7 Things You Should Know About Conducting a Successful Fund a Need or Special Appeal at Your Fundraising Event

1.  What is a Fund a Need or Special Appeal?

A Fund a Need (aka: Special Appeal, The Ask, Cash Ask, Fund a Mission, etc.) is the single most important fundraising technique at your benefit event, whether you do silent and live auctions or not.  The fund a need is a completely different fundraising aspect than your silent auction, live auction or other revenue enhancers.  It allows your donors to give a cash amount at a specific level to help fund a specific need or needs that your nonprofit or school has.

2.  What should the fund a need benefit?

This is your opportunity to ask your donors to give at specific levels to fund your Nonprofit’s biggest need for the upcoming year.  For example: If you are a school and need to purchase iPads for the 6th graders, this would be a perfect fit for fund a need.

3.  How should we determine the different levels for our donors to give?

We at Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services believe that you should do no more than six levels beginning high and working to low.  The first high level should be determined prior to the fundraising event with one of your larger donors so that there are no crickets in the room when your professional fundraising auctioneer begins the ask.  Once you have established your high level, work with your professional auctioneer to determine how many and which levels should follow.

4.  When should you conduct a fund a need?

The fund a need should be done at every single fundraising event that you conduct where you will have an opportunity to be in front of your donors in a sit-down environment.  The beauty of a fund a need is that you do not have to do any other fundraising elements, and you do not have to procure items to conduct one successfully.  It is simply your donors showing their support of your cause.

5.  Who should conduct the fund a need?

A fund a need must be conducted by a professional benefit auctioneer, preferably by a designated Benefit Auctioneer Specialist (BAS) to get the most desirable results.  There is a definite formula for success here and a professional will more than pay for themselves!

6.  Should we use mobile devices or electronic giving for our fund a need?

The simple answer is NO!  The success of a fund a need depends largely on emotion and a group of people giving together to fund a great cause.  Using mobile devices to give takes out almost all of the emotion and generally produces mediocre results compared to a traditional appeal using a qualified professional charity auctioneer.

7.  Why is the fund a need important?

The fund a need is important for many reasons.  The top two reasons are that it raises funds that would otherwise “walk out” of your event and it enables you to determine who your biggest supporters are.  Knowing who your biggest supporters are is essential to having fundraising success in the future, but that’s an entirely different blog for another time.

Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS of Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services


What can Auction-tainment do for your Fundraising Auction Event?

Are you looking for a way to spice up your live auction?  Then Auction-tainment is for you!  My favorite way to utilize auction-tainment is by having a professional sound technician play a snippet of music when the auctioneer says sold.  It works best to plan this ahead of time and make the music match the item.  For example, imagine your professional auctioneer selling a suite at a baseball game and as he says “SOLD”, Take Me Out to the Ballgame comes on for about 5-10 seconds as the auctioneer transitions into the next item.  It keeps your audience entertained, engaged and energized (The three E’s).  This approach can be done as you open an item as well.  However, it must be accomplished with a professional auctioneer and sound tech in order to have the full effect and not seem corny. 

Auction-tainment can be done in many forms, utilizing what works best for your audience.  If you are a theater group, actors can be incorporated into the live auction.  If you are a school, the band can be showcased during the live auction. 

While a professional benefit auctioneer will improve your bottom line by leaps and bounds, auction-tainment can take your event to a much more memorable experience for your donors and keep them coming back for years to come!

Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS of Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services

Why are Silent Auctions dwindling at Fundraisers?

We are noticing more and more nonprofits eliminating their silent auctions from their key fundraising auction events.  When we ask what the reasons are, these are the most common remarks:

1.  “They require too much work and manpower.”
2.  “We don’t raise that much money with the silent auction.”
3.  “We don’t have enough volunteers to run it successfully.”
4.  “It complicates the check out process.”

All in all, some nonprofits are saying that their silent auctions aren’t raising enough revenue to justify the work involved to put on a successful silent auction.

So you may ask: “What do we at Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services think about this?”  It’s quite simple actually, we think whatever makes the most sense for the individual nonprofits that we work with.  There are several alternative ways to generate equal or more revenue than a silent auction produces with much less work, volunteer participation and the dreaded Check Out Armageddon.  However, if nonprofits still want to conduct silent auctions we are all for it, and in fact have several proven programs to astronomically increase revenue brought in at the silent auction.

While we have noticed that approximately 30% of our clients have eliminated the silent auction aspect (up from about 15% three years ago), there are still several organizations that are sticking with it.  Either way, Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services have proven techniques to increase revenue in both areas, just visit our website at www.EliteFundraisingAuctions.com to find out more!

Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS of Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services

What is a Benefit Auctioneer Specialist?

A fundraising auctioneer that goes the extra mile to earn his or her BAS designation is an auctioneer that you want working for your event.  Not only do they receive special training that very few auctioneers attain, but this also is a great indicator of an auctioneer that will do whatever it takes to be on the cutting edge of the fundraising auction professional spectrum.  

The following is the definition of Benefit Auctioneer Specialist (BAS) from the National Auctioneers Association:

[BAS is a two-part educational program which trains auction professionals to enhance their services to clients.  Coursework focuses on the fundraising components of the benefit auction event, item acquisition, audience development, additional revenue items, contractual agreements, and public relations.

The BAS program is offered through the National Auctioneers Association (NAA) Education Institute and is taught by nationally recognized Auctioneers and professionals who serve the benefit auction industry.
Earning the BAS designation requires not only completion of the coursework, but also testing, submission of specialized reports and various experiential projects. 

As a BAS graduate, we are among the less than one percent of Auctioneers throughout North America with specialized training in benefit auctions.  To maintain this designation, each auctioneer and fundraising consultant holding a BAS designation must complete 24 additional hours of continuing education courses every three years.]

Here at Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services we are committed to staying on top of the latest trends so that we can provide the best possible service to all of our clients.  We are proud to have the BAS designation behind our names and I would highly recommend that you utilize an auctioneer for your fundraising auction event that is also BAS designated.

Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS of Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services

Are You Looking for a “Magic Pill” to bring in MORE MONEY at Your Fundraising Auction?

We all know that a “Magic Pill” doesn’t exist in the physical sense, but what if I tell you that doing one simple thing could double or triple your fundraising auction revenue; would you believe in a “magic pill” then? 

There are so many facets that make up a successful fundraising event: great venue, good food, dedicated board, etc.  I can speak for us at Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services when I tell you that our team of dedicated fundraising professionals will take your revenue to the next level and you will think that you just took a magic pill.  We have time and time again proven that we can consistently increase revenue to double or triple what the previous volunteer auctioneer was able to attain.  We do this with pre-event consulting.  We don’t just show up the day of the event and you hand us a list of auction items and off we go… this is how you guarantee poor results!  We work with your committees and board up to a year in advance and guide you through every up and down of the fundraising event roller coaster with simple, yet effective techniques that guarantee to show you spectacular results.  Click Here to find out what consulting will give your organization. 

The greatest thing about our “Magic Pill” approach is that we have a super secret way that we actually pay you to hire us… Visit our website to find out how to get one of these “Magic Pills” for your next fundraising auction event!!  EliteFundraisingAuctions.com

Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS of Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services

Free Fundraising Auctioneer

So you are planning a fundraising auction event for a nonprofit or school and you need an auctioneer, but you are limited on budget and one of your board members knows a guy that knows a guy that will come do your auction for free.  You agree to this and the big night comes, with all the planning completed, all the money spent on venue, food, décor, DJ, sound services and equipment, etc. and you have high hopes for a record breaking year.  The free auctioneer gets on stage and barely knows what your nonprofit stands for, was just handed a list of auction items an hour prior, and has had a few cocktails because you told him if he came for free that you’d give him and a guest a couple spots at a table.  He is more in a guest mentality than a worker mentality.  Many times he doesn’t have any benefit auction training or experience and you are entrusting this guy to raise you thousands of dollars?  

More than likely your fundraising efforts will be a flop, you might have a great party, but your fundraising will fall short nine times out of ten.  

Professional benefit auctioneers are not only a part of your event that night but far in advance of your event as well.  This planning and consulting is what brings your event to the next level.  If you hire a professional benefit auctioneer he or she will show you creative and effective ways to bring in more funds than you would have ever imagined!  The extra funds will far out way the cost of doing business with that auctioneer and make your guests leave the event wanting to attend the next one.  A professional fundraising auctioneer, in essence, will pay you to hire him/her so you are not only saving money, you are making money!  

I leave you with one question:  “If I could show you one technique that would make you more money than my fee, would you hire me?”

Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS of Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services

What are the BEST Months to hold a Fundraising Auction?

So, what month should you hold your fundraising auction event?  There really is no completely correct answer here, however I would suggest that you consider holding your event in mid-February or early June.  The reason being is that most other nonprofits hold their events in March-May and September-early November so you will cut down your possibility of having competing events on the same night. 

The advantage to February is that you will be one of the first benefit auction events of the year!  Many businesses and people attend multiple charity events throughout the year and allocate a certain amount of funds to be given to nonprofits.  By being the first event of the year you will have first “dibs” at those allocated funds and be able to set off the fundraising season. 

The advantage to June is the simple fact that most of the Spring events are completed and you will have less competing events on the day that you choose, also you will be ahead of the Fall fundraising curve as well.  I would also suggest considering a Friday night event to avoid competition; this also allows your guests the entire weekend to travel, relax or do what they want to do with their weekend.

I don’t want any of you to think that because your event is at a different time of year it won’t be successful because that is dead wrong; this blog is simply designed to open your eyes about other alternatives that will work for your event.  You can have a successful event any time of year, it mostly depends on what type of donors you can get in the room and having a professionally run event.  Check this blog out for more information regarding “The Most Important Ingredient to a Successful Fundraising Event.”

Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS of Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services

What is the most important ingredient to a successful fundraising event?

Is the most important ingredient the type of live auction items or what kind of food you serve or how many silent auction items you have, etc.?  While all these are important, the answer is NO!  The single most important ingredient for a successful fundraising event is having the right people in the room. 

So you may ask “Who are the right people?”  These are simply the people that believe in your cause and have the means and desire to support your cause through monetary giving (Whether that be in a silent auction, live auction, fund a need, or any other type of revenue enhancer.  


This sounds so simple yet many organizations get away from this and focus on the party.  Your event should be seen as an opportunity to raise as much money as possible and spread your Nonprofit’s message.  If your guests are coming just to have dinner and not support your cause monetarily then you are missing your opportunity to have a super successful charitable event.

Quite simply, you are looking for QUALITY NOT QUANTITY.  

You would rather have 150 guests with the means to support your cause than 500 guests who are there for the party or there because the boss gave them tickets.  For example, if you take those 150 attendees that have the means to support your cause and they give an average of $500 per person then your organization would raise $75,000; not to mention the fact that you will pay less for your venue, less for your food and less for your beverages, ultimately raising your net.  If you take the 500 guests that were mostly given tickets (i.e. from bosses, friends, etc.) and most of them don’t have the means to support your cause, you may be lucky to have them give an average of $100 per person.  This equates to $50,000, which is 50% less than the example above.  Your net figure is also going to be much lower because you will need a larger venue, more food and more beverages.

When your committee sits down for its first meeting, the primary objective should be putting people with the means and desire to support your cause in the seats!

Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS of Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services

What Food Should You Serve at Your Next Fundraising Auction Event?

Just about all of us love to eat and what you serve can have a definite impact on what you raise when it comes to fundraising auction events.  If you are wanting to raise a substantial amount of funds then serve your donors high quality food like steak, lobster, prawns, etc.  It definitely sets a subconscious message to your guests for the auction and fund a need giving.  This all depends on the style of event you have of course, but I’m speaking in more of a general sense. We always recommend a plated dinner versus a buffet which you can read more about HERE.  The picture to the left (from gorare.com) screams high class and high value, which is the mindset you want your bidders in when they are about to donate to your important cause.

Another piece of advice is to stay away from desserts that involve ice cream for the simple fact that ice cream can easily melt, and you never know the exact amount of time dessert may be put on hold to finish fundraising efforts.

Overall, if you are having a classy event that you are expecting large donor participation at high levels then serve them a great meal so they know you appreciate their generosity and count on them to return the generosity when they give.

Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS of Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services

What Should Your Nonprofit Organization be doing in the “Off-Season”?

We all know that the Fall fundraising season just came to a close and everyone is in holiday mode now.  All I can say is DO NOT wait to start planning, procuring and cultivating your donor list until the last 2 months prior to your next benefit auction event!  Here are three simple things you can do in the “off-season” to start planning for your next charity auction event:

1.  Cultivate your donor list – Start making those important phone calls and contacts to your donors that generously gave at your last event.  You don’t have to start asking for more at this point, just thank them for their donation and start to develop a relationship with them.  Don’t just call them when your next event is approaching and ask for money or items; this looks like you only care about them when you need something!  Really try to get to know them and take some notes as you talk to them to remind you for future calls.

2.  Hire your professional fundraising auctioneer and consultant – Good auctioneers book up extremely quickly, many times 8 months to a year in advance!  DO NOT WAIT TO BOOK THEM OR YOU MIGHT NOT GET TO WORK WITH YOUR FAVORITE AUCTIONEER!  I recommend booking your benefit auctioneer immediately following your last event if you were happy with the service they provided.

3.  Start to procure for items – It’s never too early to start procuring items for your next event.  In fact, you have a great opportunity to ask for items or help getting items for your next event as you stay in touch with your donors and build those relationships (not necessarily the first phone call thanking them for their participation).

There are obviously many things you should be prepping for in regards to your next fundraising auction event, but these are three simple things that you absolutely should be doing well in advance to ease the panic when your event is right around the corner.  

Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS of Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services