Would you believe I starred in the Nutcracker Ballet as the Snow Queen? Courtesy of a fabulous benefit auction item!
It’s true. For this prestigious walk-on role, my 15 seconds of fame included a dramatic entrance in a faux-ermine floor-length cape and tiara. As I waved adieu, sugar plum fairies and mouse soldiers bowed deeply to me and pirouetted away. I treasure that unique experience, thanks to a creative auction item for Newport Rhode Island’s contemporary ballet company, Island Moving Company. Now, that’s making money out of thin air!
Do you crave fresh innovative fundraising auction items that get bid cards flying? Consider creative no-cost auction items that are fun, experiential, and match your audience interests that guests can’t get anywhere else.
Consider these benefits. These “out of thin air” charity auction items can build a deeper emotional connection to your organization, take on a life of their own, and produce bidder honor, loyalty and big profits.
Five Minute Maestro! How about guest conductor in an orchestra? You can put this together for your local orchestra or even for regional or national orchestras. What about an arts and culture event where there is a performance element? During the 1812 Overture, your high bidder can play the cymbals or the timpani kettle drum! Walk-on roles in the theater or opera are excellent experiential auction items that cost you nothing. Take a look at what opportunities are in your area, especially if you are part of a music, arts, or culture group. You already have a lot of contacts within your own organization and community!
Even though these special auction items have zero or low cost, place them in your Live Auction for maximum excitement and funds. For example, several years ago, I conducted a fundraising auction in New York State for Saratoga Economic Development Council with an incredibly unique item: the right to name the next newborn baby dairy calf at a local farm. I opened the bidding at $100. Bidding took off; two power bidders emerged in a frenzy to name the little heifer. I dropped the hammer at $1,000 amidst exuberant cheering. Just as I said “sold”, the donor, Jane the dairy farm owner ran up to me with a basket of cheese and whispered in my ear, “Kathy, sell two! Bessie just had twins!” Instantly, we raised $2,000 for the organization’s food pantry. In this case, it was a complete surprise because little did we know that the calves had been born at the time of the auction. What is the moral of that story? TWINS! Go ahead — double your “out of thin air” packages — just ask.
Achieve Immortality with this auction item. How about the highest bidder’s name as a character in the next book by a famous author or children’s book? Bring a lot of excitement and dollars to your auction. The high bidder could be the hero or the heroine or even the villain in the next story. The author might use the buyer’s real name. Here is a really great imaginative variation. What about your dog’s name in a famous author’s next book? This can really be a lot of fun. It is always good to check your connections. Even if you do not have an existing connection with an author, go ahead and contact those favorite authors.
For the love of animals! What about a creative customized pet package? For example, the auction package could include the opportunity to be a grand marshal in a walk for pets, a cover photo on the annual pet calendar, a special collar, a special cape, and an opportunity to be a judge in a pet contest. How about featuring your favorite four-legged friend on the front of a catalog or calendar? Or create return address mailing labels with your pet’s photo!
Think about what you can add to your auction fundraiser to make it even more fun, profitable, and unusual. We’d love to hear all of your ideas about how to make money out of thin air. Share you best ones in the comments section!
As a thank you, please enjoy these special gift to help you maximize your fundraising. Just go to www.MaximizeYourFundraising.com for a Special Report on Best Selling Auction Items including my list of my favorite high profit auction items, Record Breaking Fundraising Auction Tips Booklets and my Special Report: Triumph over Charity Auction Challenges.
By Kathy Kingston, CAI, BAS
Kingston Auction Company, LLC is the premier resource for record-breaking fundraising auctioneers, consulting, education & strategies.
From the planning stages, to event night, to reconciliation, Greater Giving offers a complete end-to-end solution—resulting in increased revenue for your organization. Greater Giving provides an all-in-one solution to manage all the details of your fundraisers year-round—from auctions with live or online bidding, to registration and donations, to athons and more, we’ve got you covered. Our solutions are easy to set-up and train volunteers and staff. With no limit to users, number of events, or support—we’ll help you reduce costs and save valuable time. Collecting credit card data at an event is easy as a swipe with Greater Giving USB and mobile card readers. And, with data exchange, you will be able to interface with most donor management software—keeping all of your donor data connected.
Three of my 9 grandchildren attend a local VERY SMALL catholic school. It serves 60 kids, pre school through 5th grade. Each year, the operating budget is tighter, and parents/grandparents have to search for more creative ways to make ends meet. Our operating budget is $400,000.00 and we get NO federal or state monies. Generous donors have kept the school alive for many years, but now they are aging, and many no longer live in this community. We really need some help. The school may close its doors after many years, and what a loss this would be for the children.
Thank you for reaching out and caring enough to research ways to help your local school. Our Pinterest page (https://pinterest.com/greatergiving/) is full of fresh fundraising event ideas, themes, tips and more. Also, part of our Reaching Diverse Donors Series, we have an article titled “Engaging Younger Donors” (https://blog.greatergiving.com/reaching-diverse-donors-series-engaging-younger-donors/) that speaks to some of the issues you mention. Lastly, Greater Giving’s Online Payments tool (https://greatergiving.com/en/solutions/online-payments) provides an easy to implement option for donors not in the community to give online year-round.
We have a bi-annual auction and so far have done well. One thing we do is called a Reverse Auction. Those who bid actually walk away with nothing other than the satisfaction that they have helped. It goes like this… A few years ago our school was in dire need of new desks and chairs. It would cost about $14,000. So we asked if anyone was willing to bid $14,000 to pay for the desks. If no one bid, then we’d ask if there two bidders willing to bid $7,000. We’ve done this at each auction and within a small handful of bidders our much needed item is paid for.
Rebecca, We love hearing the success stories from other non-profits, thank you so much for sharing your schools Reverse Auction, it sounds like it has been working out well. Here is a recent article on auction packages we hope you find useful or share – https://blog.greatergiving.com/what-everyone-should-know-about-auction-items/ .
One of our most unique “money out of thin air” auction items was the chance to choose the theme for the next year’s gala.