From Surviving to Thriving in Today’s Benefit Auction Environment

The economy has changed the way we are fundraising at auctions today. Make no doubt about it. One of the most key aspects to change the mindset from just surviving or being at a plateau for fundraising to thriving and having record-breaking fundraising auctions is to change into a transformational mindset because what I know from the last three years of being a fundraising auctioneer in some of the most challenging economic conditions is that I have raised more money for nonprofits and had record-breaking fundraising auctions than I have in my 25 year history. Why is that?

 First of all, clients that I work with understand the need to be very strategic and optimize every piece of their event. Number two, when my clients who are so successful tell their story, tell their transformational story about how they change lives, impact the community, save animals, help fund research, give scholarships and they communicate that explicitly and emotionally and impactful at the auction and when I can become an ambassador for that message that is when fundraising happens.

 How does a nonprofit learn to do that? Well first of all that is why I have created a number of workshops and teleseminars to help nonprofits and even auctioneers understand what are the trends now, what is working in the economy, and what is not. At the time of this recording I know that what worked last year doesn’t work this year. That the “less is more” concept is in full swing in a couple ways.

 One, if you have the same timeline as you did last year it is not going to work. Why? Because guests are leaving half an hour to 45 minutes earlier. Now how do you counteract that? If someone is gone they can’t give you money so you have got to skew or position your fundraising activity, your big fundraising activity, your Fund-A-Need and your live auction earlier than you ever have even over last year. That is why I have created some new workshops and teleseminars and if you wanted to go to my website which is www.kingstonauction.com you can take a look on our seminar page to have some wonderful training and professional development.

 The “less is more” concept also is imperative in auction items. Fewer silent auction items. Fewer live auction items.

 The third thing is the pre-promotion. You must pre-promote your items because the causal bidder who bids just because it is fun is gone. People are much more strategic in how they are spending money and so we can sharpen our pencils too and help them understand first how important their money is and secondly by pre-promoting those items people who like trips can plan ahead. People who like experiences can plan ahead. People who need to get a group of friends together for a wonderful gourmet dinner with a chef and wine they need to contact them ahead of time to find out how much everybody can give. So pre-promotion is important.

 Transformational mindset, focusing on fundraising, less is more and pre-promoting items will help change the way you fundraise and it will impact your bottom line significantly.

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