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Fundraising Auction Resolutions

January 12, 2016
We’re almost two weeks into 2016. How are those resolutions doing?

According to a Harris Interactive poll from two years ago, one in three people who make a New Year’s resolution has ditched it by the end of January. Whether it’s shedding a few extra pounds, staying within a budget or even stopping smoking, changes made based on the calendar seem to carry less weight for individuals than those made out of true need. However, for your organization, the New Year may be just the time to supercharge a fundraising auction.

We love helping non-profit organizations raise funds with our gala auction travel packages, but we also want to make sure that each trip offered fetches the maximum bid possible, while also being easy for both the supporters and the staff. What are some changes you can make to guarantee that 2016 is your most successful fundraising year?

  • Get mobile. Pew Research says that almost two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone as of the spring of 2015, and that number certainly is not going to decrease. Using a mobile bidding system like our partner, GiveSmart, allows your gala attendees to place bids from their table and, maybe more importantly, pay from their phones, helping to lessen that end-of-evening payment crush at the auction table. It also simplifies your post-auction process by collecting fulfillment and payment information in one place, meaning less paperwork.
     
  • Get wide. Yes, most resolutions involve getting more narrow (especially when it comes to waists and guts), but it might be time for your gala auction event to try and reach out to more people. An eye-popping 87 percent of millennials gave to charity in 2013, but for those who are just starting in their chosen career paths, bidding $5,000 on a trip may be impractical. However, by offering a travel package raffle, those same 20- and 30-somethings who may not be able to shell out the big bucks can support your organization while having a chance at winning a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
     
  • Get big. On the opposite end of the affordability spectrum, never be afraid of offering the kinds of trips that bring in the biggest bids. Offering at least one “affordable” option is important to get everyone involved, but your biggest donors are willing to buy more than a couple of raffle tickets. Weeklong adventures to Bali, safaris, tickets to the biggest sporting events and award shows … each of these can bring in the type of money that turns a fundraising effort into a major success. Give your supporters a real chance to step up to the plate, and you may be surprised by what they’ll do.


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Get Away…and 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 don’t 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 country’s 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 who’d 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, there’s 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 California’s most scenic hikes; the Santa Ynez River Trail, for instance, offers a good workout and watering holes for swimming.

Whether it’s 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 it’s the perfect match for your non-profit auction’s 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, there’s 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.

Don’t 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 Hotel’s 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 – it’s 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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WOW your Valentine!

January 28, 2014
This Valentine’s Day, get some romantic planning advice from the experts at Mitch-Stuart, Inc. They know the world’s top destinations and have provided some options for sweeping your loved one off to parts unknown. As part of their planning for 2014 auctions, raffles and other fundraising events using travel packages and experiences, they’ve got the goods on what’s great this Valentine’s Day.

Consider a trip to Sonoma’s wine country. Set in the idyllic, world famous wine growing region abundant with local products, The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa features a signature Michelin award-winning restaurant, a treasured golf course set on 177 acres of rolling terrain, and one of the top spas in the country. For hundreds of years, ancient thermal mineral waters have graced the site of The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. Today, the resort is proud to be one of the only luxury spa resorts in the country with its own source of thermal mineral water.

Guests will savor the fruits of the wine country on a personalized five-hour tour of the Sonoma Valley in a chauffeured luxury Sedan. Whether you are first-time visitors or veteran wine tasters, you'll enjoy an enlightening, fun-filled day in this picturesque region. The informative winery tour will be customized based on your individual wine preferences.

Find Love in the City of Light. Whisk your Valentine off to the Hotel Littre in quintessentially romantic Paris which is sure to bring a spark to your life, from the fashion, the culture, the architectural heritage, gourmet cuisine, and of course, the romance! Come explore the capital of France and discover the magic that has beckoned visitors for millennia. You’ll visit one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, on your half-day tour, and you’ll be blown away by the beauty of Paris at night on your Paris by Night tour - bonjour!

There is so much to see in Paris, from Place de la Bastille, a historical and modernly political square, to the trendy Right Bank district of La Marais, the artists’ studios of Montparnasse, to the high fashion districts of Faubourg Saint-Honore.

Treat her (or him!) like royalty.
What could be more luxurious that a trip to Monte Carlo – The Fairmont Monte Carlo is a unique four-star luxury resort located in the very heart of Monaco. A principality known to everyone, Monaco is nestled between Italy and France on the Côte d'Azur, and when you ascend to the top of The Fairmont, you can see the majestic view of all three countries! Immerse yourself in the beauty and sophistication of this world-class destination with a stay at the Fairmont Monte Carlo.

The Riviera offers over 300 days of sunshine throughout the year. Although the fabulous climate is a primary attraction, visitors are also drawn to Monaco’s warm engaging colors, the variety of its surroundings, and the friendliness of the locals. From the deep blue of the Mediterranean to the dazzling white canyons of the inland countryside, this region never stops revealing surprises.

Pamper the People you Love. Embrace the warmth of Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cozumel or Isla Mujeres, Mexico for some well-deserved pampering, discover the freedom of an all-inclusive stay at Palace Resorts, where one price covers your hotel, mouthwatering dining options and snacks, top shelf drinks, non-motorized water sports, exuberant nightly entertainment, and so much more. Palace Resorts deliver a better class of all-inclusive in tantalizing destinations throughout Mexico. There is no comprising on your experience!

You’ll find luxurious touches and elegant appointments at every Palace Resort, ensuring that regardless of the destination, your vacation will be exceptional. Bask in the beauty of Cancun, which sits at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, where you are invited to explore the area’s natural reserves, archeological sights and attractions. A few miles south along the ancient Riviera Maya, are three more Palaces, including two offering some of the finest golf courses and spas in Mexico, dot the white sands of the coast. The islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres are home to more Caribbean Palaces and on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. With six all-inclusive Palace Resorts dotting the sands along gorgeous beaches, to choose from, one of them is certain to provide the perfect setting for your next vacation.

Be sure to check out the Mitch-Stuart Destinations of Excellence® Catalogue for more treasured trips





Couple drinking wine
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
Paris Eiffel Tower
Paris
Monte Carlo
Fairmont Monte Carlo
Palace Resort Isla Mujeres


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

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

According to Kathy’s 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. Today’s 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 event’s 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 today’s 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 donor’s 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 Kathy’s 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 Saratoga’s 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 isn’t 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 auction’s 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-Stuart’s 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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Get Creative! Fundraiser Locations You Haven’t Thought Of

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

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

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

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

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

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


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