Is a Fundraising Event Right for Your Organization?
From time to time I am approached by organizations looking for ways to improve their fundraising efforts. One idea on their list is inevitably an auction. Auctions seem pretty straight forward right? You get items donated, people pay for the items and your organization benefits from those purchases. I wish I could say it was so easy, but auctions can be much more complicated than they appear. There are few questions you should ask yourself before you dive in head first.
What are your expectations?
Knowing the goals of the event is the first step in laying a great foundation. Of course, everyone wants to raise a ton of money but it will be important to also identify your expectations in other areas.
How much money do you hope to raise? If this is your first year, keep your expectations for how much you will raise low.
What is the purpose of your event aside from raising money: community awareness, building a client base? Keep your purpose simple.
Who are you hoping to reach: potential new clients, engaging current clients?
Will your auction be online, live, silent, or a mixture?
These are important questions in helping you develop and set realistic and measurable expectations and goals.
Do you have the time?
Believe it or not, special events like auctions, can be one of the worst ways to make money for non-profits. They are time consuming and gobble up massive amounts of resources. Auctions are also rarely stand-alone events, meaning there are more components than simply the auction. They are typically accompanied by a dinner or family activities so they end up being an event within an event. Make sure you keep this in mind as you plan.
Creating a timeline will be your next big step in determining if you have the bandwidth to pull off such an event. After you have penciled out your basic expectations for the event be sure you allot enough time to:
Recruit the right people to help with the auction:
Book a venue
Organize basic logistics
Produce a catalogue
Understanding the components that go into planning your event will help you and your team understand the time commitment and resources needed for creating a successful event.
Do you have the right people on your team?
Having the right people on your team can make or break your event. When looking for people to help staff and promote your event ask yourself:
Who will ask for items?
Who will execute the marketing strategy?
Who will manage event logistics?
Who will track items and produce a catalog?
Who will take care of setting up and taking down the event?
Evaluate staff giftings and schedule loads to see if creating an event is realistic of your team.
Do you have the infrastructure?
Making sure you have the right systems in place to support your event will ensure that your event runs smoothly. It will be important to ask yourself several questions when trying to determine if you have the right process to support the event.
How many items do you hope to have?
How will you ensure you have items that people will want?
If you have more than one person asking for donations, how will you avoid duplicate asks?
How will you track your items from the time they come in as a donation, to the time they make it into the customer’s hands?
What if items don’t sell?
Answering these questions will put you well on your way to determining if an auction is right for your organization’s fundraising strategy.
If you decide that an Auction is right, keep in mind that it may take a few years for it to gain traction. If you lay the right foundation auctions can be a fun and engaging event!
Want to see an auction in action? Come to this year’s Benefit Auction at Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center. Learn more at www.Kids2CampAuction.com
-Jessica Wilson, Development Director
Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center