Thursday, September 25, 2014

Secret to Fundraising Success #5 – Bidder Numbers and Why?

Recently, BW Unlimited was assisting a Charity in the Washington D.C. metro area with their fundraising event and during the event check-in we spoke to hundreds of happy people as they signed up for their Bidder Numbers.  If you are not familiar with “Bidder Numbers”, they are given to each guest during check-in, in exchange for their contact information. A bidder number is quite simply a large card with a big black number on it.  Guests use this number to bid on the Live and Silent Auctions.  On some occasions, depending on the event, a guest may even purchase raffle tickets using this number.  At the end of the event, each guest will check out and pay for each item on which they were the highest bidder as well as the raffle tickets they purchased. 

While watching the Silent Auction, I observed many people browsing through the items and monitoring the bidder sheets of specific items on which they wanted to bid.  Interestingly, I watched as two gentlemen closely inspected one particular item.  They both stood talking about it and openly commented how fantastic it was.  Over the course of the evening I watched both of the men independent of the other come to the Silent Auction table and bid on that specific item. 

As the bid price climbed higher and higher I watched as they would place their bid and look around the room to see whom they could possibly be bidding against, when unknowingly, it was their friend.  As we announced that the Silent Auction was closing, both men went straight to the item and again began to bid.  Suddenly they both started laughing loudly finally aware that they were bidding against each other.  Ultimately, one of the gentlemen gave way to the other allowing him to win the bid without any further competition.  The most important thing to note in this example is that the final bid amount was fantastically high.

How did they not know who they were bidding against, its simple; they were each using a Bidder Number.  I cannot tell you how many times I have seen charities who choose to use bid sheets with bidders names, not do as well as those who use an anonymous Bidder Number. 

For example – if you went to a Charity Fundraiser and went to bid on an item, but saw that your friend or coworker had previously bid, would you bid against them?  Most would answer with a resounding, “No, they would not”.  Utilizing Bidder Numbers makes the bidding anonymous therefore allowing for the maximum profitability potential for the charity hosting the event.

How it works – during guest check-in, there should also be a table for Bidder Registration.  Your guests sign up and provide their name, address, phone number and email address.  Once they fill out their information they are provided a bidder card with a large black number on it.  After the event, the charity maintains the bidder registration for various reasons but can also utilize it for event marketing.  It also provides a simple way to contact bidders who leave the event without picking up or paying for the item or items they won.

There are several other notable reasons that charities should utilize bidder numbers especially during a Live Auction.  After an item sells, the winning bidder raises the bidder card with their number on it for the Auctioneer to acknowledge and call out to the Auction Clerk; this also eliminates the need to write down a buyers name and information in a high pressure situation. 

Let’s speak directly to a company-sponsored table of ten (10) people who were given the tickets for free.  The charity will not have the contact information for the guests sitting at this table unless they were registered as bidders when they checked in.  Make sense?  While planning your next event, we recommend using the Bidder Number process and watch as the bids for your event items climb higher and higher; plus, you will benefit in having the contact information for all of the guests.

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a leader in Charity Fundraising in North America in a “One Stop Shop” setting.  The fundraising experts at BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising monitor successful fundraising trends, as well as negative trends, in charity events across the country.  BW Unlimited can guide you and your charity through the myriad of fundraising pitfalls through the planning and hosting of your next event.  If you would like our help, don’t hesitate to contact us at 410-658-8808 or contact us through our website today at


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Secret #4 – The "Ultimate" Key to Fundraising Success – Underwriting

What I am about to offer you is without a doubt, the #1 Key to a Charities Ultimate Success.  At BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising we take great pride in the fact that we live every day under one simple mantra “Charity First.” Today, when companies all over the world are only concentrating on their profit, the Fundraising Experts at BW Unlimited are focused on our charities profits first.

In all of the meetings that I attend, rubbing shoulders with charity employees and volunteers, not one of them has ever mentioned this method or brought it up in conversation.  It is the #1 answer to all the blogs I have written and to the many questions charities ask us before working with them.

What I am referring to above is the fundraising method of “Underwriting.”  Underwriting is a lesser form of Sponsorship but it impacts an event in two ways:

#1 – It pays for all service costs and auction items, but most importantly

#2 – It creates a very focused marketing tool for donors and their businesses

Underwriting can best be defined with a very real financial acronym “OPM” – Other People’s Money.  Even though this term seems crass, it truly answers charities problems.  Here is why it is the answer to a charities prayer:

In the world of charity fundraising, charities will incur certain service costs in order to host their fundraising event.  In fact, they are already getting these costs underwritten but don’t realize it.  For instance, Event Tickets – charities charge a ticket cost, which defers the cost they are paying to the venue for each individual meal.  However, there is no marketing for each person that is “donating” his or her money for the ticket.  Before I go too far, I need to define and explain Underwriting.  Prior to seeking it, a charity needs to identify all of the service costs and auction item costs, which they are incurring.  For instance, all of our BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising No Risk Auction Items are available to a charity for their fundraising event, along with the associated cost to non-profit for each item.  Pre-event, a charity chooses perspective businesses or supporters and asks them which item or items they would like to underwrite or pay for in advance.  They donate the money (the cost to non-profit) to pay for the item therefore allowing all profit, when auctioned off, to go directly to the charity cause. 

However, we need to fully understand the real reasons why businesses and individuals donate.  As an example, how many hospital buildings, libraries and museums do you see with someone’s name attached?  Part of the agreement when these philanthropists informed the charity of the anticipated donation, was that the building be named after them, therefore marketing the business or individual.  Make Sense?

To re-emphasize the point, Underwriting:

#1 – pays for all service costs and auction items

#2 – creates a very focused marketing tool for donors and their businesses - Every business needs to be marketed.  In fact, they pay for marketing via print adds, commercials etc.

Now, marketing for the donor or business may simply be a “Tent Card”(a small white card folded in half) next to the item with “Donated by Dr. John Smith” and their website or address. Remember to list all of the Donors or Underwriters in the Event Program (this allows for 2 of the 3 forms of marketing).  Then, during the event, the Master of Ceremonies (MC) should announce all of the donors while thanking them – that’s #3.  If the donors are in the crowd, they will love it and especially if they are
asked to stand or raise their hand.

If Charities get the items in the Live Auction underwritten, the Auctioneer can read the name of the donor while preparing to sell the item and ask them to stand.  Again, this is especially effective if the Underwriter or Donor is a guest at the Fundraising Event.  They will receive a fantastic round of applause, which everyone loves. 

Here perhaps is most likely the Ultimate Secret.  When I tell you this, a light bulb should go off in your mind with you telling yourself “WOW…” 

With all the blogs I have previously written, we talked about Donations as well as the formidable charity competition in your area.  I have recommended that you research this site to find out how many charities are in your area by looking up your city, county or state on  After you check this link you will either be amazed or suddenly have a sinking feeling.  Without going into it, all of these local charities are asking the exact same businesses to donate just like you.  Please see my blog "The Evolution of Charity Fundraising" for more on this.

But here is the “Secret” that will astonish you, guess which businesses are rarely if ever asked to donate?  Professional services such as Doctors, Lawyers, Realtors, Accountants, and Consultants etc.  Why?  Because they do not have anything (i.e. an item) to donate from their business!

What is even more exciting…these professional people and businesses are normally in attendance at every charity fundraising events.  Another set of businesses that are never asked is suppliers such as office supplies, electric Companies and real estate owners.  One humorous business that we assume is never asked to donate, because oddly enough, what would they donate?  Trash Collectors.

Service providers such as Landscapers, Painters, Construction Companies and so on
would love the chance to underwrite something at your event because they can only donate services and due to high employee cost cannot offer this.  Every single business out there would love to put up a billboard to your guests, let them!!!

Then if you really want to step it up, you can go to the same businesses that everyone else contacts to ask them to underwrite much higher profile items.  Now if you remember me telling you that businesses are donating items not sold in their stores, the item that they can underwrite is much higher profile.   And after speaking to these business owners, many will tell you they would rather write a check instead of donating something.

Charities can underwrite everything from the cost of the items they utilize on the Live and Silent Auction, the cost of the Event Program, DJ or Band, the decorations and so on.  If you are reading this, I recommend that you immediately begin to write down all of your costs, talk to your committee or team and go after underwriters – you will be astonished – just remember who suggested it.

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a Leader in Charity Fundraising in North America.  BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising provides everything a charity needs in a “One Stop Shop” setting.  We provide a wide array of “No Risk Auction Items” to services such as Check in and Check out personnel, Silent and Live Auction Assistance as well as a top-rated Auctioneer in North America.  The Fundraising Experts at BW Unlimited provide their expertise absolutely free of charge to ensure that our charity clients are extremely successful.  If you would like our help, please do not hesitate to contact us today at  We look forward to helping you exceed your fundraising goals for this year and many years to come.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

“It’s the Thrill” – Why Raffles greatly benefit Charity Fundraising

Just this morning, while stopping for my morning coffee, I saw an older gentleman in the convenience store near my home purchasing “Scratch Off” Lottery Tickets.  Since I have had several conversations with him about his golf game in the past, I asked him about his success in winning the lottery.  He told me that he was won $2,500 twice in his life, but lets make this clear, he is in his mid 70’s!  I then asked jokingly “How much do you believe you have spent buying tickets” in which he chuckled and replied, “Oh my George, 1,000 times that.”  I asked him…with such low success, why do you buy lottery tickets and he replied “It’s the thrill.”  His comment about “the thrill” caused me to pause for a second and immediately decide to write my next blog with this as the subject.

Today, Charities all across North America are planning their next fundraising event.  Hopefully, they are also studying their previous fundraiser in order to determine how to improve their financial success.  Many charities are not taking full advantage of all who attend by adding several fun and exciting Raffles and/or Games.

With this in mind, let’s discuss why Raffles and Games are an incredible success 100% of the time.  As you know, all charities are scouring the countryside looking for donations.  Either with Gift Baskets or Gift Certificates, all charities are looking to get items donated.  Often, they receive items which are “Less than” exciting but anything donated is great – right?  Right!!! However the answer has a twist, and I want to warn you as to the answer:

Commonly, charities not utilizing Raffles and Games will place every single item they were donated on a Silent Auction Table.  The table becomes cluttered with Gift Certificates and Gift Baskets causing the great items to be buried in the “run of the mill” donated items. 

Across North America people are only bidding from 1/8 to 1/2 of Retail cost on donated products.  I have discussed in earlier Blogs why this is occurring and why it is bad for all parties.  Understand that “EVERYONE” is looking for a deal.  Gift Certificates are bringing only about 1/2 of face value.  Everyone wants to say “Look at this deal I just got – a $50.00 Gift Certificate for only $25.00.”  The charity can say “Well we made $25.00 at least and it didn’t cost us anything.”  But does that help the donor?  No.  Actually it hurts them because it drives down the marketability of the item and it means their services or item is worth far less.  Plus let’s be honest with ourselves, $25.00 is not a whole lot of profit including the time it took to get the item, the set up, etc.

But what if you utilized the “Non-Exciting” donated items such as Gift Baskets, Gift Certificates and Kitchenware (such as coffee makers, bread makers, toasters etc.) in a way that would bring ten (10) times the retail guaranteed – would you do it?  I hope you answered with a resounding “YES”!!!!  The answer is – Raffles.

I am going to tell you about two recent events that I was a part of which had opposing results:

#1 – Bad idea

I attended an event in which the charity placed around twenty (20) Gift Certificates on a board and asked their guests to pay the face value.  Very few sold leaving the charity with gift certificates instead of profit.

#2 – Good idea

Another of our clients utilized all of their donations in a raffle at a very small event with only 150 attending.  If you added up the value of all the Gift Certificates they had in the raffle, it only totaled $135.00.   That was the total retail value – but if we use the math and every single gift certificate would have received a bid – they would have made only $70.00.

We gave them one of our many “Tried and True” raffle ideas which ended with $900.00 in ticket sales!!!  $900.00 dollars for $135.00 worth of Gift Certificates.  Plus they also raffled off a Charity Charm Bracelet that we provided to them with a Cost to Non Profit of $80.00, it brought them $500.00 – 6 times the cost!!!

This client was overwhelmed and thanked us over and over again.

Why does this happen?  Because people like to win – remember, “It’s the Thrill.”  People would rather give you a $10 bill for a raffle ticket then they will to put a $10 bid on a bid sheet.  It’s the truth.

What else does a raffle do for you the Charity?  Raffles make the event “Fun” – they put the “Fun” back in Fundraising.  Raffles make your event memorable with people saying, “Wow they were giving out prizes constantly.”  These people will tell everyone about how much fun your event was, helping you sell more tickets the following year. 

When businesses donate, do you think they want to hear after your event that the item they donated only brought in 1/2 of their asking price?  No way.  But, think about this, when they ask (which they always do) if their item helped and how much it brought?  You can proudly say it helped you raise 10 times the retail price!!!  And if you know just how much the raffle made you can disclose that as well?  Raffles guard against unsuccessful sales.

It just makes sense!!!  People love to win and people love to have a fun time.  Use your time, effort and the donated items in the best possible way – start utilizing Raffles to greatly improve the success at your next event.  Your success is not only in the money profited, but it can also be measured in your guest’s enjoyment.

If you would like to learn about how raffles will greatly influence your next charity fundraising events bottom line or if you would like fantastic, rock solid raffle ideas contact BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising today at  We would love to help.

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a Leader in Charity Fundraising across North America in a “One Stop Setting.”  While assisting charities all across North America, the Fundraising Experts at BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising study successful fundraising trends in order to help their charity client’s success.  BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is known all across North America as the absolute best provider of “No Risk Auction Items” with a 100% guarantee of success as well as being known for only offering Authentic Autographed items.  If you would like more information on how BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising can help you and your charity, contact us today at