3 Event Fundraising Tips: How to Drive Up Silent Auction Prices

At a recent event for the nonprofit I volunteer with, we were blown away by the overwhelming success of our silent auction, and the great experience it created for our constituents.

Here are a few event tips that worked really well for us.

1. Yes, we accept credit cards. Throughout your event make several announcements that you accept credit cards.  People want to be able to pay via credit card.  In our case, just saying that we accepted credit cards helped drive traffic to the silent auction tables, and we are all convinced that it helped drive up the prices of the items.

2. Yes, we have something for everyone. Make sure you have items that interest everyone in the room.  Our biggest shock was how much the guys enjoyed bidding.  We had lots of spa packages, but the best sellers were camo hunting bags.  Plus, the competition amongst the men drove prices up substantially.  We were sure glad we had those items in the auction.

3. Yes, paying is fun.  When we decided to use the iPad as our payment device, we had no idea that it was going to be the talk of the event.  Our biggest win of the night came from the check-out line. Everyone wanted to pay and sign on the iPad.  It was so popular that we created a raffle on the spot so that everyone could make a donation and sign the iPad.  In addition, when we swiped their card we were able to capture all of their information, and the application emailed them all receipts.  Now that is a win/win experience!

Take-away: At your next silent auction take credits cards, have something for everyone, and most importantly make sure checking out is fun!

To learn more about Mobile Payments check out this great white paper.

Lessons learned from the JCC Conference

This past week I had the pleasure of presenting on social media and fundraising at the JCC Biennial Conference.  As I often find, I learned just as many things as I taught. 

Lesson 1- Think differently

I know we all say we should do this, but it’s rare and so much easier to do the same old thing.  During the event fundraising session Rich Dietz encouraged people to think outside of the typical gala, and the ideas were a plenty.  How about a movie premier theme to show a new film, a carnival to bring more kids into your organization, or even a boxing tournament.  FUN!  On twitter that evening, I was sent this great Pintrest board with other fun ideas.

Lesson 2- There is a new world of professional

The “locking down” of social came up time and again.   Organizations are fearful that someone is going to say something bad.  To that, I say “they are going to do it anyway, so it may as well be in your control.”  I found this great visual  here, and it really illustrates the professional world we live in today.

Lesson 3: Size does matter

During our event fundraising session one of the participants asked about us leaving out a very important tactic.  Personal phone calls-I quickly added, “Sure those are great, but who has the staff to do that?”   He responded, “We have 45 board members.”  That hadn’t occurred to me.  Not sure why, I know many nonprofits have large boards that are willing to work, but 45.  WOW, that changes everything.  It was a great lesson for Rich and I.  As we work to construct session and valuable content we tend to gravitate to those smaller nonprofits with the greatest need, but it is important to remember that the big guys need help too.

Lesson 4: Hurricanes can be very scary

The conference was held in the city of New Orleans.  It was a very surreal experience to be in the city again after Katrina.  Everything looked so great. It was inspiring to talk to some of the people who had been there during the devastation, and to learn how they have rebuilt their lives.  My lesson 4 did not come from that very real reality though…I already knew that.  My learning came from one too many Hurricanes (the drink).  🙂

Take-away: Even when you are the teacher, you can always learn new things.

Three fundraising lessons’s from Apple’s ipad

Raise Funds Faster than Apple Sells iPads

Apple’s iPad has more than 15 million customers, and I have joined the ranks of the 15 million.  I was convinced that I didn’t need an iPad, but now I am not sure how I will live without it.  

As nonprofits, I think we have an opportunity to start thinking more about how we can innovate and borrow best practices from those that are doing it well.   

Mind Map

1. Be cool!

iPads are undeniably the must have gadget of the young and the cool. They are easy to use and visually appealing.  We need to make sure that our organizations are attractive to younger generations. 

Organizations that are doing the work to appeal to younger generations are becoming wildly successful.   If you need an example just take a look at charity:water. They embody “cool”, and they are by no means the largest fundraiser in the space.  They are using their “cool” along with some fantastic marketing strategies to very successfully connect with GenX and GenY donors. 

2. Be fun!

The iPad is used about 1/3 of the time for games.  It is alluring to step into the shoes of a race car driver or a super hero even if it is only for a few minutes. Think about how to make your next event, program, or project fun.  Is there a way you can turn your giving program into a game?

3. Be Shareable!

The Ipad makes it easy to share information. You should do the same for your organization.

Nonprofits can use simple tools like forward to a friend in emails or share in social media icons.   Tools like Sage Fundraising Online shown above allows supporters to promote their fundraising efforts through Facebook and other social networks; or let supporters embed a form directly into their personal website or blog with a simple copy and paste. 

All of these options allow your advocates to share information about your organization easily, just like the iPad!

Take-away: Think of ways you can be cool, fun, and share more with your constituents, and for more tips and to download the full presentation and mindmap visit my slide share account @ “Ipad Like Innovation for Nonprofits.”