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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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More Vendors, Less Work

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Supporting Without Attending

April 16, 2015
We at Mitch-Stuart, Inc. love a fancy party. We love the gala atmosphere, the food, the camaraderie and, of course, the bid-inducing non-profit fundraising travel packages available for auction. And we especially love the results of fancy parties for our customers: Fundraising success, translating into money going toward worthy causes.

But we also recognize that not everyone feels the way we do about galas and other events. Whether it’s scheduling, geography or just a really good night of television, some supporters won’t be able to make it to your charity fundraising night. The good news: It’s still possible, thanks to technology, to keep those donors engage and involved in your big night. Here are some examples:

Mobile Bidding: Yes, we love it when two people in the same room bid each other up (over and over again!) over a special trip or other auction item. But the more people who have the ability to bid, the more bidders will actually put money on the line. Companies like Mitch-Stuart partner GiveSmart® allow your auction to be open not just to those at the gala, but to those all over the world.

Go Digital:
Is the head of your organization giving a “state of the charity” speech? Have you scheduled an amazing, inspirational keynote speaker? Make sure to get a good quality recording of the address – even if it’s a one-camera shot from a table on the gala floor. With a quick upload to YouTube, you have another reason to send an email to your donors and supporters, and one more reason for your supporters to be thinking about you.

Participate Without Participating: For donors who can’t be there live, there are ways of allowing them to support you in advance. Whether it’s the chance to save a “virtual seat” (have a table set up in the back with name placards for donors who couldn’t attend), the opportunity to put their name on something (a special cocktail, perhaps?) or even letting them buy mementos from the night, there are plenty of ways for a traveling donor to still be an active donor.

Just make sure to send the absent supporters lots of photos.


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Keeping Memories in Focus

July 30, 2014
It can seem like modern digital cameras make it hard to take a bad photo, especially when compared to the removable-lens film cameras of the past, or even the point-and-click consumer models popular just a few years back. But that doesn’t mean that travelers should settle for “okay” or “acceptable” images. Transcend merely “not bad” efforts and take photos that accurately reflect their once-in-a-lifetime settings and preserve lifelong memories by utilizing these travel photography tips on your next trip.
Icescating at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Icescating at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Landscape Mode: There are two orientations, or ways to position the camera. One is to hold it vertically, in what’s called “portrait” mode, and another is to hold it horizontally, in what is called “landscape” mode. Obviously, choosing one over the other will depend on the subject of the photo, but in most cases, landscape will capture more of the surroundings. Especially when taking photos of family members or travel companions, choosing landscape will allow the photographer to get the subjects and the background more effectively.

Apps: The top-end smartphones have on-board cameras that can take great images. But to turn them into great photographs, think about downloading and utilizing a photo app. While some, like the ever-popular Instagram, are built more for sharing pictures, others like Camera+ and Hipstamatic give the shooter a great deal of control over the final product. Pre-programmed filters can remove glare, fix minor (and sometimes major) lighting concerns and even make the images more “film-like” by playing with focus and adding film grain. Being able to effectively use one of these apps can turn a smartphone into a high-end consumer camera.

Practice: Travelers shouldn’t wait until standing on the shores of Bali or staring at the Eiffel Tower in person to figure out how to use a camera. If one is heading to the beach, try taking photos in the brightest conditions available – midday, perhaps. If the City of Lights is the destination, experiment with some evening photography involving man-made lights, even if it is just the marquee of the local supermarket. The best photographers are experienced photographers.
Shoot to Scale: A fun tip for those travelers exploring huge landmarks or wide open spaces: Try to get a human being in the frame somewhere, while still capturing the entire object or space in question. The presence of a person in the shot will allow viewers to have an idea of the scale of the photo’s object, whether it’s a huge waterfall or a downtown art sculpture.

Turn Off the Flash: In most circumstances, the light generated from the flash on your camera won’t illuminate the object of your photos. The maximum range for many on-camera flashes is 15 feet, and the tiny light on a smartphone usually travels an even shorter distance. If you’re taking photos of a still object at a relatively close distance in low light (like family members posing in front of a monument at night), flash works. Otherwise, it may be better to take a slightly darker shot and then “lighten” it later using an app or a computer program.

For more of these tips, check out Fodor’s excellent guide to travel photography.


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Fundraisers and Non-Profits – Step Up Your Tech in 2014

January 15, 2014
Mitch-Stuart Inc. (MSI), has entered into strategic partnership with breakthrough bidding technology services leader GiveSmart US, Inc. (GiveSmart). The initiative between the two firms will introduce Mitch-Stuart’s clients to user-friendly technology and services that will make auction fundraising easier and potentially raise more revenue for nonprofits. Similarly, GiveSmart will introduce its clients to Mitch-Stuart, Inc.

GiveSmart provides the following:
  • Easy-to-use bidding technology which allows auction attendees and guests to bid on items via their own mobile devices and/or through GiveSmart’s onsite “concierge” bidders.
  • Technology that allows for expanded participation, more competitive bidding, streamlined tracking and collection—and greater non-profit fundraising.
  • Exemplary personal service, assisting you from beginning to end in using their technology.

GiveSmart considers its company an adherent of the “adaptive philanthropy” movement which espouses and embraces change at all levels to continue helping non-profits reach their goals. Part of that philosophy can be described as taking thoughtful risk.

According to GiveSmart, this means leaders who are investing in an area where much is unknown, should have a clear learning agenda and plan to experiment so that they can come down the learning curve as quickly as possible. Such a plan will define assumptions to test and important external factors that will require strategy adjustment.

To that end, Mitch-Stuart Inc. advises that non-profits research new ideas and products that can take your fundraising and kick it up a notch or two.

“We’re excited to partner with GiveSmart and introduce our clients to their breakthrough technology” related Stuart Paskow, CEO of Mitch-Stuart, Inc. “We’ve helped more than 10,000 nonprofits raise a collective $1 billion+ through the years…and with this potential added resource, our clients will benefit even more.”


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