Updated: Jun 7, 2021
When you decide to hold an auction, you are creating an experience. It is often your biggest chance to raise money for your organization and be remembered. However not all auctions are created equal. In fact, some live auctions bring in thousands of dollars, while others bring in just a few hundred.
The secret to creating a memorable and profitable live auction lies within the items you source. I hear, anecdotally, that people love attending charity fundraising events because this is an opportunity to purchase rare experiences not offered anywhere else. I’ve also heard that many people love the opportunity to buy their vacation for the year (they love that everything is planned for them and they can help a good cause at the same time).
If you want to create an auction to remember, be sure your live auctions has these five items up for bid:
(1) Vacation Packages: Who doesn't love a vacation! This is why vacation packages are a great way to help your organization raise money. To find the right vacation package, consider the giving capacity of your attendees. Is the event filled with wealthy donors? Young supporters? Could your guests afford to spend upwards of $10,000 on an international trip (such as a spending a week in Isla Mujeres)? Or is the sweet spot more like $3,000 for a domestic vacation (like a weekend in NYC)? Knowing your audience and honing in on their donation capabilities and preferences will help you source the perfect vacation package for your auction.
(2) Staycation Packages: Sometimes traveling can seem daunting. This makes staycations another great live auction item that tend to raise money for your organizations. Usually a staycation package is something that can be enjoyed within driving distance of your city. For example, if your fundraising event is in Austin, Texas, you might look for to the the hill country, San Antonio, or the Dallas area. You can put feelers out to see if anyone has a property to donate. Once you have that secured, you can then begin to source complementary donations such time in a vineyard, a gift card to a local restaurant, and tickets to a show, museum, or other local attraction.
(3) Dinner Party: Food and fun are another fantastic live auction item. Create a unique dinner party experience to attract donors. Contact one of your local catering companies, often they will sometimes donate their catering services for the free marketing. The winning bidder can then “win” a catered dinner party for 5, 10, or 20 people at their home. You also could look for a new and upcoming restaurant to donate a dinner party for 20 people in their restaurant. Other unique dinner party experiences might include a private wine tasting event, a private meal in your own home prepared by a local chef, an in-home entertainer, or dinner at the house of a prominent person in your community.
(4) Date Package: Whether it be one extravagant nigh or a series six different date experiences, date packages are a fun way to garner bids. If you bundle them together, one lucky person could take home a series of date nights planned for them to enjoy all year long. Each date night could include a stay in a local hotel, a gift card at a local restaurant, a massages for two, a guided bike tour of the city, or even a bird watching experience. Guests would bid on the entire package – which can bring in a great deal of cash for your organization.
(5) Family Fun Package: Sometimes the most fun people have is with their kids. Planning out a family fun package is similar to the date packages– but for the whole family. Similar to the date package you could have one incredible day or weekend, or you can bundle six exciting family adventures. You could get tickets to day at waterpark, game center, or local resort, if you live near Austin, Texas, Kalahari resorts is the center of family fun and entertainment. You can also include ice cream, a day at a museum–the Thinkery is fun, and learning, for kids of all ages, lunch at a nearby restaurant, or whatever fun, trusted establishment your local community has to offer.
(6) You can't buy that experience: Once in a lifetime experiences are things that you can’t buy, but are offered at live auction events for a premium price. Examples of unique experiences that raise a lot of money include a reserved parking spot for a year at a school or office, front row seats at graduation, extra paid time off from work, dinner with a well-known local, etc. For example, in Austin, dinner with legendary UT football coach Mack Brown would secure a high bid. Your guests will go crazy for these unique experiences.
Make sure your live auction is filled with once in a lifetime experiences so you not only create a memorable event, but also you create a profitable fundraiser.