Consignment Items: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Time is money, right? Charities understand this dynamic more than most. And when it comes to sourcing prizes to include in fundraising auctions a lot of time is required. Persuading businesses to support a charity event with prize donations can be a laborious process. It involves a lot of door knocking and certainly some knock-backs. Personal connections can greatly enhance the success rate. That's why a well-connected committee is a fundraiser's dream. However, many charities and individuals raising funds for causes don't have the time or the connections to source prizes. As a result a whole industry has emerged: the consignment item industry. Companies source prizes and provide them to charities on a sale or return basis. While consignment industry can take the pain our of prize sourcing, here's a few tips to help you work out the good, bad and ugly:

The Good

A reputable consignment company will provide a range of prizes at reasonable prices. This allows the charity to start the bidding at a point that bidders will perceive as reasonable. The prizes themselves should be interesting and relevant enough to guests to entice multiple bids. Also, a silent auction bidding system will encourage more bids as the leader boards and outbid texts ramp up the sense of competition and fun. But as an insurance policy, the charity needs to set the starting bid at a higher level than the cost of the prize. This means that if it only receives a single bid it will still generate funds for the charity.

The Bad

Not all consignment items are created equal. Although prizes may sound exciting and exotic, the prices made available to the charity can simply be too high to encourage guests to start bidding. Having spent considerable time and money putting an event together, charities can find that their primary source of fund raising, i.e. the auction, leaves them with no successful bids and no funds.

The Ugly

Holidays are popular consignment items at many auctions. Who doesn't want to be whisked away on a luxury vacation! If you are considering including holidays from consignment providers, find out how easy it is for the winner to make a booking once the prize is purchased. Some consignment companies won't provide availability calendars. Winners are often disgruntled when they try and book their holiday and find that none of the weeks they need are available. It can be a deliberate strategy by the consignment provider who can sell holidays at full price despite the fact that availability is limited or practically exhausted.


As with most partnership arrangements, transparency and full disclosure is paramount when choosing a consignment provider. Knowing the pitfalls and understanding what questions to ask, means charities stand a better chance of getting a great return on their consignment items.





GalaBid is CrowdComms’ fundraising software, developed inhouse, which facilitates bidding, donations, purchases, payment for and management of all fundraising activities before and during live fundraising events, galas, golf days etc.