|D...k In A Box, two Pats, Roseanne Roseannadana|
|Mary Katherine Gallagher and Martha Stewart's Topless Christmas|
|Me, Killer Bees, Kevin and the Wild and Crazy Guys|
Our fundraising pays for, among other things; classroom aides, music, reading, art, language, science, some building maintenance and supports of local children's charities. As I wrote last year, the extent of our fundraising is a revelation to some of my friends in New Zealand where tax dollars actually pay for a decent education. In past years the school fundraiser has grossed up to $303,000. Most of my friends outside this area find it astounding that parents of a tiny (320 kids) Oakland public school can raise this much in just one night. Parents host trips and parties and local merchants donate goods and services, there is a silent and live auction and we all bid as high as we can afford.
|Shy Ronnie and Bonnie|
A couple of years ago we donated a New Zealand dinner and a Mad Men party at our house.This year we donated a "Beer Pong Saved My Life" Party. Guests will come as they were at college: dude, nerd, artsy fringy. A rousing round of beer pong will be followed by a visit from a gourmet food truck and fancy cocktails as well as keg beer. Our fellow Spartan, Justin, made this fabulous golden trophy which the lucky winner will carry home to take pride of place on their mantle. Normally I would be very reluctant to dress as a cheerleader - even a mad one like The Spartans - but it fit the party. Our other idea was The Coneheads but we thought that would be waaay too popular. Mass quantities of them. Funnily enough, zero parental units turned up in those terribly attractive elongated bald headgear. Yes, funny that.
|Justin holds the golden trophy!|
Pick a popular theme so people are inspired to dress up. They have more fun and bid higher. Previous themes at our auctions: Superheroes (I was Poison Ivy, Kevin was Wonder Woman) Olympics (we went as Jamaican Bobsledders) Peace, Love and Green (we went as Green Day) and The Eighties (I was heyday Boy George, Kevin was community service Boy George clutching a broom).
2) Buy It Now
Stipulate "Buy it Now" prices on all silent auction items. Bidders can sign up for that top price instead of having to hang around the table watching the bids. For example, many of the 20 couples who signed up for our party did the $400 "Buy It Now" price.
3) Free wine, no lines. Say no more. It's for the kids.
|Statue of Liberty|
I asked Greg Quiroga, our auctioneer for seven years, what makes for a successful auction:
1) Do your auction during dinner
Maximize your attendee’s time, and don’t be afraid to focus on fundraising. There is a finite time between when people show up at an event, and when they are “done.” If you put your auction at the very end of the night, it will be perceived as the least important thing. People will leave. You will make less money. Give them 20 minutes at their tables to hang out, and then start your program.
2) Get your message out pre-event
Make sure people know they are coming to a fundraiser, and that they know where the money goes. Do not assume that your crowd knows how much money you need, or even why you need the money. Most important is to make sure people know what is expected of them when they arrive: do not invite people to a party and then blindside them with an auction. Invite them to a benefit where they can help you change the world, and show them how they can help you – simply by participating in your auction.
3) Do an appeal for straight donations
Whether you call it a “fund a need”, “raise your paddle”, “random acts of kindness”, “waterfall”, “fund the future” or any other name, make sure you do it. It is the point in the auction where you ask the crowd to come together and simply give you money. Done right it has the potential to be the emotional cornerstone of your event. (Our school does "Raise Your Paddle." Adding this when Greg started seven years ago has raised $280,000 alone.)
4) Auction access
The best things you can sell in your fundraising auction aren’t things, they are access to events, experiences or people that one cannot otherwise get. Dinner in a nice restaurant is a good lot, but what you should be after is to get that chef to go to the winning bidder’s house to cook. “Celebrity” varies from event to event: at schools the principal is often a celebrity. At some organizations it is the executive director, a particular board member or even a group. Identify your organization’s “celebrities” and build lots around them.
5) Hire a professional fundraising auctioneer
You want a professional who is focused solely on fundraising, will consult on your event in advance, and has a proven track record engaging crowds similar to yours. Of course the professional fundraising auctioneer is going to say this, but the difference a professional can make in your event is significant. (For example, this year raised more than three times what the auction raised before Greg was involved.)
What other tips would you add to this list?