Over the past several months, we have broken records for our business, helping more charities than ever. We are helping more charities plan, manage & host events than we ever have. But with this, especially as we transgress our great country, we are faced with several issues which plague charities. Most of the problems arise from not being educated and still believing in the various myths that still exist.
Charities, or I should say the people who make up the charity and actually planning their next fundraiser, tend to live in a “Fantasy Land.” It’s not their fault, you must understand but trying to educate them so that they not only better understand the “Reality of Charity Fundraising” is harder than trying climb Mount Everest backward in a "Speedo and flip flops."
Charities don’t want to believe that the items donated to them are not going to bring full value (aka Retail Value). The refuse to believe it – in fact, while I am often am talking to them about their fundraising, they stare blankly back at me with a dazed look on their face. The reality is that they never go back and look to track what the items they had at their event, actually did or how they performed.
Sadly, charities (I am truly talking about the people) don’t think when seeking donated items, what kind of items they should be going after. And, here is where you want to rip my head off, don’t truly care about the business who donated the item, they only care about how much money they could possibly make from the sale of it. How do I know? Because I use to be the “Donation King.” I had it down to a science. But then when I really figured it out…that is when I became a Donation God!!!
Are you ready for a dose of reality? Are you sure? Before I go into it, let me tell you a little story. I was helping a charity at an event which they had donated some very high end art. In fact, they brought in the artist from out of the country – six (6) in total – all from South America. The artists insisted that it had to be displayed in a very high trafficked area with amazing visibility of the artwork. Understand that the event was very high end and the place, high end as well. But…I know the reality of the reality. I asked the artist if there were “Reserves” on the art which they said there were none. I explained to the Artist what may happen and they obviously disagreed with me. The pieces ranged (retail mind you) from $7,000.00 to $15,000.00 Retail – original art. Because they wanted the art to be prominent, I ensured that everyone could see it and it was the centerpoint. This same art took up the majority of the Live Auction. Again, I asked them if they would be upset if it did not receive high bids, they laughed and shook their heads as if I was telling a joke. Well during the live auction as I began to sell the art, the room fell silent (can you hear the crickets?). The highest bid for the art was $350.00 for a $15,000.00 piece of art. Then at the end of the evening, one of the buyers tried to back out of the bid so that he could buy items from us (our No Risk Auction Items – Mike Tyson autographed Boxing Trunks and a Sugar Ray Leonard/Roberto Duran dual signed Boxing Glove). The artists were devastated but came over to me after the event and thanked me for educating them while asking if they should ever do it again – I told them no.
I could provide you with example such as when a donor was present at an event and the item which his business (which he was the owner of) donated an item worth $900.00 and it sold for $45.00 – he walked out immediately after seeing it sell for that amount furious.
Ladies & Gentlemen, I am sorry if you think differently, but Auctioneers are not Magicians. We auctioneers cannot turn water into wine or make money fly magically out of people’s pockets. Not one auctioneer in the world can. You have to provide people with items or experiences that they would want. Unfortunately, in the example above with the Artists, our Decor items sold higher than their original art – I find that sad.
Furthermore, charities must market the items which they have and will be available to bid on. Facebook and email newsletters are perfect for this. But putting people in a room and expecting them to bid on stuff just because…doesn’t happen.
Another myth – this one will probably sting so gear up – people do not bid on items at your charity fundraiser because they are helping your charity. This is 100% false. What is true is this – they bid on items that are attractive, that they want. The items that get the most bids are Hard to find items, things they have never seen before or Travel Experiences. If this weren’t true, why do people get buyers remorse and try to return the items the following day? Charities tend to think people walk in the door blind folded with a stack of $100 bills in their pockets and just throw it up in the air…wherever it lands is what they are going to buy and say “Well it’s for charity” – That is totally false and those days are over.
Be smart about what you are doing, be strategic when seeking donations and then market your donations as much as humanly possible. Use Facebook religiously to market your event and the items available.
Something else very important – why is it acceptable to pay a venue for food & drinks, a florist for floral arrangements but not to use consigned items and travel on your live and silent auction? I’ll leave you with that thought.
If you would like to learn how seek and get incredible donated items while ensuring the donors are happy by the result and how to also absolutely ensure that those items bring an amazing amount of money - or if you would like to learn more about how to host a successful charity fundraising event and how to plan your fundraising platforms such as the Live & Silent Auction effectively, contact us at www.BWUnlimited.com, we would love to help you exceed your fundraising goals.