Upping the Ante: How to Get New Items from Your Silent Auction Gift Donors

We love all our dependable silent auction donors.

Those that have always been ready and willing to donate their time, products, or services whenever called upon for your nonprofit’s auction. Their contributions have been hotly bid on in the past but, if you are noticing they are losing your bidders’ attention, maybe it’s time to request new items from your community.

Requesting new items from your silent auction gift donors can be a difficult discussion. You don’t want to make the contributors feel as though their items aren’t desirable, but you need to add new and exciting items to the auction if you want your event to maintain its reputation as a fun and exciting event. There’s a way to negotiate your way to new items from the same donors, but it may take a bit of strategy.

Start with Research

Do your research before going to your donors or fundraising board. Dig into the data you’ve collected over the last few years to see which packages were popular in the past but have since slipped in bringing in top dollar. Take a closer look at the items that have continued to be popular and which ones that have gained in popularity, too. Maybe there’s a way to capitalize on their value by adding in associated items. Presenting this information will back up your argument that new items are needed.

Schedule a meeting with the board

Make a acquisition plan prior to going to your donors and fundraising board. It doesn’t have to be a formal speech, but rather an explanation about what your research indicates and a discussion about what items are currently trending at silent auctions. Mentioning items that need to be retired and putting the focus on new items that will excite the crowd is a good strategy to avoiding giving off a negative tone when discussing the items that need to go.

  Find out more ways to make your silent auction an event your donors won’t miss by watching Greater Giving webinar “Power Up Your Auction Revenue Through Create and Strategic Refinement” with Talena Barker, CEO of Mission Limelight. She offers tips on how to evaluate the results and how to use them to improve on what you’re doing now.

Don’t point fingers

If you feel you must state the reason you need new items avoid calling out any one item, company, or person out. That could potentially put a negative spin on contributing and make your donors unwilling to contribute further. Instead, stick to talking about what items are hot and what items are not in a more general sense.

Engage Your Board and Acquisition Team in the process

Getting your donating team into the process early will help you when it comes to their willingness to go after new items. Ask your board and donors to brainstorm with you about what they would want to bid on, who they know who may want to become a new donor, and what relationships would be good to develop for future fundraising activity. Pose the question, “What would you bid on if you could have anything regardless of money or difficulty of finding it?” That is sure to bring you a wide variety of answers to explore.

Suggest some hot items

Have a list of current trends in the most wanted auction items ready to go to spur on the discussion. Food and drink and other themed gift baskets focused on specific interests, like camping or luxury items are always popular items, and travel packages and experiences, like concert tickets and whale watching excursions continue to be at the top of desired items. Once you get the conversation started your brainstorming team will probably run with ideas of their own.

Go to your donors

Once you’ve got your new items dream list set with your acquisition team consider the best ways to approach your donors. Think about asking strategies for each big item. What can you offer them for their contribution? Stretch your mind and think about alternatives that will take them by surprise. You could give them year-long advertising on your website or plan a live social media event with them when the winner of their item is using the product or participating in the experience.

Asking for new items from long-term, dependable donors can be made easy with a good plan, the research to back up your request, and an acquisition team motivated to create better relationships with donors as they go after new items. Once they see the high bids come in for their contributions, donors will trust your judgement and continue to want to work with you to find more great items to donate.

Share your thoughts