What Kind of Donations Should You Be Looking for in Your Charity Auction?

A successful charity gala starts with great planning and the auction is a key part of the fundraising. The best way to go about getting donated items is to come up with a plan that targets types of items your committee thinks should be at the auction and then assign individuals to solicit these items by category. This way there is an accountability because it will be clear that if there is a shortage of items in a particular category who is responsible. Of course, if a committee member or event volunteer has an “in” at a company outside their category, they should solicit them in coordination with the category leader.

In a charity auction, a wide range of donated items and these items tend to fall into one of several categories:

  • Beauty: Salons gift certificates, Botox and other rejuvenation treatments
  • Health: Massage, fitness gift certificates
  • Dining: Restaurant gift certificates, home catering gift certificates
  • Hospitality: Hotel gift certificates, use of a vacation condo, trips and once in a lifetime experiences
  • Donated Goods: most commonly things like art work from the artist but can be as different as a set of tires!

Like any sales effort, a sales person needs good marketing material and soliciting donations for your event is no different. Business owners or managers need to be convinced that making the donation is in their best interest and marketing material should answer the question “what is in it for me?” on behalf of the business owner.

Marketing material should highlight the mission of the charity, the specifics of the event and the planned attendance and demographics of the event. For example, volunteers soliciting donations benefit from being able to tell the business owner the mission of the charity, that the event is a black-tie gala and that there will be 400 high net worth individuals in attendance being introduced to the businesses product or services. For some volunteers with less experience it may also be helpful to provide some scripts of likely conversations they will have with business owners so they get the feel for the conversations they will likely have.