phrase. My donors love exotic travel for instance, can open the doors for bringing in expert partners such as Mitch-Stuart, Inc. to do the heavy lifting.

Avoid diminishing returns. During any given brainstorm, there is typically a time where the initial excitement dulls and everybody falls into an awkward silence. Sometimes rewording the initial objective or goal is all you need to do to get the juices flowing again. People just need to see it in a different light. Or else bring out the candy!

Never stop brainstorming. Even when the meeting is over and everyone has returned to their desks, create an email chain, or a running word document with the top ideas, fleshed out to give the team something more to build on. A creative team leader can help further the concepts by adding greater detail and graphics to ensure the best result.
 
If traditional creative brainstorming isnt working for you, check out speedstorming a combination of brainstorming and speed-dating or brainstorming on steroids.


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More Ways to Delight your Donors

November 19, 2013
Last month we shared with you some of the different and delightful travel experiences offered by the latest Mitch-Stuart Inc. Destinations of Excellence Catalogue. The catalogue is so well-stocked with excellent adventures, it required a second look.

As you begin planning for your most successful 2014 auction, raffles and other fundraising event using travel packages and experiences, look no further than the catalogue but start right here to get some great ideas.

For the Family The experts at Mitch-Stuart, Inc. have combed the globe for family-friendly experiences which include fun-packed trips to the original Disneyland as well as Disney World; or if your tastes wander to the sunniest climes consider Hawaii and the Fairmont Kea Lani, Cancuns Palace Resorts or a water park package from one of 50 participating parks in North America! Still havent found your perfect trip? Your family can enjoy a historical and cultural vacation in a unique American city such as Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Boston or New Orleans. Make your kids (and your own) dreams come true with any one of the above or more listed in the catalogue.

For the Cold-Weather Athlete If skiing is the way to a donors heart, consider all the superb ski packages Mitch-Stuart has to offer - winter wonderlands Whistler, Aspen, Vail or Telluride await with luxury accommodations, often ski-in, ski-out and the most luxurious locations. There is virtually no ski resort unexplored by our experts with other fabulous packages including visits to Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Vermont or Wyoming and international destinations like Mont Tremblant in Quebec. Each trip is tailored to skiers at any level. Mitch-Stuart ensures incomparable experiences on and off the slopes.

For the Warm-Weather Athlete Golf or tennis? Scuba or swimming? YES, please. When you work with Mitch-Stuart you can have it all. Resort packages to the best golf in the world include the links your donors are longing for: Pinehurst on your choice of 8 championship courses, Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Club & Lodge, AAA Five-Diamond Fairmont Scottsdale Princess with two 18-hole championship courses, finally a stay at the Fairmont, and play at Old St. Andrews the most sought-after golf experience of them all!

For the World Traveler Mitch-Stuart, Inc. can send your donors to far-flung corners of the world with every detail catered to perfectly. International experiences include an exotic Indonesian escape in Bali, the exquisite beaches and cruises to the Caribbean, or fabulous jaunts to the exciting cities of Europe including a gourmet adventure in the heart of Italy and sophisticated artsy Amsterdam. In addition to these charming cities, Mitch-Stuart offers packages to London, Monte Carlo, Paris, Montreux and a safari to Africa. Your donors will want to bid on them all and isnt that the goal?

For the Gastronome According to social media experts, the most shared content today is FOOD! Photos of food and discussions of deliciousness fill Facebook feeds and occupy Instagram in huge volume. Your donors want to go gourmet and Mitch-Stuart, Inc. has the offerings! Gastronomic delights include South Beach Wine & Food Festival Southwestern and Mexican fare on trips to the gorgeous Sonoran desert, the epitome of nouvelle cuisine with your wine in Napa as well as epicurean excursions to restaurant towns like Chicago and New York. Get your passports ready for international culinary experiences such as cooking classes and wine tastings in Tuscany or Sorrento and days of dining in Paris.

With the ability to customize trips as well, the Mitch-Stuart Destinations of Excellence trips and experiences may be the only source of auction and fundraising ideas you need to plan.



Disneyland World of Color
Water Park
Skiers
Scuba Diving
London Eye
Rachael Ray South Beach Food & Wine Festival


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Veterans DayMaking It More Than Just Once A Year

November 05, 2013
As we approach the annual salute to our nations veteransthose individuals who have given so much and served so well to protect democracy, freedom and our way of lifewe realize the holiday designed to remember and honor them is indeed a wonderful tribute. BUTgiven what they do or have done on our collective behalf to keep America safe and freewe should try at other times of the year to think about and consider their tremendous contributions.

U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
Arlington National Cemetery
Gettysburg
USS Arizona Memorial
USS Arizona Memorial
Here are a few easy, thoughtful and educational ways to do just thatwhether as an individual or an entire family. We think the following trips can be memorable learning experiencesand at Mitch-Stuart, Inc. we are proud to be able to offer them as charity auction or other fundraiser options for packaged travel at your events.
  • Washington DC: Nowhere in America will you find more beautifully done tributes and memorials to veterans and our greatest leaders than in our nations capital. Whether youve never been thereor have visited several timesa tour of Washingtons monuments is always a highly moving, emotional experience. The Vietnam, WWII and Korean War Memorialsjust to name a feware both soul-searching and beautiful. Have you ever walked the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial, looked up at the huge sculpture of the great man himself, read the Gettysburg address printed on the wallsand not been electrified by the experience? Your trip can also include stops at Arlington Cemetery where those who gave their lives for our liberty are interred and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. DC is a GREAT way to honor and remember.

  • Gettysburg, PA: Site of the greatest battle ever fought on American soil is likely one of the mostif not THE mostwell preserved battlefields in the world. More than 150,000 soldiersfrom both North and Southmet face-to-face on this relatively small plot of ground which ultimately decided the outcome of the Civil War. The scores of statues and memorials saluting and honoring those brave men from both sides along with a stay at an actual battlefield bed-and-breakfast makes a tour an incredible, unforgettable experience.

  • Hawaii: Of course Hawaii is all about fresh and floral air, the warm, tranquil waters, and the breathtaking natural beauty, but the islands have quite the place in American military history. After you have taken in the glorious scenery and explored some of the  culture and traditions of the Native Hawaiian people, you must be a witness to the history of Pearl Harbor complete with a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, the National Cemetery of the Pacific and Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, extraordinary homages all.
Sothink about all our Veterans have done for us this Veterans Day . . . and reflect on how we can remember and honor them at other times of year as well.






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Destination Spotlight: Seattle and Victoria, BC

October 30, 2013
The Beauty of the Pacific Northwest

Mitch-Stuart, Inc. invites you to take any of our four breathtaking trips along the Pacific Northwest and get to know one of the most spectacular coastlines in all the U.S. Think its only rainy and cloudy? Think again! You simply cannot deny the beauty and diversity of the rocky coastline, glacial peaks, rich farmland, charming towns, and cosmopolitan cities that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Check out these packages that will awe your donors!
  • Begin your trip in Seattle with a spectacular stay at The Fairmont Olympic, the Pacific Northwest's only AAA Five Diamond hotel. Its located just footsteps from Seattles most exciting attractions, including the famous Pike Place Market and Seattle Waterfront, plus a multitude of museums, theatres, shops and restaurants; allowing you to enjoy both sides of the Puget Sound. Boasting impeccable service, splendid Italian Renaissance architecture and two award-winning restaurants, The Fairmont Olympic is widely regarded as one of the citys most celebrated treasures.
  • Coffee isnt the only beverage brewing in Seattle. In addition to the citys thriving coffee scene, your donors can enjoy our three-hour brewery tour and imbibe Seattles very own beer while visiting the best microbreweries, learning about beer varieties and the beer making process. Of course, for the coffee lovers at heart, theres no shortage of shops to step into for a Cup o Joe before starting the day. Take in the major sights around Downtown, including the previously mentioned Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Aquarium. Of course you will have to visit the original Starbucks and dont forget the Space Needle. Well worth the minimal fee it costs to ride the elevator to the top, youll get to take in amazing 360-degree views of the city, Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier, and the Cascade Mountains.
  • Take a ferry like no other to one of the busiest destinations in North America. The Clipper Ferry offers year-round daily departures from Seattle to Victoria, BC and whale watching tours through the Puget Sound.
  • Theres so much to do and see in Victoria! Our final package offers a stay at The Fairmont Empress overlooking Victoria's spectacular Inner Harbor. The hotel showcases the spirit and energy of Vancouver Island in grand style. It captures the grandeur and elegance of a bygone era, with the most modern facilities for todays traveler. From exhilarating ocean-bound whale watching safaris, world-class cultural exhibits and mouth-watering local cuisine to scenic garden and winery tours, The Fairmont Empress immerses you in the best Victoria can offer!
Take in the majestic sights, tastes and sounds that Seattle and Victoria, BC has to offer. Your donors will find these trips simply irresistiblethe make great fundraising opportunities!!






Space Needle in Seattle
Pike's Place in Seattle
The Fairmont Empress in Victoria
Victoria Canada
Butchart Gardens


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400 Ways (and Counting!) to Delight your Auction Audience

October 22, 2013
When it comes to donating to a favorite cause at a charity fundraiser, people spend with their hearts or palates or adrenalin in mind. Which is a good thing if you are in receipt of the latest Mitch-Stuart Inc. Destinations of Excellence Catalogue. The newest catalogue is a round-the-world compendium of classically fabulous cities and properties combined with once-in-a-lifetime experiences that evoke responses like, The trip of a lifetime!

MetLife Stadium
Ferrari F430 F1
Safari Lions
Sea World Killer Wales and Kids
Emmys
Bloomingdales New York
The savvy event planner can take a look at their crowd and know which exclusive packages to offer in order to achieve the highest WOW factor. To get your paddles up and at em at your next event, here is just a sampling. Read on and get some good ideas.

For the Armchair Athlete and Fervent Fan Would you like to offer your crowd trips to any major sporting event in the U.S.? Mitch-Stuart Inc. offers that. As well, pick and choose some amazing one-time events such as the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, Masters at Augusta, the Ryder Cup in Scotland, the Indy 500 in Indianapolis or the 2014 Super Bowl the first one at MetLife stadium played outdoors as real football should be! If your sports fan tends toward a less visceral appreciation of athleticism, theres a package to attend the ESPYS ESPNs annual celebration of all things sport.

For the Walter Mitty in us all On sea, on land and in the air, there is something for those in search of a pulse-racing experience. Whether its spending a hands-on day on the Americas Cup yacht as part of a trip to San Diego, a thrilling and beautiful driving experience in Europe in your very own Porsche, exotic car-racing in Las Vegas (including a heilicoptor tour of the city) or an exhilirating motorcycle tour throughout Arizona and Nevada aboard a Harley Davidson or Triumph Thunderbird, Mitch-Stuart has excellent experiences for the thrill-seeker. Not high energy enough? Try a Top Gun Experience as a fighter pilot for a day in a military aircraft.

For the Fan of the Four-legged a few exciting Destinations of Excellence! There is a breathtaking safari to Kenya that features endless wildlife viewing from the Serengeti to Kenya's Masai Mara. The Westminster Dog Show offers a backstage pass to this wonderful world of purebred dogs and all the grace, pomp and circumstance that goes with it plus its in New York. If your taste runs more to the aquatic, visit San Diego with a package dedicated to Sea World and the San Diego Zoo. For equine enthusiasts, two great options come to the Kentucky Derby for a mint julep-filled visit to storied Louisville and the annual heart-pounding race or visit Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo Championship.

For the Celebrity-Struck Awards shows know no bounds in the Mitch-Stuart Destinations of Excellence catalogue. Your devotee can see the Emmys, the Grammys, The VMAs, the Peoples Choice Awards and more all in either Los Angeles or New York offered in addition to exclusive fun-filled packages with lots of extras. Country music enthusiasts can also visit Nashville for the Country Music Awards.

For the Fashionable Those with a PhD in the Shopping Arts will be over the moon with one of Mitch-Stuart Inc.s famed shopping packages. The new catalogue features destinations such as Palm Springs for a few days of the
 finest outlet shopping or the always popular New York Shop til You Drop excursion. There is a featured Nordstrom experience that one can obtain in San Francisco, Newport Beach or Chicago. Finally, the shopping is pretty good in Paris and several Italian cities Mitch-Stuart packages as well!

If you arent too overwhelmed by all the fantastic finds in the new catalogue, visit it yourself! This is just a taste.



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Event Best Practices: A Few Holiday Thoughts

October 02, 2013
Event Best Practices: A Few Holiday Thoughts

The holiday season is an important time for charitable giving and the end of the year is the most popular time for organizations to host fundraisers. Roughly a third of all annual donations are made in December. Fundraising is all about generating income for a good cause and a successful event allows for fun and rewarding ways to generate donations. Best success is achieved with careful and strategic planning.

The holidays are simply the best time to fundraise! So start early with a few event must-dos:

Thoughts on Themes


Dont be afraid to be creativeas long as its in keeping with the interests and status of your target audience andin some wayrelevant to the equity and ethos of your organization. Keep your auction event fun with a theme that will excite your donors. Black tie galas and winter wonderland themes are always nice but a fun, pop culture pleaser like a holiday movie theme can rev up your guest list (a visit to Middle Earth courtesy of Decembers Hobbit release perhaps?) Come up with a few creative ideasand test out the best with a few key board members or regular contributors to get their input and tacit approval. Once they sign on, RUN WITH IT!

The Art of the Holiday Basket

Baskets are a solid way of enticing higher levels of givingplus they can make excellent raffle prizes. Again, dont be afraid of getting creative with the contents. Go green with sustainable foods and even cooking lessons or other hot trends such as pet gift baskets, premium cigar baskets and art gift baskets. Everyone loves a basket full of goodies. Theyre great for re-gifting too!

Getaway Gifts

Consider travel packages. People love to travel, according to Travel & Leisure magazine, Of course, one thing in travel remains constant year after year: the quest for new horizons. You can offer a range of these from warm, exotic destinations to one-of-a-kind experiential trips! Look for places and packages that capture the imagination. What could be more fun at the holidays than knowing youve just won or purchased an exciting trip for yourself or your family! And doing it for a worthy cause is a win-win for everyone involved. A complete, all-inclusive package to the 2014 Super Bowl or a deluxe holiday shopping spree in NY? Surfing and scuba lessons in Maui? See these and more in our sample trips.

Keep your donors merry and be creative for your next holiday event.


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Destination Spotlight: San Diego

July 09, 2013
SAN DIEGO: SO MUCH TO SEA. . .SO MUCH TO DO. . .SO MUCH TO ENJOY. . .AND ALL FOUR YOU!!!!!

Mitch-Stuart, Inc. invites you to take a trip to beautiful San Diego four trips actually! Get to know Californias second largest city via our itineraries below. We know that whichever one you pick, this coastal water wonderland beckons with blue skies keeping watch on 70 miles of beaches and a gentle Mediterranean climate that begs for a day of everything and nothing. Heads up to donors! These four trips are fantastic auction travel packages waiting to be scooped up.


Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina in San Diego
Americas Cup Yacht
Killer Whales at Seaworld
San Diego Wild Animal Park Lions
F-8 at USS Midway Museum
The first trip is for those who love to sail, since this is an Americas Cup yacht experience you dont want to miss. Stay at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina, which puts you close to the sheltered waters of San Diego Bay. You'll have the unique opportunity to experience almost two hours of boat racing, including a race on a current generation America's Cup yacht. The Hyatt Regency and Mission Bay Spa and Marina offer panoramic views of the marina and the Pacific Ocean along with a pampering spa and water playground with multiple slides.

If youre an animal lover, this second trip is perfect for you. Your stay at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina includes a one-day admission ticket to SeaWorld, or a second option, where a one-day admission to either the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park is also included. Venture beneath the waves for an up-close look at Shamu, moray eels, California bay rays sea lions, harbor seals and other exotic creatures closer than ever before! Enjoy the adorable black and white pandas, the meerkat and camels at the San Diego Zoo; or witness the rare and exotic animals up close at the exciting shows at Safari Park.

Theres so much to do and see in San Diego. With our third option, choose to stay at the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina or the Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa and experience endless activities. Jet-ski, sail, or simply sit and breathe in the ocean air on the resorts 16 waterfront acres across the bay from downtown San Diego. You can also take the Old Town Trolley Tour, which will guide you around San Diego hotspots, including the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, the Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum and Seaport Village. You can also visit the island of Coronado, the Crown City, Balboa Park-a city park that combines open space and greenery with cultural attractions- and El Prado- a long promenade running through the park, lined with Spanish architecture.

Finally, our fourth itinerary offers exploration beyond the city limits. Separated by the San Diego Bay, Coronado is a playground outside of San Diego. Watch as yachts and sailboats glide past the majestic Coronado Bridge. Check out the Ferry Landing Marketplace, the Silver Strand Bike Path and 18-hole Coronado Golf Course, all in walking distance. At the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa enjoy luxurious spa treatments and outdoor heated pools, lighted tennis courts and bicycle rentals.

Take in the sights and sounds of San Diego and experience all this amazing city has to offer! Donors will love these trips, and these four packages also make for great fundraising opportunities. You dont want to miss out!


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Cruising for Unique Fundraiser Venues?

February 05, 2013
By guest bloggers Jay and Corinne Fiske Northwest Benefit Auctions

How many times have you ripped open an invitation to a fundraiser only to see that the venue is [yawn] another hotel? Hotels are great, but if you really want to woo and wow your crowd, think outside the ballroom and get creative with some of these location options.

Cruise Ship
  • Its already a party atmosphere
  • The demographics of the attendees should be excellent
  • No one can leave early!
  • Lots of lovely onboard real estate for live and silent auction locations
  • Duration of a cruise means many previews of the silent auction items
  • Lots of ways to co-promote: Your mailing list, Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets
  • Cruise lines love the ability to market directly to potential cruisers through the internal network of the organizations. It is a win/win for everyone, and an experience which will be long remembered.
Museum
  • Spaces often provide large, varied and unusual settings
  • Knowledgeable, experienced on-hand staff a helpful asset
  • Behind-the-scenes, insider tours are powerful lures
  • Museums and other cultural institutions often cash-strapped and make very willing partners
  • Ability to leverage museum member mailing list/social media platforms a plus
Stadiums
  • Informal, less-stuffy atmosphere perfect for the right fundraiser
  • Fun catering options on-site
  • Ability to procure team memorabilia/ticket packages to add to silent and live auctions
  • Offer of VIP tours to guests as part of event
  • Marketing via non-traditional sports platforms (social media too!)
What is important to remember when working with these and other out-of-the-ordinary locations is, although providing a non-typical venue is great for your cause, these spaces do bring along their own "unique logistics challenges" but the benefits will win out.

Savvy planners will sell the space on the inherent win-win of hosting a fundraising event there. Here is an approach we have found successful.

When proposing your fundraiser idea to the facility manager, agree to market the specific event to your mailing list, post on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets, and become part of their viral marketing efforts. Some good examples of organizations that have the depth of contacts to make this quid pro quo relationship work are:
  • National trade associations
  • Alumni associations
  • Major health and research organizations
  • Nationally associated church groups
  • Class reunions
  • Corporate organizations wanting to give back to good causes while combining a little work
  • Fraternal and service organizations
You get the idea. Smart, forward-thinking venues have the ability to market directly to their target audience through the internal network of the organizations. It is a win/win for everyone, and ideally provides an experience which will be long remembered.


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