Include a Centerpiece Auction for a Fundraising Bonus

You may feel like you’ve leveraged every last dollar at your major event fundraiser to make the most money for your organization—but there may be another place you haven’t looked—at the center of the table.

How Does it Work?

It’s always a great investment to have table centerpieces because that is where your event guests spend most of their time. You may be thinking about breathtaking floral arrangements, or perhaps something that ties in with your theme. Either way, these pieces can be auctioned to generate more dollars for your organization. And with one or more centerpiece sponsors you can bring in even more from the center of your tables.

Centerpieces can generate much more revenue when the emotional value is higher. Perhaps the centerpieces are from a very in-demand florist, or a signature golf course which included a round of golf — these have perceived value and are easier to sell.

Or perhaps the vase or container is a highly sought-after collector’s item. Any item that is handcrafted, such as the vase or another item that is part of the arrangement, is an easy sell, too, such as items made by students, or elderly patrons, or created by the people the organization supports. The more emotional connection there is to the centerpiece, the more likely it will sell for a higher price.
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Keep the centerpiece sale simple with a “Take Me Home” tag. Create a tag, put a price on it, number the cards to correspond with each table, and you’re done. Ask guests to take the card to checkout if they’re interested in a purchase.

Variations And Other Names

While your auctioneer can auction each of the centerpieces, it can be time consuming. Some events make an interactive game out of it.

At some point in the live auction, the auctioneer encourages one person from each table to serve as the table’s auctioneer. The table’s auctioneer will auction off the centerpiece to a guest at the table. Each table will only get one or two minutes, and the auctioneer with the highest selling price will win a nice prize—or just bragging rights. Have a card at each table for the winning bidder to write down their bid number, and price. Then have them check out with that card at the cashier station or collect the cards prior to checkout to enter into your fundraising software.
Centerpiece Auction

Darren’s Advice

  • “Right size” your centerpieces. Centerpieces can block the guests view if they are too tall and they can interfere with the dining experience if they sprawl out.
  • Keep it classy — you don’t want to appear like you’re in “everything must sell” mode like at a garage sale.

Some Personal Insight from Darren

Note: Many states have specific rules that govern auction games. Make sure to check your state’s raffle licensing laws as well as your organization’s bylaws. Also, check on alcohol sales rules and permits, as well as firearms, if those will be available at your event or in the auction.

Centerpieces are often a focal point for an event with or without a theme, committees can spend hours designing and trying to creatively work out a budget to pay for them. Once seen as an expense for decorations, with a little effort and a Centerpiece Auction, organizations can turn those table decorations into a fundraising bonus. Some organizations have the ability for their benefactors to create unique pieces of art as centerpieces. These pieces are always easy to auction due to their intrinsic emotional value.

A suggestion for organizations wanting to build additional value into centerpieces is through their local business community. By tapping into local businesses for a product or service donation that can be added to a centerpiece, your organization builds value for the donor, builds the brand for the business, and builds community for all.

What’s your favorite local ice cream shop? We all have one or two – think of how the relationship with the Ice Cream shop manger / owner will change when you offer to send them 12 new (families) customers for a year. Most local shops are always trying to lure in new customers in with a free sample or scoop of ice cream… leverage this! Ask for 12 (one per table) donations for a free “Ice Cream of the Month Club” – one free ice cream each month for a year. Include the gift into your centerpiece has added value for the donor and a great sponsorship promotion for a local vendor. It’s a Win – Win!

The twelve free ice creams that are included with each centerpiece may actually be a family of four and could result in 36 paid ice creams for the shop – because how could you not include the family with this amazing ice cream outing!

Think different!

This article is part of our 26 Proven Revenue Enhancers for Your Fundraiser eBook available as a free download. If you looking for new revenue enhancing ideas and how to incorporate them into your event—this easy-to-use lookbook is for you.

2 Responses to “Include a Centerpiece Auction for a Fundraising Bonus”

    • Dathan Montes

      Sometimes the opportunities to generate additional donations for a fundraising night are literally right in front of you…on the table! Thanks for reaching out!


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