Wine Auction for Your Fundraiser

Wine is one of the most popular items to sell at fundraising benefit auction events.  Remember to check your state laws regarding selling wine at fundraisers as some states have laws prohibiting it and others have none at all (another great reason to have a professional benefit auctioneer handle your auction).  

There are many ways to sell wine at your fundraising auction event.  Here are a few:

1.  Wall of Wine.  Visit this link by Debby Roth-Bush of Greater Giving for great Wall of Wine ideas: 

2.  Wine in your live auction.  There are several ways to auction off wine in your live auction.  You can sell premier wines by the bottle, you can sell wine tasting trips, or you can sell wine by the case.  All of these methods tend to do extremely well at fundraising auctions.
3.  Wine in your silent auction.  Similar to a live auction you can sell wine in just about any way imaginable.  We have seen a lot of success by selling fine wines by the bottle in the silent auction and then delivering them to the winning bidders’ tables at dinner (check the venue for corking fees).
4.  Wine as a raffle item.  Bottles of wine, wine tastings and cases of wine can be raffled off at your fundraising event as well (once again check with your state laws on wine sales and raffle rules).

All and all, wine is an excellent choice for fundraising events and tends to do extremely well at auctions benefiting your great cause.

Contact Elite Auctions and Fundraising Services today to find out how to incorporate wine into your benefit auction event.

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

What Most People Don’t Know about Working with a Great Benefit Auctioneer

A great benefit auctioneer is involved in the planning months in advance.

Most people that attend fundraising events see an auctioneer up on stage chanting away to raise funds for a great cause, and it appears to be seamless for a good benefit auctioneer. What they don’t see are the countless hours in consultation and setup that it took to get to the fabulous auction. The day of the fundraising auction event is just a tiny piece of the pie. 

I like to compare a good fundraising auctioneer’s job to an iceberg, 90% of it is underwater and only 10% (the part you see) is above water. If you have an auctioneer that is simply showing up the night of the event and getting on stage (the 10% of the iceberg above the water) then you are probably leaving a ton of money on the table. In order to maximize your event’s revenue you must diligently work for several months leading up the event (the 90% of the iceberg below water). 

Remember, a great benefit auctioneer will be part of your planning process as well. Be very careful with having an auctioneer just show up the day of your event with no prior engagement in your planning process. Always use a professional benefit auctioneer versus a volunteer! 

13 Tips for Your Live Auction Fundraiser

1.  Always have your professional auctioneer help you with putting the live auction items in the best order.

2.  Live auction should be no longer than 45 minutes, but preferably 30 minutes.  It takes approximately 2-3 minutes to sell each item.

3.  It is very important to schedule the live auction early in your program. You want the bidders awake and energetic

4.  We recommend having the live auction during dinner.

5.  At events where there is little to no seating for the bidders it is very difficult to get the best results from your live auction.
6.  Make sure you have recorders in place to write down the winning bidder numbers and amounts (We recommend having 3 recorders, pre-designing the recorder sheets, and allowing us to meet with the recorders prior to the beginning of the event).

7.  Find out if any of the items can be sold twice and let us know.
8.  Inform us if any of the items have reserve/consignment amounts.
9.  We recommend utilizing professional bid spotters (ringmen) during your live auction (1 ringman per 100-150 guests is optimal).

10.  Allow your professional auctioneer to set starting bids and control the increments of the auction.

11.  Make sure that the house lights are brought up and spot lights down so that your auctioneer can see the bidders.

12.  Be careful with consignment items in your live auction.   

13.  Consult with us before choosing consignment items as they can many times take a lot of revenue out of your auction.  We can recommend good consignment companies that we trust.

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

How to Raise More Money from Your Donation Web Pages

When it comes to raising money from your donation pages I think every bit of advice can help.  Here are some suggestions from the blog of John Haydon’s: “19 Ways to Raise More Money From Your Donation Pages.”

This should get your donation page on track:

  1. Ditch the vintage PayPal button
  2. Write a powerful headline
  3. Use fewer words – Only focus on your story and your call-to-action
  4. Limit paragraphs to 2-3 sentences
  5. Use pictures
  6. Use white space to direct the eye
  7. Remove the sidebars and navigation menue
  8. Reduce steps to donate
  9. Only ask for what’s required
  10. Write copy in second person narrative – The word “you”
  11. Pick on call to action
  12. Repeat the CTA three times
  13. Use bullet points and numbered items
  14. Use big fonts
  15. Use big buttons
  16. Keep it above the fold
  17. Make it mobile
  18. Optimize your donation pages for search engines
  19. Create a seamless donor experience across all marketing channels

Written by Tracy Karbus of Elite Auctions & Fundraising Services with information from John Haydon.

What’s in it for them… and you?

When it comes to creating outreach materials it is so easy to become overwhelmed by the pressure of meeting and exceeding goals that one can forget about the receiver of the solicitation.  Here are a few donor focused tips to ponder as you take a swim in the ocean this summer:

1.  Ask yourself, if this was sent to me how would I respond?

2.  Get into their heads, their hearts, and what makes their world spin (Yes, you have to do homework on this one).

3.  Make sure you’re offering a solution to the problem as the donor understands it, not as you do.

4.  Make sure this applies to all of your outreach, not just the written word.

5.  Now, go for a swim, climb a mountain, read a good book, or just unplug at least once this summer.  You need to re-energize your batteries too.

Written by Tracy Karbus Fundraising Consultant with Elite Auctions & Fundraising Services

Hiring a Professional Fundraising Auctioneer & Consultant?

What you think you’re paying for:
  • Someone who can call an auction
What you’re actually paying for:
  • Someone who can get on stage and maximize your items’ values while promoting your cause
  • Provide consulting throughout the year for your event
  • Design and conduct a winning fund a need
  • Answer any questions surrounding your fundraising efforts
  • Provide professionally trained bid assistants
  • Organize a timeline to maximize your event revenue
  • Put your auction items in their most effective order
  • Training on donor development
  • Training on procurement
  • How to set up your venue to maximize returns
  • Auction event marketing techniques
  • Access to several revenue enhancers to increase your event’s bottom line
  • How to run the most successful silent auction
  • Which items you should be obtaining for your audience
  • How to effectively check-in and checkout attendees
  • Committee consultations
  • Volunteer training
  • Access to exclusive auction items
  • Licensed and bonded auctioneers
  • Event follow-up meeting

Still think that hiring a professional auctioneer is expensive?

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR – So if you hire a cheap auctioneer or go with a volunteer, don’t be surprised when your results aren’t what you wanted!

Please share this and help spread the message so that non-profits and schools can raise the most revenue possible for their great causes.
Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS of Elite Auctions & Fundraising Services

Have a Thank-A-Thon with Your Donors After Your Fundraising Auction Event

We all understand, or should understand, that thanking your donors after your fundraising auction event has concluded is an absolute must.  However, the way that you thank your donors for their generous contributions to help your cause is so very important.  Many organizations simply send out a form letter showing what was purchased/donated and a generic message thanking the donor for their contribution.  This is obviously a good idea for their tax purposes, but how personal is this for the donor and does it make them feel special?

Imagine being a donor that just gave $5,000 or $1,000 or $250 of your hard-earned money to a cause that you believe in and just receiving this form letter, which is really a must for tax purposes anyway.  Do you feel special in any way?  Do you feel that the organization values your participation in such an important event?  Do you have any excitement or feeling of obligation to attend their next event?  In some cases yes, but in most cases not really.

I suggest that you get together your entire board and staff and have a Thank-A-Thon party.  Provide some food and beverages for your board and staff and start calling your donors on the phone.  Spend 30 seconds to a minute explaining how thankful your organization is for their donation and how the funds will be utilized to better your cause.  The purpose of this call is not to ask for anything but to simply thank your donors and inform them of how the funds will be or are being utilized to better your cause.  If the donor does not answer just leave them a message, no need to keep calling until they answer.   If you had 150 people give at your event then a board and staff of 10 people have to spend about 15-20 minutes each or about 15 phone calls each. 

Most organizations do not do this simple step, so imagine how much this will put you in the minds’ of your donors versus other organizations that they give to throughout the year.  Simply put, it makes them feel special and valued which can many times equate to future support.

Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS

Motivational Speakers at Your Fundraising Auction Event

Condoleezza Rice speaks at the Solutions for Change Auction
There are two very important segments of the event that a good motivational speaker is needed… before the live auction and before the fund-a-need.  The speaker prior to the start of the live auction should be someone that can somewhat educate the crowd about the cause and share a personal experience to get the crowd emotional.  Getting members of the crowd to “tear up” is always a good thing.  This speech should not exceed 2-3 minutes and the live auction should begin promptly following.  Videos are okay to utilize for this but they have to be great not good.  

The second speaker should come on following the live auction just prior to the fund-a-need.  This speaker needs to be extremely passionate, as the crowd is many times drained from the live auction that just took place.  The speaker must re-energize the crowd and talk about what specifically the fund-a-need dollars will represent (i.e. building a new structure for the organization to help kids, funding a specific cause, etc.).  I have found that younger teenagers or children that are good in front of people and have a personal impact experience to share are excellent for this speech.  Once again, a video can be used here but it must be great not good.  If you used a video for the first slot then try to have a live speaker for the second and vice versa. 

Motivational speakers are imperative to the success of your live auction and fund-a-need.  You can do without them but don’t expect incredible results.  As you can see so far, there are a lot of small elements that all add up to a big result.
Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS

How should volunteers be utilized at my Fundraising Auction Event?

Volunteers are an extremely important part of your
fundraising event!!  Here are a list of “jobs” that your volunteers need to be placed in for optimal success from Mike Grigg at Elite Auctions & Fundraising Services:

  • Live auction and fund a need recorders.  We recommend that you utilize three volunteers in this position to eliminate errors when recording winning bid amounts and donation amounts.  Make sure your professional auctioneer has a “pow-wow” with the recorders prior to the live auction and fund a need.
  • Selling raffle tickets or entries to games.  Always put your volunteers in teams of two to maximize their efficiency.  If you have raffles or games going on at your event then send out 2-3 teams of two to sell those tickets or buy in opportunities.  You want aggressive volunteers that are going to sell not just stand in a corner and chat with friends.
  • Check-in and check out.  You will need several volunteers to assist with checking in and out your guests.  This number varies dependent upon how many guests you have coming to your event.
  • Silent Auction Assistants.  You will need about two volunteers per silent auction table to answer questions, assist with set up, and shutting down silent auction.  These volunteers will need to be able to get bid sheets off the table as soon as auctioneer closes the silent auction, and then move items (if needed) to the proper check out area.
  • We recommend that you use professional ringmen rather than have volunteers as your bid spotters.  Professional ringmen are trained to get the best result from your bidders and leaving this up to volunteers simply causes more chaos than assistance.
  • Obviously, you will need volunteers to help with setting up and taking down your entire event as well.

Volunteers that are not used or managed in the proper way can cause more problems than they help with, therefore make sure you have a manager in charge of training your volunteers.  Also, don’t give each volunteer too much to do; If you overwhelm your volunteers they become less effective.  Good luck with your fundraising events and always make sure to hire a professional auctioneer/consultant to maximize your fundraising results!

Written by Mike Grigg, AARE, BAS with Elite Auctions & Fundraising Services