We all know that sourcing auction prizes can sometimes prove a little difficult. We've therefore put together some helpful hints and tips to help you get the best catalogue you can.
Let other websites do the groundwork.
Trying to compile a list of suitable providers can in itself be time consuming and disillusioning.
Discount or Ã¤Ã³Ã–deal of the day' websites like Groupon or Living Social will have tons of suppliers listed that are local to your area.
Use this as a catalogue of potential donors to approach for prizes. If they are on these websites it's because they are looking for exposure to grow their business so they are more likely to me amenable to donating a prize to a good cause for extra exposure for their product or services.
Use your sponsors
If you have key sponsors for your fundraising event, or indeed for your organisation in general, start tying in a gift donation as part of the sponsorship contract. You can offer extra exposure as an incentive at the fundraising event though the advertisement space on the electronic bidding system.
Use your supporters and guest lists
No doubt some of the people looking to attend your fundraising event will have some fantastic resources available to them in terms of prizes: the business owner with a house in the Hunter Valley, the wife of the local council member who has her own restaurant, the committee member who has a private boat or the company with the corporate box at your local sports or music stadium.
We've seen clients source all sorts of wonderful prizes just by having the initiative to ask their supporters what resources they have available to them. Some of our clients market this as a Ã¤Ã³Ã–bring a gift' campaign; so each event attendee donates a prize to the auction. Never be afraid to ask Ã¤Ã³Ã± you might well be surprised what you get!
Use the resources available to you
Think about your supporters that are bidding on your auction prizes and why they are doing it: to support your cause! So what resources do you have within your organisation that could get them tapping away on that bid button?
We've seen schools auctioning off the students' artwork, Zoos auctioning off dinner in the lions den, football clubs auctioning off time with their players and a hospital research foundation auctioning off printed canvas's of your brain scan!
Recently we even had a client auctioning off the seats to their fundraising event. They had a few interesting keynote speakers who they thought their audience would be interested in sitting at the same table with, so they simply auctioned off the seats starting the bidding at the standard ticket price to ensure costs were covered.
Another really powerful scheme we are seeing work very effectively is the Ã¤Ã³Ã–wishlist' idea . How it works is you include tangible donations in your auction catalogue and rather than supporters bidding on an item for themselves they can Ã¤Ã³Ã–purchase' something valuable for your organisation and those you are supporting. For example: a text book pack for a school child at $50, a night's shelter for a disadvantaged family of 4 at $132, a special bag of soy koala feed at $25. This wishlist can have high and low value items to suit everyone's budget.
And the good thing is that if you are doing this through the GalaBid platform, then these items stay open for purchase after the auction closes. This means that anyone who didn't win a prize but was prepared to give some money to support your cause still has the chance to!
All of these prizes are unique and ultimately focus on your supporters' interests. And more importantly they don't have to cost you the earth to source and arrange!
Items on Consignment
It is always best ,whenever possible, to get 100% of your prizes donated: then there's 100% of the revenue going towards your cause!
But we appreciate it is sometimes difficult with staff levels and time to be able to source those bigger or more unique prizes. This is where consignment services can be a helpful tool.
If you are struggling to get some larger items or have a few gaps in your catalogue then consignment is an easy and risk-free option.
Consignment means you list the item and only pay a cost value of that item to the provider if it sells. If it doesn't sell then there is no obligation. And if it does sell then you keep all the fundraising revenue above that initial cost price.
Just be careful not to rely too heavily on consignment, as ultimately there is a cost involved in each item you sell. If your have a big catalogue, filled mainly with consignment items you'll probably find that your donated items won't gain much visibility or bids. Bidding on donated items is so important as 100% of the revenue is yours to keep. That said, big-ticket consignment items can generate large profits while saving you a lot time and effort. So, combining a few select items on consignment with a majority of donated items could give you the best of both worlds.
If you'd like to use consignment services while also receiving 100% of the winning bid amount as a donation, then try this great idea we heard from a client recently: the event sponsors sponsor the cost price of consignment items that sell. This is very appealling to the sponsor as well as they only have to pay if the item sells. This particular client sent their sponsors a list of all the items that they could chose to sponsor Ã¤Ã³Ã± almost like a wedding gift list. A fun and refreshing idea.
Packaging and Bundling
If you are finding you are getting a lot of lower value prizes then think about how you might package these up to make them more appealing.
One thing bidders tend to do by nature is Ã¤Ã³Ã–bargain hunt' Ã¤Ã³Ã± we all love a good deal and if we can get an item for less than the perceived value it satisfies that little bargain-gremlin inside of us!
Therefore if you can package a few things together this helps to increase that perceived value and achieve higher bids on the item. For example if you have a salon treatment and also a luncheon donated then add them together to make it into a Ã¤Ã³Ã–girls day out'.
You can do the same if you get any tickets as prizes: incorporate with a food or salon voucher to make this into a more exciting experience. Packages also make the value of the prize more ambiguous so even the bargain hunting bidders are more likely to bid on them.
Think outside of the traditional silent auction box
Recently we have had a school auction offer a horse race instead of just physical prizes. This raised them an extra 30% in fundraising revenue and without any overheads. There really are some great ways you can approach things that don't have to cost the earth or take you centuries to organise - with a little creativity it's amazing what can be achieved :)