Auction Success in a Down Economy
“We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” This mariner’s maxim reminds fundraisers to continually adapt in the face of unpredictable conditions.
In this challenging economy, now more than ever, it's vital to utilize proven best practices, new technology and fresh ideas to maximize fundraising auction efforts.
Here’s the good news: Nonprofit organizations are achieving auction success today by charting their courses on things that they can control to reverse the trends that many benefit auctions are experiencing due to the tough economy. Luckily, most fundraising auctions have many areas that are not yet optimized for maximum results. In other words, by working smarter, you can keep your auction proceeds strong.
To navigate economic challenges and raise more auction profit, set a course on these four critical directions.
1. Focus on your mission
The most important aspect of a fundraising auction is making sure all your guests understand exactly where the money raised is going and how much will go to support your cause.
As fundraising consultant Sharon Danosky, president of Danosky & Associates, said during a recent workshop, "People do not give to needy organizations; they give to lofty causes that can make a difference."
First and foremost, brand your mission. With a captive audience for the entire evening, ensure that everyone understands exactly how you help your clients and your community.
The key is to be explicit about your cause in every auction communication and promotion: mailings, newsletters, save-the-date cards, invitations, catalogs and even auction forms. On auction night, place banners and photos that showcase your programs and services all around the auction venue and stage.
Place informative table tents on the dinner tables and in between each silent auction item. Showcase how you are making a difference and how your supporters are part of the solution.
2. Deepen relationships — cultivate!
In addition to raising money, benefit auctions provide an extraordinary platform for friendraising, too. Remember, people give to people for causes they care about. So make it easy for your supporters to bid higher.
A nonprofit auction provides a momentous opportunity to deepen relationships with guests, sponsors, members, boards of directors, trustees, prospective donors and, yes, volunteers, too.
Here are a few cultivation ideas for your next auction:
- Several weeks prior to the event, hold a preauction reception where you and your board members can personally meet major donors, sponsors and prospective VIP guests, highlight your cause, and preview key auction items.
- During the silent auction, ask your board and auction committee members to personally greet five guests they do not know and welcome them to the auction. Empower your supporters with a personal connection; reach out to make sure they understand how their contributions will benefit your clients and your community.
- Approach the auction as a cultivation event and you will ensure that your auction will be a catalyst for future giving, such as your annual appeal, major gifts, planned giving and capital campaigns. By deepening relationships with auction supporters, you invite investment and involvement far beyond auction night.