1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 83 — Do I hear 100 years? Absolutely!
“Kathy, Get ready for year 10!!! This is a big one and a big deal. We made it this far! What ideas do you have to make this auction extra special” exclaimed Rachel the Executive Director of Amy’s Treat last week.
Wow! I love anniversary fundraising events. And you should too.
This special article is dedicated to Amy who was my neighbor and friend. Ten years ago her partner Lenore knocked on my back door and said, we’d love to have auction to start a nonprofit in Amy’s memory — Kathy can you help? I am honored to be a donor and their auctioneer. (Amy’s Treat is dedicated to providing solutions to the day-to-day difficulties of living with cancer and offers unexpected “treats” to renew the spirit.)
For over 30 years, I’ve been honored to serve as auctioneer and consultant for countless anniversary events and even four centennials. However, did you know that your anniversary fundraising auction is a premier donor cultivation opportunity?
Here are my six secret strategies to gather and keep all of your supporters who love you, raise more money and get those bid cards waving.
- First and foremost, obsess on audience development. Reach out personally to your founders and all past board members and invite them personally. Then reach out and invite every single donor – personally. Make sure that you include everyone who every came to ANY of your events.Be sure to include any and all auction item donors and invite them personally Gather every one. Your supporters will want to be with you as you celebrate your special anniversary of your incredible impact!
- Form a diverse active host committee. Invite supporters from founders, volunteers, to present-day donors. There will be many people who are not able to attend and wish to offer their support by sending a contribution.
- Pick the most lucrative anniversary theme. YOUR IMPACT! In your all of your outreach, promotion and marketing and social media, keep your mission and impact front and center. From your save the date card to your inspiring speaking program – showcase the impact what your generous donors contributions have done for your organization. This is the time to go all out so that everyone falls in love with your great cause all over again!Start early – even several years before your anniversary event. Your signature event is also an opportunity for a year round celebration with numerous events.
- Avoid costly mistakes. Many groups spend valuable funds, resources, and time on what I call the 3 Deadly D’s: decor, dessert and dancing. (Hint: no one will recall your theme, colors, decorations or tablecloths – however they will be inspired by true first-person stories that showcase your amazing impact on the lives of whom you serve.)
- Invest in what matters. Focus on your purpose – not the party. And your purpose is three-fold.
- Communicate the impact of your donor’s gift
- Obsess on strategic audience development
- Express profound gratitude again and again
- Leverage your anniversary event as a launching pad to skyrocket fundraising too. Whatever the year – your fundraising auction is an unparalleled opportunity to invite and engage new supporters and to engage current donors in an exciting, profitable and inspiring way! Stand out as a signature, inspirational, fun, profitable event where generous donors are thrilled to bring friends, family and colleagues every year!
“Celebrate your success, treasure the past and continue to create a legacy for your great cause and your donors for the future.” Kathy Kingston