Note: Only the people who took the time to read this will benefit from it.
Prior to launching our company, I was involved with several charities involved in the outdoors. One of the company’s I was extremely familiar with was and still is “Ducks Unlimited.” Last year, as reported by Charity Navigator, Ducks Unlimited Total Net Profit was $195,923,938.00. “DU” as they are commonly known by, is a fundraising machine. This one charity has fundraising so figured out that they make nearly $200 million dollars each year. Incredibly successful.
What does “DU” know that you don’t? They mandate that anyone fundraising use high quality items which they supply. Now, the items which they supply are not “Consigned”, the fundraising entities (known as chapters) have to purchase the items directly from “DU.” After the fundraising events, the cost of the items is deducted from the Gross of the event. What does “DU” know that you don’t? The answer is this – they, as well as other charities who have adopted this practice, know that they must have great items in order to make much more profit. Believe it or not, they do not want donated items.
When we started, our company identified the fact that there were currently 104 Million charities in the United States. We then took the idea from charities like “DU/Ducks Unlimited” in regard to using high quality items and began to introduce it to the charities outside of the outdoor charities. However, we decided instead of trying to sell these products to charities, we would consign them. We came up with the plan that charities would be able to use our items, mark up the starting bid above our costs by at least 20% and no matter how high the profit, they would keep 100% of it. If the item or items did not sell, they could simply return them at no cost to them. I understood the importance of it and the fundraising impact it would have for charities – but unfortunately, the charities did not.
Immediately we were met with resistance. We heard commonly “Our charity does not allow us to use items we have to pay for” or “We only accept donated items” or “We are against using items that are consigned.” What they failed to understand or realize is simply this – they pay for the venue which they are holding the fundraiser, they are paying for the food, the decorations, the printing costs, the bar and everything else but when it came to the tools which would help them raise the money they need, their thought process shut off completely. They wanted and would only accept totally free items.
Over the many years we have been in business, we have studied every single fundraising trend there is. After specifically studying donated items, we found that donated items only bring 1/8th to 1/4 of their full retail value. Why so little? Because the event is attended by people who live locally, the event itself is local and the items are donated by local businesses – if the guests wanted them, they would have gone and bought them themselves. Furthermore, after speaking to the same businesses who donated – they informed us that the items they donate are ones that are not selling in the stores. People are always looking for a deal. The most drastic thing that stood out is that two (2) of the most common items used in fundraising events are Gift Cards and Gift Baskets. I have asked our clients for years this question “How many Gift Baskets did you give away to your family or friends for the holidays?” and every single time I have been told “None/Zero.” Furthermore, I’ve asked everyone how many times have you bought yourself a Gift Card? Again, they laugh and say “Never” – that is why they are both called “GIFT Cards / GIFT Baskets” because we give them away as gifts. No one will ever pay anywhere near what they are worth based on this simple observation. But yet, every single day, charities across the nation still insist on getting and using these unsuccessful fundraising items as the keys to their success.
No matter how hard I tried to tell or convince them, they were not going to do it. Slowly, charities began to accept the idea and started using our items. Those charities experienced immense profit and would commonly say “This sounds too good to be true, what’s the catch?” My response was and still is “It’s good and it’s true, but it’s not too good to be true – there is no catch” and I put it (our policy) in writing on our website and in contracts. Slowly it started to catch on.
Then one evening, as if a light bulb went off, an idea came to me which would revolutionize the use of our items and could possibly even change the thinking of the charities who refused to use consigned items or items which they had to pay for. I am going to share it with you and you too will realize just how brilliant it truly is.
The Secret is “Underwriting” or Sponsoring the items themselves.
As you are already well aware of, routinely charities offer differing sponsorship levels – Gold Sponsorship for $5,000.00, Silver Sponsorship for $2,500.00 etc. Some sponsorship's are much higher. However, the fact of the matter is, most people can not afford these levels of sponsorship. However, they can afford much lower, much more affordable monetary sponsorship's such as $250.00.
Here is the Secret – Businesses such as Real Estate brokers and Agents, Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Dentists, Consultants etc. have nothing to donate other than money. These people are never approached and asked to donate unlike your local jewelry store. However, if you offer them a chance to “Sponsor” or “Underwrite” the cost of an item, they will. Let’s say you approach Jane from ABC realty. Jane looks at the items available, chooses one and writes you a check for the cost of the item. You then place the item on your Live or Silent Auction with a tent card in front of it reading “Sponsored by Jane Smith, ABC Realty”, while marking up the “Starting Bid” 20%. When the item gets bid on and no matter how high it goes, you and your charity now keeps 100% of the funds brought in because “Jane from ABC Realty” paid for the item and received marketing in return. WIN WIN.
Now here is the best part of “The Secret” – If the item does not receive a bid, you simply return the item back to BW Unlimited and you keep the sponsorship money “Jane from ABC Realty” gave you. You can not lose.
Using this secret “Brought to you by the great people of BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising”, you will raise more money then you could ever dream of while giving many more people an opportunity to help you.
For secrets like this and many more, contact us at www.BWUnlimited.com. We would love to help you EXCEED your fundraising goals each and every year.