Hello, my name is Jenna. In this blog, I am going to bring you BIG ideas for every little detail of your event. Need inspiration? Check out my current post. Want a tip on a topic? Browse the categories. There are thousands of people just like you planning fundraising events across the country...we may be apart, but when we share ideas, we will do great things together!

Please Note: Jenna has retired from blogging, but we keep her posts on the site because the ideas are timeless and have been very well received in the non-profit community!

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JennaBW resized 182 Mom, step-mom, wife, daughter, singer, volunteer, writer, marketer, gluten-free baker, MBA, and...
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Help Others by Sharing Your Ideas! (And, maybe win a hot air balloon ride!)

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Every month from November through June, I will pick a winner of a hot air balloon ride for two! And, if you submit a photo or video from your event, you will be entered twice! Any event topic is welcome! Things like..

Creative Place Settings
Fundraising Games
Checkout Best Practices
Agenda Ideas
No idea is too small!


Don't Forget to Order Your FREE FundraisingRides Auction Materials!

AuctionTableTopDisplay8.23 resized 182FundraisingRides donates a hot air balloon ride to every non-profit that participates in our program. Order your FREE Auction Packet with our simple online form.

Why the Details Bring Us Bliss

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I have a love of details because managing them gives me three wonderful gifts. To find out what they are and learn a little more about me, click here.

Is There an Event Detail You Would Like to Read About?

Themes that Rock
Transforming Your Venue
Event Timeline/Flow
What Makes a Good Emcee
Staging the Auction Table
Balloon Arch Design
What's on YOUR mind?

If you are thinking about it, most likely other people are too! Send me an email and let me know what event details you have the biggest questions about!

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Up To 20% More Funds Raised with Three Last-Minute Ideas!


Take it from me…no wait, take it from you! No…that doesn’t sound right either. What I mean to say is, people just like you have shared with me these three super-effective, low-effort, last-minute fundraising event details that you can take to the bank!

Round Up Your Returns

No, I am not talking about the “Yee Haw Ride ‘em Cowboy” type of round up. I am talking about your third grade math teacher type of round up. Evan, who raises money for a private school in Berkeley, CA tells me that the average revenue from this idea is an additional $2,000 to $3,000!

All it involves is one final small ask at the close of the evening. You invite your guests to “round up” at the auction checkout to the nearest $50 or $100 dollar increment.

Auction Fundraiser Round Up
One thing to keep in mind is that assigning your checkout table workers this responsibility may not be the best approach. They are under pressure. They have to work swiftly and professionally while being gracious and grateful to each and every guest.

Also, your checkout table staff may not be 100% comfortable asking guests for an additional donation, or they simply could forget to ask as the table gets busy.

Why not ensure all guests are presented with the opportunity by  announcing it at the podium as you give your guests a final thank you and goodbye.

Win a balloon ride for your auction fundraiser“Please stop by the auction checkout table to claim your auction items. Also, we are inviting everyone to round up their checks to the nearest $50 increment, tonight. Just a little more from each of you will go a long way in meeting our fundraising goals!

To back this up, you can print out table tents with clever encouragements and strategically place them on the checkout table near the pens your guests will use to write their checks (see photo above).

Make Your Accountant Smile! Round up to the nearest $50 and give him a nice even number to work with.

Make Your 3rd Grade Math Teacher Proud! Show her that you still remember how to round up to the nearest $50.

You know [insert Exec. Dir. Name] Is Bad at Math! Round up to the nearest $50 and make her job easier.

Rounding up is a great idea! But, you also should keep in mind that you have been asking your guests for money all evening. Plus, at the end of the evening, guests may be a little tired and their buzz has likely warn off.

If you keep the tone of this final push lighthearted and brief, your guests will respect the idea and be more likely to say to themselves, “Aw what the heck!”

Seize the Moment (with Spotters!)

There will be one intensely meaningful moment at your event where your guests will feel deeply connected to your mission and cohesive as a community. You will have their complete attention and their complete commitment--emotionally. At this pivotal moment, you can also inspire a stronger commitment—financially.

Maybe it’s after a member of the community you serve says a few words of thanks. Maybe it will be after a photo montage of the work completed in the past year. Maybe it will be after a beloved board member speaks about the highlights of her years of service to this organization.

When your donors hearts are open their wallets will be open too. Remember your guests are at the event to give money! So, harness the emotional power of that moment to expand the giving power of the audience.

 Auction Fundraiser PaddlesMake a specific heart-felt ask!

“Please raise your paddles if you would like to make a $100 gift (or $500, or $1,000?) to ensure that we continue to [insert wording specific t that inspiring moment and the services you deliver]!”

Now, don’t get distracted by the rush of wind racing through the room as dozens of paddles are raised high! BE ON YOUR TOES AND BE PREPARED!!! You need the three “P”s…Paper, Pens and People!

Let me bring the challenge home…Stand three feet away from your computer and sway from side to side. Now you have 10 seconds to write down all the auction numbers in the picture above….GO!

Why only 10 seconds? Because your donors’ paddles will soon start to drift and twist.

A woman might turn to the guest to her left to exchange a few meaningful words, or a guest will reach for his drink or try butter his roll one-handed, or perhaps a guest will not want to keep her arm raised because her dress shifts in an awkward way when she does so.

But, that’s okay! All you need to make the most of this moment are several well-positioned , well-prepped (and sober) spotters placed strategically around the room before “the ask.”

They should be assigned specific table numbers or quadrants of the room to ensure that every paddle number is captured on paper and can be added to the guests’ totals at the checkout table.

Turn Low Value Into High Worth

Got a few auction donations that are low in value or a little mundane? Don’t worry, EVERYONE gets them! And, while you probably don’t want to put them in your auction (by association, they can diminish the value of other items on the table), you also don’t want to hurt the feelings of the very nice people who contributed them to your event.

Not sure how to handle it? Fear not, these items can be blessings in disguise!

Sandie who raises money for a community health clinic turned on a dime and it paid off. Not feeling great about including the low value items she received on the auction table (such as inexpensive jewelry, an oil change certificate, movie tickets and a crisp $50 bill), at the last-minute, Sandie added a bucket raffle to her event.

To her delight, the bucket raffle generated almost as much as the silent auction! Sandie sold tickets at three donation levels and guests dropped their raffle tickets into little buckets in front of each of the items. To keep the auction checkout process running smoothly, she set up a separate line for the raffle winners to pick up their items. Well done, Sandie!

Now, I am not usually an advocate of adding things to your event at the last minute, but my guess is that even if your event is tonight, you could add at least one of these ideas to the evening without too much risk.

The annual auction only comes around once a year! Your donors will never be more apt to give than they are when are surrounded by like-minded people who embrace your mission. You have permission to make the most of it!

And, remember, the bliss is in the details,


This blog is sponsored by FundraisingRides, the division of Soaring Adventures of America, Inc. dedicated to providing non-profit organizations with fundraising opportunities.



Hi Jenna .. love the other last minute add-on ideas! And thanks for posting my submission about the bucket raffle .. it really has been a home run for us! And I think you mentioned in your earlier blog the idea of "bundling" ... putting a couple of lower-valued items together into a package deal or a few of them together for a gift basket. Those are also great ways of dealing with those "not quite what we were hoping for" donations.
Posted @ Friday, March 09, 2012 10:13 AM by Sandie
You are such a great supporter! I appreciate how much you engage with and add value to this blog community. 
Jenna :)
Posted @ Friday, March 09, 2012 10:56 AM by Jenna Roche
Loved the "round up" for auctions - such a simple and effective way to ask for just a little more!
Posted @ Friday, March 09, 2012 8:37 PM by christina
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