The Best of 2015 Helpful Hints on How to Make the Most Out of Your Fundraising Event!

Wow - 2015 was quite the year here at GalaBid! With the number of fundraising events that we work with doubling, it was no surprise that we got to witness some great fundraising incentives and meet some really interesting people.

Some of the events organisers we worked with this year were just amazing at what they do - and not all of them have 20 years experience in the job. From mums giving up their spare time to help with their kids school fundraisers, to members of the community banding together to put on a fundraising night for someone that needed their support. There were some really gifted and motivated people we got to meet and work with over the past 12 months.

But putting on a fundraising event is definitely not easy - especially seeing as it might not be your only job! So to help give you an insight as to what can work well and how to get the best results from your event we've put together a few case studies from 2015 events that hit a home run.

Happy Fundraising!

Seconds Count - Driving up the donations

April saw the event team at Seconds Count run a 500 person gala in Hobart with great success. Their varied auction catalogue offered prizes and price points for everyone from singing lessons to teddy bears - there really was something for everyone! This is really a key point to remember when running your own auction - variety of prizes and price points are key to engaging more bidders.

One of the things we really liked about this event was the event organiser's use of the GalaBid 'fixed price' item to create several 'gift' opportunities throughout the silent auction catalogue.

Ranging from $50 to $10,000, supporters could chose to buy cell culture, purchase lab equipment or support a student in a lab. This gave a really tangible edge to their pledge campaign and where these items were interspersed amongst the silent auction catalogue it helped to 'jog' bidders memories that they could just make a straight up donation.

Offering supporters multiple ways to give can make a big difference to the bottom line achieved. Manual pledge cards are great but can get lost or become unreadable after one or two beverages are consumed! Electronic donations give your supporters another easy way to give and can be tied in to live pledge drives in the room.  Another good technique is to leave donation items open after the auction closes and hide the rest of the now-closed auction catalogue. You can then send out a text alert advertising that donations are still open or even get your MC to make a final ask to the room.

Helping Heidi Hawkins Benefit Night - Maximizing the Live Auction

One of the great things about working at GalaBid is that we are often introduced to community events that we might not have otherwise known were happening. We also get to witness the positive sides to being human and how individuals in a community will form bonds, make sacrifices and work together to help those that need it most. The Helping Heidi Hawkins Benefit Night was on of these inspiring moments - with a community coming together to raise money for a little girl diagnosed with Bilateral Wilms Tumours. With every single item of their 122-item catalogue receiving a bid, the evening was a huge success with their original target being exceeded by nearly 120%!

The event team took advantage of the GalaBid Live Auction item feature to help them maximize on this success by advertising prizes prior to the Live Auction to gain early interest and allow people to start bidding on them as silent auction items. The items were then closed and handed across to the Live auctioneer to finish things off in the room.

Once the Live Auction was complete they then added in the final winning bidders so one invoice was created for the winner for the Live and also any Silent auction items they had won. This then allowed for easy payment via the winners mobile phone and a nice clear reconciliation record for the payment team.

Having a well-organised Live auction can be crucial to a fundraising event as it is often where the big bucks are raised. Things to consider are how you will promote and get supporters interested in the items, how you will easily 'spot' the winners in the room and take payment and also, most importantly how you will engage people to take part. An engaging auctioneer can be integral to this so make sure you put in a bit of time and potentially money to ensure you have someone that can hold a rooms attention - it really can make all the difference!

Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College - Raffle Reach

August saw the 10th Anniversary for Monte Bursary Rugby Lunch and some fantastic prizes were sourced by the College for the occasion.

The 1st Prize in the Raffle was a $10,000 trip to Paris for the French Open - amazing! So the college were off on a good foot and knew they were likely to have great interest in ticket sales. To maximize on this the college used the GalaBid Electronic Raffle feature, allowing their supporters to purchase tickets ahead of the event and at the event via their mobile phones or with assistance from a member of staff with an ipad.

The college launched the auction page and raffle ticket sales 2 weeks ahead of their live event to maximize ticket sales and bidding revenue and were delighted to find they had sold a third of their raffle tickets before anyone walked in the room.

Here's what Sonia from the college fed back to us:

"GalaBid enabled us to reach far more people than were attending the lunch. By having an online platform, Alumni, past parents & friends were able to purchase raffle tickets and also bid on silent auction items. We had raised $60,000 before the lunch had even started.”

This is most defiantly one of our Top Tips for any fundraising event planners out there - the early bird most certainly catches the worm when it comes to fundraising. Over the past 5 years we have seen a clear trend that the clients that launch their auction catalogues and raffle ticket sales ahead of the live event are the ones achieving the big increases in fundraising revenue.

It is therefore worth getting started on your raffle and auction early on in the piece. And even if you are still sourcing prizes one or two weeks before the event, get out what you have! It will wet people's appetites and the beauty of electronic auctions is that you can continue adding more items as and when they are confirmed. GalaBid added in a 'hide item' feature this year to aid with this.

Going for the wider audience also makes a huge difference. A lot of the fundraisers we work with now send out the link to their GalaBid catalogue to their whole database, regardless as to whether or not the supporter is actually going to be in attendance of the event. If you still want to offer some exclusivity to event attendees only then you can lock certain items for in-room bidding only or keep the Live auction for guests only :)

Alannah and Madeline Foundation

November saw a fantastically creative appeal for the Alannah and Madeline Foundation where the 'Hop For Hope' auction was launched. This was a predominantly online auction where supporters could bid on a variety of life-size kangaroos that iconic Australian artists and identities had designed and decorated. It's great to see creativity in fundraising and this appeal was simply bursting with it. From the marketing and design work to the nature of the appeal itself - it shows what can be achieved when we think outside the box.

The foundation made use of both the silent auction features and the 'fixed price' or 'buy it now' feature to then continue selling some pieces at a set price once the main auction had finished. This allowed them to really maximize on the fundraising potential for the campaign.

The important thing with an online auction is to be able to receive payment quickly and easily so the foundation took advantage of the instant payment feature and linked in their own account so as soon as a winning bidder paid for their item the funds went straight to the foundation directly. The foundation could also send out text reminders directly to winning bidders mobiles and download reports on winning bidders and invoices paid to date.

This is something key to consider when running an online auction as you may not always know the bidders taking part. Having a good registration process so you can capture more information about your bidders will help with this and using an instant payment process. Another thing to consider is the length of your online auction - if you want to go for something expanding more than a week then you also need to consider how you keep bidders engaged.  Text alert updates to all registered bidders can help with this as well as EDM blasts and social media marketing. Sometimes you also need something new to say though - by changing items from auction to fixed price gives people another reason to log back on to see what's on offer. Adding in further prizes can also help.

Finally, remember if it's online you need to be really clear about when the auction is closing! Advertise this on the main auction page and if for any reason you do need to change the closing time make sure you use the text all bidders features so that everyone is alerted.

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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.