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Silent Auction Guide & Toolkit
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
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.

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.

The Effects

Economic conditions affect fundraising results in specific ways and do not impact on all aspects equally. The stock market may indicate how major foundations and big donors will react to fundraising. Bad economic news has a negative effect on all members of our society and it is vitally important that we stay positive and dynamic and not allow ourselves to be caught up in downward trend.

We can expect that any recession will be with us for a certain amount of time, experts seem to disagree on the length, but one thing is sure, it will be followed by a recovery and we must be prepared for that time as well.

Effect on Auctions

We are getting reports directly of events being canceled or postponed. Some events involve substantial amounts of outlay before the event occurs and these charities must analyze the potential drop in return is sufficient to justify the initial expense. Other comments include:

  • It seems callous to spend thousands on decor and invitations at a time like this

  • I worry about the number of attendees

  • Will we be able to get the auction items

  • Are attendees willing to bid

But before you change your plans and cancel your event please be aware that one sure way to raise less money is to stop asking for it. You need to keep doing the things that have succeeded in the past, you just might have to do them more economically and more efficiently with more imagination.

As a group, fundraising professionals are some of the most optimistic people I have ever met and it is why I enjoy working in this field. But if you become gloomy and pessimistic it will impact your potential success.

A Successful Event

What then are the ingredients of a successful fundraising event in these times.

  • Be Economical. Most fundraising events can be improve their budgets and it is essential that you do so now. Negotiate with every vendor for the best price possible from the location to the caterer. Does the meal have to be steak or lobster? Do you really need a centerpiece on each table? Can you do with a cash bar? These any many more questions have to asked about every expense you potentially incur.

  • Clear articulation of your mission. More than ever you have to let the bidder know where the money is needed and the good works that will be accomplished. Emphasize actual benefits instead of bricks and mortar as people react more strongly to the plight of less fortunate people and may prove more willing to bid.

  • Become Innovative. There is no time like the present to explore every new idea for your event. If your was always a black-tie event, switch to a Diamonds and Denims theme. If you always used a fancy first class hotel consider an airplane hangar or a museum. Find new and exciting venues, themes and ideas that will encourage your guests to attend and to open their wallets.

  • Allow Donors to Give. You may be reluctant to ask attendees to give but give those that want to contribute more the opportunity. Consider a special class of attendees who you give the opportunity to pay more for their ticket price in return for some recognition. Provide other opportunities for attendees to make donations by having Giving Trees and other donor facilities available. Don't ask but let them do it themselves.

  • Unique Event. Do everything you can to make your event a unique experience for guests. Staying within your budget you should do all that you can to make sure that your guests appreciate your efforts and have a great time. You owe them that.

You should not assume that you will lose your supporters in the current economic crisis. According to Beth Breeze of the Centre for Philanthropy, Humanitariasm and Social Justice at the University of Kent, "ordinary people are currently trimming their budgets, the richest individuals donate out of surplus wealth, rather than making sacrifices from their everyday income." She argues that "elite givers ...philanthropic acts are part of a strategy to find meaning and purpose in their lives."



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About the Author: Written by Maureen & John Winter of Target Funding Group who manage more than 30 charity fundraising auctions a year for organization large and small, have authored two books on charity auctions and designed a very user friendly software to accomplish all the tasks for a successful charity fundraising auction.

For more information, or to subscribe to their free monthly email newsletter, please visit their site at: http://www.charityauctionhelp.com



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