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Fundraising and Charity Auctions

Below you will find all of our past articles to help you with your fundraising and charity auctions. It is a long list of articles so don't hesitate to bookmark this page and come back often. If you would like more great fundraising information in the future then please sign up for an email notification whenever we publish a new article.


Silent Auction Guide & Toolkit (Ebook)
Learn how to create a successful silent auction fundraiser. Silent auction strategies, timelines, auction items and how to organize and display them, how to close an auction and take payments, and other add on fundraisers to boost the bottom line.

Secrets of the Charity Auction Experts (Ebook)
Learn from the experts! Discover the best selling auction items. How to get auction items donated. How to boost attendance. How to get more bids and higher selling prices. How to coordinating volunteers, staff and auction consultants.


Fundraising Auctions: Cold Calling by John & Maureen Winter

Personal contact is the best way to approach perspective donors.

Most of us do not like to "cold call," and it would surprise your committee to discover how many contacts they have without knowing it. Remind yourself how many times you have been called to contribute, buy a raffle ticket or make a donation.

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How To Hold A Successful Fundraising Auction by Walt Kolenda

What's the most important aspect of your fundraising event?

If you're like most coordinators, the obvious answer to you would be revenue generation, right? While that's of course a good answer, I would say the most important things about your event are to make it exciting and to bring members into the fold. If you make these your goals, then the money raised will increase dramatically, at the same time generating good will and exposure for your organization.

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Fundraising Silent Auction Bid Sheets by Maureen and John Winter

The silent auction fundraiser often accounts for 50-100% of your fundraising auction revenue and the single most import ingredient to maximum your income is the bid sheet. To be most productive the bid sheet should contain:

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Hot Items for Your Charity Auction Fundraiser by Deane Brengle

Procurement is perhaps the most important part of planning your charity's fundraising auction. The success of your auction depends on the value and demand for items up for bid. Your team in charge of procurement should be looking for items, experiences, and activities that are not easily purchased. These will have greater value and will encourage people to attend the event.

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IRS Rules and Your Charity Auction Fundraiser by Deane Brengle

Do you know the IRS rules and regulations that pertain to charity auction fundraisers? Do your donors?

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The Fundraising Auction Office by Maureen and John Winter

Create your own personal space! Scout about your organization or institution, find an empty office or nook and cranny, and call it your own. Publicize its existence and encourage volunteers and interested parties to stop by and say "hello." Hold small meetings there, and if you have enough volunteers, staff it during office hours to receive calls and donations and to spearhead activities.

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The Chinese Auction by Maureen and John Winter

If you are looking to put a new spin on an old event, why not try a Chinese Auction? No, it's not an auction targeted at a specific community, but rather an event which includes elements of a raffle and an auction, where participants buy chances to win auction prizes.

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Fundraising Live Auction Bidding by Maureen and John Winter

Previously we dealt with the need to use a professional auctioneer for your live auction. Now a few hints on the bidding process.

All eyes and ears are on the auctioneer and the bidding has begun. Once the gavel is raised ....

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How to Obtain Fundraising Auction Donations by Maureen and John Winter

An auction is only as good as the items you have to sell. Here are some quick tips to follow for getting donations.

Business Donations

A business that donates will be listed in the auction catalog, and its merchandise or gift certificate will be displayed at the event, where it will be viewed by hundreds of people.

First call the company and find ....

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Finding Corporate Donors for Fundraising Auctions by Maureen and John Winter

Most large corporations and chain stores make auction donations from their central office. The larger the business, the larger the potential gift—and usually the more red tape to deal with. Sometimes you will hit pay dirt with your first phone call, but more often you'll have to combine a dozen or so calls, letters, and appointments to get the job done. It's worth the effort.

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Using the Bell Curve in Fundraising Auctions by Danielle Hamilton

Auctions are a lively fundraiser option, either as a stand alone event or as part of a larger dinner event. There is a specific strategy used for placing items for bid in auctions that will help bring in the most money for your charity. Use the Bell Curve strategy to your advantage in your next live auction.

Once you've gathered your auction items, review them according to their value and begin to prepare your catalog. If you are working with a professional auctioneer, s/he will help you create the catalog, placing the items in an order that will bring about the greatest income for your charity. However, if you do not have the benefit of a professional, you are not entirely on your own. Using the Bell Curve Strategy will help you place your items in the best order to raise the most money.

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How to Choose Your Fundraising Auction Site by Maureen and John Winter

Before making the final decision on your fundraising auction site, consider carefully what the needs of the actual auction are for that evening. Often the choice is made on the sole basis of price, availability and ambiance and little or no consideration is given to the layout needs of the auction. Among the areas that should be taken into consideration are:

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Night of the Auction Chairman by John & Maureen Winter

Have you ever considered delegating the management of the night of your event to a specific person or a couple. This person or persons will be the major-domo for the night of the auction and will be responsible for organizing the event's orderly flow. They must have knowledge of all committees' needs and must create a logical format and timetable for the hours of actual operation.

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Displaying the Merchandise by Deane Brengle

In order to obtain the highest possible bid for an item you must display it as prominently and attractively as possible. The rule of thumb is the better the item looks the higher the bid. You must display something for every item in your auction.

Some items are easy to display and others take work.

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Security by Doug Nash

One of the major responsibilities of those organising a fundraiser is to ensure as best they can that the workers, usually volunteers are not put in possibly compromising situations. The most common in this regard are contact with and handling of stock and cash. For this reason, you, as an organiser should employ strict control over both these areas. There should be clarity, transparency and accountability.

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Certificates by John & Maureen Winter

Certificates designating donations of services are always numerous and must be handled with great care and organization. They are valuable, often impossible to replace if lost and come in every imaginable shape and form. Some donations ask that you create an award certificate for the donation and you must be prepared to complete the task.

The certificate coordinator should:

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Professional Auctioneer by John & Maureen Winter

With so much at stake, it is really important that the live auction be conducted by a professional auctioneer. A good auctioneer can increase the income substantially, compared to a do-it- yourself arrangement. We estimate the difference runs from 30% extra income to double the money. Local celebrities are sometimes good, if they make a living by talking, such as a radio or TV announcer, or a politician but you can risk an error that will cost you more money than the fee you might have paid.

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Evaluation by Doug Nash

Who benefits from evaluating? YOU DO!

Planning your event helps to avoid or minimize mistakes and so do the best you can, evaluation can help you avoid making the same mistakes and improve the return on your next effort both in the financial and fun departments. Companies and professional organisations use the tool of evaluation constantly to improve their performances in nearly everything that they do. As said elsewhere in this book, if it works for them then it will work for you and your organisation.

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Preview Party Before the Event by John & Maureen Winter

For the second straight year our client school in Atlanta has gained from a pre-auction cocktail reception. Charging prospective sponsors twice the regular ticket price, these individuals were invited to a pre-auction party featuring champagne, appetizers and a preview of the silent auction. All the spouses were accorded a corsage and parking at the hotel was complimentary. Almost one-third of the guests took advantage of this higher level of sponsorship. The preview party was a great success on many different fronts:

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Evaluate the Donation List by John & Maureen Winter

It is vital to concentrate your efforts on acquiring those donations that traditionally sell well at auctions. We have accumulated data from small and large schools and other institutions from across the country. The results are almost identical in a vast array of locales: What Sells to Value:

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Auction Catalog by John & Maureen Winter

Never underestimate the power of the written word. The catalog, the written itemization of all auction objects, has the ability to set the tone of your affair. One glance at your book should provide the reader with the understanding of the magical event about to unfold. It should build excitement and create a fever pitch during the auction. This can be expertly accomplished with organization, attractive presentation and widespread distribution.

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"Priceless" Items by John & Maureen Winter

When making a good faith estimate of the value of goods or services, the regulations provide that "any reasonable methodology" will suffice. Assigning a value that is within the range of typical retail prices will be accepted, even if the charity chooses the lower end of the price range. When the goods or services are unique, the estimate of fair market value may be made based upon the fair market values of similar merchandise or services. A value should always be assigned.

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The Invoice John & Maureen Winter

As of January 1, 1994, donors may not rely on a cancelled check to substantiate charitable contributions of $250 or more. The IRS requires nonprofit organizations to give donors written receipts of their contributions. The receipt must include the following:

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Spotters by by John & Maureen Winter

Second in importance to the auctioneer are the spotters. Often picked at the last moment, these individuals can play a crucial role in the success of a live auction.

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Displays by by John & Maureen Winter

Displays should be created for each item and should be visible during the silent auction bidding. PowerPoint presentations can be created with digital images of resorts, golf courses, and vacation sites obtained from websites. These presentations should be constant during the silent auction and then be available during the actual bidding.

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Fundraising Idea of the Month: Cent Auction by Doug Nash

Cents auctions are becoming popular again, maybe because it is a form of silent auctions. There are no loud auctioneers or any pressure being brought to bear: people can take their time in deciding what they want to bid for. They have the same opportunity to win as any one else, the fattest wallet doesn’t always win in this form of auction. Just because an individual buys a lot of tickets, doesn’t mean they will win! You only need one ticket to stand a chance of winning.

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Grassroots Fundraising: Dutch Auction by Doug Nash

Normal auctions sell objects individually or by lots, a lot could be an individual object or a number of objects sold as one. Bidding starts low with each higher bid replacing the previous lower bid until the last and highest bid wins. The successful bidder taking possession of the individual items or items in the nominated lot.

This is okay if you auction the objects by lot or individually, but consider the situation where you have many identical items and you would prefer to sell them individually rather then in lots. What is the solution? A Dutch Auction is the solution.

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Home and Garden Show Playhouse Auction

A newspaper ad for a Habitat for Humanity home and garden show playhouse auction.

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Grassroots Fundraising: Promise Auctions by Doug Nash

An exciting twist to a regular auction. This time it is not how the auction is run that attracts interest by what is being auctioned. A promise auction is exactly that, an auction of promises. A bidder will make a set donation if a promisee fulfills an accepted promise. The tougher the promise the higher the donation.

Promise auctions are suitable for the office or social settings, in large groups as well as small groups.

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Charity Auctions and a Recession by Maureen and John Winter

I don't know if we have met the formal requirement for a recession but every indication that I get from my clients tells me that we are. Therefore it is important that you examine what you do and review all our charity auction procedures so that you can withstand the difficult months ahead. We have searched throughout the web and hope to be able to provide you with the best advice available. Your comments will be greatly appreciated.

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Senior Mystery Trip Fundraising Auction Ad

The Carson City - Crystal high school senior class mystery trip fundraising auction ad.

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Silent Bidding Form for a One Year VIP Movie Pass

Mel Trotter Ministries auctions off a one year Star Theater movie pass as a fundraiser.

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Silent Auction Sale Boards by Maureen and John Winter

Silent auction sale boards are an interesting, exciting alternative to the traditional silent auction tables we found in the New Orleans area. While somewhat labor intensive, bidding is very vocal and visible which tends to create a festive and enjoyable experience for a charity auction fundraiser.

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