What I Did This Past Weekend—Field Reporting from a Local Auction Fundraiser!
This Saturday, I went to a wonderful fundraising event for an elementary school in Stamford, CT. I had the chance to observe some amazing fundraising excellence in action. Plus, the night was extra special for me, because, I went with my Dad.
Arm-in-arm, this 42-year-old mom walked into the ballroom with her 76-year-old father (and employer). I felt so proud. It was the 1978 Father-Daughter Square Dance at the Annual Girl Scout Jamboree all over again.
As a result, while mulling how I should report my fundraising findings from the event back to you, I found myself in a reminiscent mindset. Did you know, I first worked for Dad three decades ago?
In the summers just preceding my teenage years, I helped my parents run an aerial sightseeing business out of the rustic Trade Wind airport on Martha’s Vineyard. Featuring tales of the hundreds of flights launched from the bumpy grass runways, my back-to-school essay, "What I Did on My Summer Vacation," was always the most exciting story from the class. (Once I was even published in our local newspaper, Our Summer Sailplane Service, 1982!)
And so…this week I am giving a nod to those long ago essays about summers with my dad and submitting to you for your grading my Monday-back-to-work essay on “What I Did This Past Weekend!” (I hope I get an A+!)
First off, this was a very impressive event. I was most struck by the event team’s focus and organization—This group orchestrated the evening more like a Navy Seals Unit than a temporary assembly of volunteer moms.
I got a real kick out of overhearing one G.I. Jane answer another’s question with … “You will find that at Central Ops.” Um…turns out that “Central Ops” was the registration table. Really, they were incredible!
I can’t possibly cover everything that was great about the evening one post. So, I am going to dedicate this post to what I think they did best.
They made it EASY for me to spend my money.
Here are five ways I think they excelled in making the spending experience effortless and enjoyable for their guests.
1. Express Checkout
The Express Checkout option on registration really set the tone that this group truly respected my time. Nobody likes the long lines at checkout at fundraising events. Knowing that the end of the evening would simply involve grabbing my invoice and picking up the items I had won was great. I felt like I had wings!
For those who haven’t done this, express checkout simply involves asking for credit card information at registration with the understanding that all purchases will be charged on that card after the event.
Receiving a clean and clear email receipt within 24 hours of the event closed the loop on this process, and really made me feel like event organizers were ultra considerate of, not only my time, but also my financial information.
2. That “Already Paid” Feeling!
By the time I stepped in front of the first silent auction item that piqued my interest, I had actually already signed my receipt. And, for whatever reason, this gave me a sense of bidding freedom. Spending money was inevitable, predestined even! I was just going through the motions of making the bids I was intended to make.
3. Pre-populated Bids
Every bid sheet had the incremental amounts of the bids pre-populated in the column. The incremental jumps between bids ranged from $5 to $50 depending on the value of the item. For example, restaurant vouchers went up by $5 increments, while a 2-week sleep away camp went up by $50 increments.
So, all I had to do was write my bidder number or sign my name. I didn’t have to run through my typical mental routine…What is an appropriate next bid?…What are they expecting?…What will make me look like serious bidder?
It was all so easy! There was no debate in my head to slow my progress or detract from the evening. Just sign and step…and, sign and step…and, sign and step. You get the idea!
4. Table Service
The meal can chew up (pun intended) dozens of valuable fundraising minutes at an event. Don’t simply dedicate this time to digestion! At this event, a very friendly woman came by the table with silver “Mystery Envelopes.” These envelopes were $20 a piece and contained vouchers that were at least a $20 value.
Now, I know we don’t want to leverage peer pressure too much as fundraisers, but we can’t ignore the opportunity altogether! Truth is you really don’t want to be the only person at the table who doesn’t purchase a Mystery Envelope! Plus, there is a silent competition going on around the table…who will select the most valuable envelope! The gentlemen next to me won, he got a $50 jewelry gift certificate.
5. The Power of the $20 Bill
Your guests may enter the event with a set amount that they want to spend on live or silent auction items. But, they also have a wallet with at least $100 of twenties in it as well. Give them lots of reasons to spend that money!
For this event, there were three additional $20 options for spending money.
- $20 got you three raffle tickets to win an iPad
- $20 got you a Mystery Envelope
- $20 got you a stunning 8x10 black and white photo of your child (More on this in a later post—it was fantastic!)
There were about 150 guests at this event. Many were couples, so let’s guess that there were 100 possible purchasers. If each purchaser freed three $20 bills from their wallet at the event, that added a total of $6,000 to the money raised!
It was such a memorable night. And, it was all in the name of research! Dad and I are tapping into the local fundraiser circuit to figure out how we can improve our offerings in our FundraisingRides business.
Not a bad gig, right? We get to go to parties, meet new people, have a great meal (Yummy steak on Saturday!), and learn about the amazing things people just like you are doing for your non-profits!
My plan is to bring you more helpful details about the fundraisers we attend in the coming months. In the meantime, share your fundraising event details with me in our online form and get a chance to win a hot air balloon ride for two! Dad and I can’t travel across the country…so if you have some great ideas to share with the group, please submit them!
And remember, the bliss is in the details,
JennaThis blog is sponsored by FundraisingRides, the division of Soaring Adventures of America, Inc. dedicated to providing non-profit organizations with fundraising opportunities.