One of the hardest things to do when you’re planning an auction is to procure those hot items you know your audience wants—items so unique they can’t be found anywhere else.
If you’re lucky, you already have an established group of donors who, year after year, give you exactly what you’re looking for. Yet the majority of nonprofits struggle with getting beyond the most basic donations, such as spa gift certificates and vacation homes.
If your procurement committee is short on time and/or resources, you may want to consider utilizing a vendor for procurement services. Professional auctioneers and event planners often provide these services for a fee. They’ll be able to provide “insider expertise,” because they attend many different auctions throughout the year and see which items are top sellers. They’ll also be able to give you a realistic estimate of the revenue your projected items will bring at auction.
If you’re working on procurement with a professional auctioneer or event planner, ask them to advise you regarding these procurement-related topics: item wish lists, procurement pitfalls, merchants to target, dividing items between the silent and live auctions, procurement strategies, and appraising item value. If they have connections to consignors, procurement vendors and reputable donors, ask them to provide you with their contact list or a referral.
Greater Giving also offers a unique alternative to supplementing your auction items with Auction Booster—difficult-to-procure, unique experiences and travel packages. The process is really easy: review the available packages online, reserve the packages that you feel will appeal to your guests, sell them at your event, and order online after your event. Your organization keeps the difference between the winning bid and the package cost. And if a package doesn’t sell, there’s no cost to your organization.
A unique package that commanded attention was “Fighter Pilot for a Day”. The package includes four nights at a luxury hotel, airfare for two, and the experience of co-piloting a fighter jet.
Greater Giving client Roaring Fork Conservancy used the Fighter Pilot and the Open Wheel Racing packages to push their fundraising to a new level at their auction. They added the packages at the last minute because they felt their usual items were getting stale. During the live auction their audience got so excited when the items were announced that the Fighter Pilot package sold twice and the Open Wheel Racing package sold four times—resulting in $38K in additional revenue for the cause!
Here’s a tip: take stock of overall procurement status monthly up to three months before the event date, every other week up to one month before the event date, and at least twice a week for the four weeks prior to the event. And don’t be afraid to mix it up with some new and exciting items which will give procurement and your bottom line a boost!