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How Great Items Sell

January 10, 2018
One of the biggest mistakes we see organizations make when it comes to our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages is thinking that simply offering the once-in-a-lifetime trip is enough. While there will be bidders in the room, that doesn’t mean that just offering travel to a great destination will be ready to open their wallet. There’s a lot that goes into setting fundraising records, especially before an event.

First, maximizing the fundraising potential of a great item means coming up with and following a great marketing plan. More people in the room means more bidders, which can mean both more competition (driving up prices) and more energy (especially if you’ve got the right auctioneer). Make sure that everyone you need to drive up bids knows about your gala event.

That list of people needed to help drive up bids should include a fair share of “connectors” as well. What’s a connector? It’s someone who can connect your great cause and non-profit organization to people who are ready to offer their support. Is one of your supporters plugged into the larger non-profit world? Does someone on your donor list know executives and other big-wigs at local corporations? You don’t have to know everyone in your city on your own, if you make sure that your supporters are doing some of the lifting for you by talking your cause up by the watercooler or at the country club.

Once you’ve identified your biggest donors (and biggest potential ones, too), there’s no reason not to ask them what they’d like to see at your auction. If your supporters prefer beach vacations and you offer a trip to Jackson Hole, it’s going to be rough sledding trying to get maximum value. At Mitch-Stuart, we’ve got trips for every type of traveler; whether your donors want a snowy wonderland, a beach escape, an urban adventure or rural serenity, we can help. But to do that right, you need to know what your supporters want.

Finally, for the night of the gala auction, it’s important to promote the item as much as possible in the room. That means making a highly visual display (lots and lots of photos!), announcements throughout the night (“the auction’s coming up, featuring our bucket-list-worthy trip to Bali!”) and one-on-one mentions when your board members roam the room chatting with supporters. Like any big-time event, there’s an amount of hype needed to make sure that everyone is eagerly looking forward to either bidding on this great item or seeing who will win it.