Most galas and large special events have either a Raffle or Silent Auction component attached to it. Let’s be honest it is a wonderful way to add ancillary income to your event while not spending a ton of money on it! The first thing you need to decide is if a Silent Auction or a Raffle is better for your event. Don’t always assume that going with a silent auction will make your event more money. In order to bring in significant money from a silent auction you have to have some high ticket items (vacations, sports tickets, unique experiences), or things that are unattainable, otherwise, you are just asking people to bid on stuff that they can throw together from their local Target. This means that if you don’t have those big “connections” then it might make sense that you go with a raffle instead. Either way, you are making ancillary income from your event. The second thing is what kind of return on investment (ROI) are you looking to get. A silent Auction may seem easy, but it will take time to create one that is successful.
Now that you have decided on whether to have a silent auction or a raffle you need to collect some items for the main event. Some organizations require their members to bring in a specific amount of donations for each event. While this can be daunting at times it is a great way to make sure that people are actually invested in the project and that your items will be robust and diverse. I have seen these obligations range from $500 all the way up to $5,000 worth of in-kind donations that committee members have to bring in. It is a way to add accountability to your events.
Now that you have decided on what type of fundraising event you are having you need to put together an In-Kind Letter or Solicitation Deck. This will be detailed more in a later post but at the very least it should include: information on the event, information on your organization, any type of expiration date for a certificate, where to send the information to, and your Tax ID on it. Make sure that you can personalize this information and can submit it in either in Word or PDF format. Certain companies ask for it in certain ways and you want it to be as easy as possible for a company to donate.
Once you have all the preliminary “fun stuff” done you can move on to the soliciting part. There are many ways to solicit and we will cover this in another blog post (seeing a theme yet). The most important thing to realize that the prizes should be relevant to your audience and something that resonates with needs or wants that they have. If you have a lot of men in attendance you might want to focus on sports packages, steakhouses, and golf packages. If you have more families any type of museum, amusement park, or toys would be a smarter bet.
Once you have all your items together you can start building your packages. Putting together baskets are a great way to build excitement and put together some items that might not traditionally go together. An example is: a hotel stay, massage certificate, museum trip, and a necklace just became a Staycation Package. Putting everything in a pretty plastic with the shrink-wrap bags is the best suggestion. While they might be a little more expensive they make sure that your items stay intact and deter sticky fingers.
Collecting the Mola
Now plan out how you are going to have people bid or purchase raffle tickets. If you are doing a silent auction you can either do traditional paper bid sheets (see more tips and tricks here) or partner with a service that will allow you to do it online with mobile updates. There are benefits to both of these formats it is just what is best for your event and audience. If you are doing raffle tickets figure out your price point and go from there. Many organizations will do 1 for $5 or 5 for $20. Another creative option is to do a wingspan. Where one length of your arm is $20 and both would be $40. This is a way to engage your audience and makes it a little more fun for everyone. For the raffle, you also need to decide if you are doing cash only or will you accept credit cards? With the prevalence of credit cards today it is highly suggested that you use a service (Intuit, Square, EMS+…) to accept credit cards.
Finally, figure out how you are going to announce your winners. Usually, for auction items, it is a little easier as you should have all their information. For raffle winners decide if they have to be present to win or not. Also, make sure that everyone can hear you when you announce. If someone doesn’t hear your announcement they can’t win!
Good luck and let us know the best prize you have ever had donated!