Getting donations for your nonprofit fundraising can feel overwhelming. Use our 6-step plan to get auction item donations for your next fundraiser.
You’ve got a fundraising event to plan, and it’s going to be a big one. You’re trying to figure out how to get auction items donated for your nonprofit fundraiser. You want the auction to be successful, but you don’t have the budget or staff time to track down all the donations yourself. That’s where auction procurement comes in. Auction procurement is a process of finding donors who can give you items at no cost in exchange for publicity and recognition at your event. The good news is that this strategy works! But before you begin asking around for donations, there are some steps that need taking first:
What is auction procurement?
Auction procurement is the process of finding items to auction off at the fundraising event. It’s a crucial step in fundraising because it can be difficult to get companies or individuals to donate items for you.
It’s important to make sure your nonprofit has a good relationship with companies, organizations and individuals who are willing to provide donations for your fundraising event. If you don’t have a solid relationship with these groups, then they may not be willing to help you out at all—and that means no donations for your organization!
If you’re having trouble getting item donations from potential donors, it may mean that your nonprofit hasn’t built up enough goodwill with those groups yet. You can remedy this by following the advice below:
Build relationships with these groups over time before asking them for something as big as an auction donation (this goes back into building trust).
Be clear about what types of donations you need—it might seem obvious now but things like “we’ll take any old thing” could come back later and bite you in the butt if someone offers up something too expensive or inappropriate for your event/cause.
Before you begin
Before you begin planning your auction, it’s important to do the research.
This will help you learn a lot about your market: what its interests are, what kind of products it’s interested in acquiring (and donating), and how much it thinks those products are worth—or how much it’s willing to give away as part of your event.
Find your donor.
Once you have a donor, it’s important to make sure they are the right fit for your event. There are several things to consider when choosing an auction item donor.
- Do they have an interest in supporting your cause?
- Are they likely to donate again in the future?
- Have they been involved with similar causes in the past?
Set volunteer roles and responsibilities.
Once you’ve decided what items and services to auction off, it’s time to set up a fundraising team.
This is the group of people who will be responsible for coordinating the event and making sure that everything goes smoothly on the day of your fundraiser.
It’s important that everyone in this group has clear roles and responsibilities. For example:
Who is going to work with the auctioneer? Their job will be to make sure all donated items are cataloged correctly, photographed properly, displayed at their best advantage, priced appropriately, etc., so it’s crucial that someone with experience in these areas take on this task. This person can also help plan which items should be sold first based on how long they have been stored or whether they’re still new enough to warrant their original price tags (if applicable). * What about handling bids? Will you have a traditional auction or use online bidding? If there are multiple volunteers available who can handle bids during an auction, then each person should take turns recording them during different periods throughout its duration—this prevents any one person from being constantly busy during those periods when most bidders are active (such as at lunchtime).
Prepare your solicitation materials.
It’s important that you have a good solicitation letter. Here are some tips on how to write one:
Address the letter personally. Take the time to address each solicitation individually, even if it means writing out the same information multiple times. This helps your organization stand out from others with generic letters and makes donors feel like their contribution is truly appreciated by you and your team.
Include a personal touch in every section of your solicitation materials. Include any information about the donor that might help them understand why donating an auction item would be beneficial for them. Greater Giving clients can also generate a Blank Procurement Form (UTL-04 report) in the report section which will include fields for all item, donor, and solicitation information to create your package for the event.
Send a letter of request.
A letter requesting donations from potential sponsors is a great way to get your message across. It’s also a great way to show the sponsor that you’re serious about working with them. Your letter should include:
- Start with a brief paragraph about the event, including date, time, location, and any other relevant details
- Add a paragraph about your nonprofit organization
- Include a paragraph about the donor’s company or product/service (if applicable)
- Sign off with a paragraph thanking them for their participation in the event
Schedule an appointment for your meeting.
On the day of your meeting, go to the donor’s office or home and make sure to arrive on time. The last thing you want is to be late and miss out on some valuable face time with your potential partner.
Also, keep in mind that if you’re new at fundraising events, it might be a good idea for another member of your team (preferably someone who has more experience) should come along as well. At any rate, once again…don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Follow up with donors.
Following up with donors is essential. You should:
- Send a thank you letter as soon as possible after the event. If you have time, include photos or articles about the event in your letter; these will be appreciated by your donors and may help jog their memory when it comes to donating again. You can use Greater Giving Software to keep track of thanking your donors and sponsors.
- Follow up with a phone call within a week of sending out their thank-you note. Ask if they’d like to continue supporting your non-profit organization or if they have any feedback for you. This will let them know that you care about them and are interested in hearing their thoughts on how well the event went.
- Send a small gift (like cookies) two weeks after thanking them for attending your fundraising event.
Auction procurement takes time, but it can be very successful.
Donors are busy people. They’re not always easy to find, and they’re not always easy to convince to donate. Need a boost finding popular, elaborate, exclusive and hard-to-find auction items that your guests will want? With Auction Booster items, there is no financial commitment or risk to include these highly sought after items in your auction—just start your bidding at the package price and your organization will realize any benefit over the initial bidding price.
If you’ve got a nonprofit fundraising event coming up and want an auction for your cause, there’s no time to waste!
We hope that you’ve gotten a better understanding of how to procure auction items for your nonprofit fundraising event. Remember, there are no shortcuts in this process! You need to make the time and effort to find donors and ask them for donations, but the rewards can be great if you do so successfully. Download our free resource to help you plan your next auction event.