Ten Tips for Getting Items Year Round
By: Sherry Truhlar of RedAppleAuctions
One of the reasons charity auctions become overwhelming is due to the amount of work required at the last minute. Managing a guest list, coordinating volunteers, decorating the room, overseeing vendors of food, entertainment, production, and so forth are all simultaneously handled.
And if a group hasn’t done a good job of halting procurement a few weeks prior, it also means that items are still being requested and received, even while the deadline for the catalog printing has passed.
When a group doesn’t do a good job of managing procurement, volunteers feel out of control. To ease the inevitable aggravation, start procuring quality items year round, using these tips.
1. During your auction's off-season, spend some time concentrating on building out your auction notebook. The procurement section should include names, addresses and results from last year’s procurement. Organize now to make it easy to find information later.
2. After the charity auction, take time to write a wrap-up letter to donors with an additional thank you and auction results. It will help plant the seed for next year’s ask.
3. Many corporations have a budget for giving. They allocate it via a “first come, first serve" approach. You'll want your organization's letter to be one of the first letters received in January when the budget renews (or July, for some fiscal calendars). Spend the fall collecting the contacts and putting the letters together so they are received on January 2.
4. Build your contact list by following your community's business section for new businesses opening. Flag those contacts in your database so you can customize a letter to them related to their first year in business.
5. Subscribe to at least one magazine or blog that targets your audience – or a developing section of your audience -so you can be more educated about their interests. For example, if you intend to target an audience of 30-something men, make sure to read about electronics and technology. You’ll key in on several items to add to your ask list that will be attractive to those guests.
6. Year round, have regular – if not as frequent – teleconferences with your committee to discuss procurement. Discussion of past or upcoming school /nonprofit events can be a time to brainstorm on who will be there and what they said. “Julie is going on vacation to Mexico,” you might learn, “We should ask them if they’ll ask the hotel for a donation.”
7. Have a meeting with your big spenders about a month after the auction. See what their plans are for the upcoming two years. Is someone remodeling the kitchen, traveling to Hawaii, or organizing a 50th anniversary? Start working on finding a package to address their needs now. You might be able to procure it – and they buy it – at your next year’s auction.
8. Send reminders to all key committee members before major holidays/breaks when they’ll likely be around family. “Don’t forget to ask your brother / parents / sisters for use of their condo when you see them over Thanksgiving,” you can write.
9. Every Monday, email your team two procurement ideas from my Auction Item Guide TM (It’s free. Claim yours on my website.). Keeping new, creative ideas in front of your team on a regular basis will start to penetrate their consciousness. They’ll naturally be on the lookout for ideas.
10. To keep it fresh, consider focusing on a different theme every month. Travel now ... food next.
Once you’ve secured your larger items earlier, you’ll be more at ease. It’s easier to handle little issues when the big issues are resolved.
(c) Red Apple Auctions Co. All Rights Reserved.
About the author:
Fundraising auctioneer Sherry Truhlar, CMP, BAS, CAI is featured in national publications for her trend-setting work with auction fundraisers. She teaches auction chairs easy ways to improve an auction’s financial return. Start improving your auction today by getting her FREE Auction Item Guide TM. The Guide lists the 100 top-selling items sold for over value in charity auctions. Claim your FREE copy at http://www.RedAppleAuctions.com.