High Profit Party Boards

A fresh lucrative approach to engage more donors

Nick Colineri and Sally Kingston volunteering at Party Board at the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction

Party Boards, sometimes called Signup Boards or Experience Boards are fun and lucrative. Here’s a fresh way to maximize fundraising with a unique, fun experience for multiple people with a fixed date and time. Just think, in the space of about nine square feet you can raise thousands of dollars plus create a perfect and way to engage donors long after your fundraiser.

Be inclusive. At many fundraising auctions, galas and benefit events, there’s a wide socioeconomic mix. Many guests who attend don’t want, don’t need, or can’t afford to bid on a big-ticket auction item. But they do want to contribute and participate, and to have fun, too. By strategically including a Party Board, you can creatively engage everyone, add excitement and raise more money.

Live Auction or Party Board? How do you decide if the experience should go into the Live Auction or be a Party Board? From a strategic perspective, Party Board experiences involve a large number of participants, so they may be a harder sell in the live auction. Experiences with many guests lend themselves well to a Party Board sales strategy, because even a single guest or one couple can join the group and feel part of your organization.

Party Board Ideas. Here are a few examples of creative parties you can sell during your cocktail hour by using Party Boards. What if you had someone willing to host a lobster bake for 40 people on a private beach? What about a poker party, poker lessons from a dealer with BBQ and scotch tasting for 30 people? How about a wine tasting and food pairing for 50 people? What about a Ladies Latin Night for 60 moms at your school, complete with margaritas, Latin dancing instructor, and Mexican food? Or even a Mystery Weekend Trip for 25 lucky winners? Or, Dinner with the Nuns for 12 couples? Be creative!

Party Board Benefits. It’s a unique and successful way you to engage more guests in a fun experience and it’s wonderful for people who don’t know anyone to get involved in your organization. It’s also a great way to promote bidding for guests who are looking for an exciting group experience.

Engage more donors. You make it easy for your guests to get to know each other and to share a communal, cathartic experience while raising money for a cause they love. From a donor development standpoint, it’s this kind of meaningful, exciting engagement that builds loyalty.

Kathy Kingston’s High Profit Party Board Success Factors. Ready to add fresh, innovative experiences and new revenue? Here are my 14 success factors for High Profit Party Boards.

Do the math. Calculate the price per spot and number of spots you need to reach your Party Board goal. Be sure to include any costs to you.

Make it BIG. Create a BIG free-standing Party Board. Build it about the size of a door in your home. Approximate dimensions 2.5 feet by 7.5 feet. Really!

Prominent location. Place your Party Board co-located to food/drink INSIDE the area where you are holding your cocktail hour. Make sure your Party Board is well lighted and professional looking. Make sure there is enough space around the Party Board for your volunteers to engage guests.

Read it 10 feet away. Guests need to read all of the Party Board 10 feet away. Please use BIG font. Remember, guests are mingling at your cocktail hour, and you will need to attract attention to it. Make it easy to read.  Supply volunteers 2 new big fat black magic markers.

Communicate Impact. Put your logo on the top of the party board. Remind guests how their gift makes a difference. Write it on the top: “Your generosity supports: fill in the blank about your impact.”

Be explicit in bullets. Place the name of your experience in giant font at the top. Describe the what the experience in bullets on top of Party Board. Big font. Day. Date. Time. Venue. Sponsors.  Write in bullet format what the experience includes. Make it very easy to read. Consider using this language. RESERVE YOUR SPOT NOW.  List the dollar amount per spot List the number of spots available. Write the number of spots, name and bid numbers as column headings. Then list the number of spots down the left side.

Activate your auctioneer. Give your auctioneer all the talking points to announce and create excitement and URGENCY during cocktail hour. Make sure your auctioneer announces how many spots are left and keeps building that frenzy to sell out during your cocktail hour. Note: you must have a good sound system in your cocktail area space.

Select gregarious volunteers. Pick four gregarious, happy, well trained volunteers: two volunteers at the board to write name and bid numbers, and two volunteers to purposefully engage and talk with guests, who guide guests the Party Board. Active excited volunteers will make ALL the difference in your success!

Train your volunteers. Create a time to train your volunteers on exactly what to say to promote your Party Board. For example: It’s new. Describe what the experience entails. Guests MUST go to Party Board to sign up. This is NOT A LIVE AUCTION ITEM.  Price per spot. ONLY x spots available. This will sell out quickly. Tell what is unique about this special experience.

Talk it up. Include Party Board talking points for other volunteers. In this way you can have more promotion to showcase this new exciting opportunity as welcome guests. It’s always great for these volunteers to share how funds support will support your great cause.

Pre-sell spots. Pre-sell a few spots and write it down on your Party Board BEFORE any guests come into the room. This way you already have sales momentum.

Capture the winners for cashiering. Add all Party Board winners bid numbers into your cashiering system right away. Have a key staff member copy all the winning bid numbers and bring it immediately to your cashier station for immediate entry into your payment system.

Avoid 5 common mistakes: When Party Boards fail, there are five root problems:

Mistake #1: Shy, reticent, untrained volunteers
Mistake #2: Size of Party Board is too small
Mistake #3: Wrong placement in the venue
Mistake #4: None or poor sound system
Mistake #5: Not using auctioneer for exciting announcements

Sell out fast. The goal is to sell ALL SPOTS by the end of cocktail hour. Make sure your auctioneer drives sales with frequent updates and announces when you are sold out. When you sell out – simply write:  SOLD OUT!

How about you? What’s your success with Party Boards? I’d love to hear from you and your ideas: kathy@kingstonauction.com

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