fundraising items

Must Have Live Auction Item #5: Sports

This the post in my blog series on Must Have Auction Items for a Varied Live Auction. If you haven't caught the other posts, or aren't sure why it is so imporant to have a varied live auction, you can find all of those posts HERE or archived on my blog. Stay awhile and look around. I provide all of this information to help my clients or anyone else trying to plan their fundraiser. My goal is to help organizations be as successful as possible!  

The last type of item you should be looking for as you solicit items for your live auction is a Sports related item. 

Criteria for a successful Sports Item:

Exclusivity. Like with any live auction item, you will have more success if the item is not a dime a dozen. Signed swag is good if it is by a well-known, well-loved player who does not hand out their autograph liberally. 

Appeal. This should seem obvious, but for some people it is not. If you are receiving sports tickets, make sure it is to a GOOD game with GOOD seats. Example for all of my Minnesota friends: 50 yard line to the Vikings/Packers game.  

Open Availability. If someone in your association has great season tickets to some local professional team, ask them if they would be willing to donate tickets that the bidder can select the date. A few black-out dates are acceptable, but still not ideal. This takes a lot of sacrifice on the donors part, but it's worth asking.

Best way to get sports tickets: 

Ask your company to donate. So many companies have season tickets that they give out to clients or employees as incentives. It does not hurt them one bit to give a set to your organization to sell. If they are less than amazing tickets, sell them on the silent auction, but still ask and take those babies off their hands.

If you have questions about your sports related item or any of the other sports categories I've listed in this series, please contact me and I'd love to dialogue with you about your live auction line up. 

Must Have Live Auction Item #4: Alcohol

I will start by saying this item is not for all organizations. Any organization affiliated with addiction and recovery or even domestic violance as well as some religious affiliations may want to steer clear of this type of item out of respect for the attendees. 

With that being said, items including an experience related to alcohol usually has a broad appeal. 

Examples of Alcohol Related Live Auction Items

Wall of Wine.  This is where all of the board members or auction committee members donate a bottle of wine (some bottles will be higher quality than others) until you have a collection of anywhere from 10-50 bottles of wine, and you sell it as a package. You will want to print any higher end bottles in your program, and ideally would print all of the bottles in the program so people can see what they are bidding. It is unrealistic and much less effective to verbally list all the bottles when introducing the item.

Wine Tasting. A private and exclusive wine tasting in someone's home with a professional Sommelier. 

Private Brewery Party. Local microbreweries are popping up all over the place (especially here in Minneapolis), but a tour is not enough because really anyone can go tour a brewery. A private tasting party at the brewery for 10+ people with catering by a local food truck (or two) would be an item worth selling on live auction and would provide an exclusive appeal. 

Wheel barrel of Booze. This item is always a hit. It is similar to the Wall of Wine, except it is an actual wheel barrel filled with alcohol. Arrange the alcohol so the higher end items are showing. You could also include glasses and garnishes (olives, cherries, frilly toothpicks, etc) in with the alcohol to fully stock the bar. This is an easy item to fill because auction committee members or board members would all go together to in contributing to this item. The winning bidder gets to take home their new wheel barrel and all of its contents. 

If you have a question about any of these items or want to know if it would be appropriate for you to add one of these items to your organization's live auction, please reach out and I will give honest feedback on your live auction lineup. 

Must Have Live Auction Item #3: Unique Experience

A unique experience is the hardest item to come up with because you often need to think outside of the box and pull your personal connections in for this. There is really no real criteria here other than provide an experience or an item that people cannot access on their own. So, for this post, I will just be listing examples of things I have sold to get your creative juices flowing.

Examples of Unique Experiences

  • Character created about winning bidder in a well known author's next book

  • Trip to visit and tour Jay Leno's garage (with Jay Leno if the timing was right)

  • Principal for a Day

  • Trip with a professional sport's team to an out of state game which included accommodations and riding with the team on their plane to and from the game as well as an after party post game.

  • Lock in sleepover at a museum with a roof top movie

  • Premier parking space for school pickup and drop off

  • Batboy (bat-kid) for local professional Baseball team

  • Box at a professional sports game hosted by a (well-known) retired player

  • Timed shopping spree at a local department store

The possibilities are endless for these types of items. What I would encourage you and your team to do is to plan an entire meeting that is set aside for brainstorming this type of item. Throw out ideas with the freedom of "no idea is a bad idea" and just go with it. Some of the best auction items sound "stupid" in your head before you say it outloud and realize that it could actually happen with the connections in the room. Eventually what will happen is one member will throw out an idea, another member will know someone with the right connections and you will find yourself with a very exclusive an unique idea. 

Must Have Live Auction Item #1: Trip

In previous posts, I have offered the importance of including a variety of types of items in your live auction and listed 5 that should be included to create a well rounded live auction. Now, I am going to go through each category in more detail with the goal of inspiring you and your auction committee as you solicit items for your live auction.

The first item we will focus on in detail is Trips.

When looking for a trip to include in your live auction, you can include a local destination (something in your home state or a close state that bidders could access by driving), a non local destination (someplace to which they would need to fly), or both. For the most part, I would not include more than one of each in the same auction line up.

Things Good Trips Have: 

Open availability. Meaning the winning bidder can plan their trips selecting from a wide variety of dates throughout the next year.  It's okay to have 3 or 4 weeks through out the year blocked off, but other than that they dates should be relatively open.

WOW Factor. People aren't going to pay top dollar (or likely even bid) on something that doesn't have a special appeal to it. Some WOW factor examples:

  • Home owned by a celebrity  
  • Home on Ocean with gourmet outdoor kitchen
  • Home in Central America which included full staff of maids, personal chef and butler for the week
  • Unique home such as a treehouse
  • Resort which is frequented by known celebrities

Experience is included. The trip includes more than just a place to stay. Examples I've sold:

  • Napa trip which includes wine tastings at several vineyards
  • Trip to New York with the opportunity to see a late night show and have a meet & greet with the host. 
  • Travel to an out of state professional sports game on the team's airplane with the team.

Things Bad Trips Have: 

Limited availability. Want to make sure no one bids on your trip? Offer it for one week out of the entire year. Just because an item has a high "value" does not merit it to be on the live auction. We are looking for items with a broad appeal, one week out of the year is not a broad appeal. I would allow certain exceptions like if somehow you got a box with Madona AND Prince at the Kentucky Derby and it is obviously only available the week of the Derby. Otherwise, I would recommend taking your week in Florida through aunt Cindy's timeshare off the live auction. It doesn't belong there.

Off Season Availability. You will find many donors who are willing to give you donations for their off season. Win for them because it's a tax write off for the time a year they won't be filling their spaces anyway. No one wants a ski trip between April and August.  

What about airfare?

You may notice that I didn't mention anything about airfare in either section. I'll follow up with another post in the future about this topic in more detail, but the short: including airfare does not bring you it's value in revenue nor does it hurt an item's popularity if you don't include airfare in the package. Look back later for deets on this or just email me your specific question regarding this and I'll be happy to give you more insight.