Here at BiddingForGood, we’re insatiably curious about a lot of things. We’re especially intrigued by anything that concerns the fundraising efforts of the schools, nonprofits, and charities that we serve, as well as the generous folks who attend and bid in auctions to support so many of these great causes.
These are some of the questions that keep us up at night:
- How effective are silent auctions? What gets in the way of success?
- Why do bidders attend fundraising events? Are they focused on the auction at all?
- How much are organizations charging for event tickets?
- What types of items are bidders most likely to bid on?
Fortunately, we have big pool of smart people to whom we can ask such questions – not just our school and nonprofit customers (now over 6,700), but also our Bidder Community, which is made up of more than 330,000 affluent, cause-minded consumers who loyally shop across our auctions. So we surveyed both groups, and compiled the results into a new eBook, The State of the Silent Auction. We should be able to sleep at night now, but we’re eager to have you read the eBook and let us know what you think.
You can find out the answers to the burning questions above – and more – by downloading the complimentary eBook here. Please take a look and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
If you've searched BiddingForGood for that perfect gift for Dad for this Father's Day but still haven't found it, you've come to the right place. I'll tell you right now that Dad doesn't need another tie. He doesn't need a new watch or golf club, and he really doesn't need a new LeBron James jersey (Go Thunder!). What Dad really needs is just a few-minute conversation with his kin, for them to let him know they care, and the topic of that talk should be Dad's health.
I bet many of you didn't know that each year, National Men's Health Week falls on the week leading up to and including Father's Day. Too many dads will not see the next Father's Day because they are not taking the simple steps needed right now to ensure that they see many more Father's Days to come.
Dr. William Kormos, Editor in Chief of Harvard Men's Health Watch, put together a wonderful article for National Men's Health Week, listing five tips each dad can take to become a healthier person.
5 Tips to Being a Healthier Dad
- Get Moving – Get off the couch, big guy!
- Get Your Colon Checked – It's easy to forget, but it's important... like changing your car's oil.
- Know Your Blood Pressure – Not too high or too low... make sure it's just right.
- Put the Salt Down, Ya Turkey – Try lowering your sodium intake and eat more fresh foods.
- Know the Warning Signs – Understand that you are not a kid anymore. If you think something is off or wrong, speak up and take action before you can't do either!!!
When you talk to Dad about his health, be firm with him that this is important to you. He should have a regular doctor and should not be afraid to speak up if something is feeling off.
On a Lighter Note…
Another doctor that I continually get advice from is Dr. Steve Brule, TV's most knowledgeable fake doctor. In addition to Dr. Kormos’ excellent tips above, Dr. Brule has put together some short videos with life tips that I strongly recommend you and Dad check out.
Dr. Steve Brule’s Tips:
Tip 1 – Milk Expiration
Tip 2 – Fire Safety
Tip 3 – Dental Hygiene, Caveman Style
For some reason, every year Father's Day always creeps up on me. May is a busy month, with Mother's Day, Memorial Day, and of course, my birthday. And again, for a reason that I cannot comprehend, my Dad seems to be forgotten around this time of year. Don't worry; my cards to my Dad and Grandpa have already been sent.
However, a gift idea is still something I'm searching for. My Dad is one of the most influential people in my life, and that is something that can truly change a child's life. The great part about working for BiddingForGood is that we connect fundraisers and consumers, and we usually connect them in a quick turnaround time with attractive items and experiences. This is where last-minute holiday gifts are primed for the taking.
Holiday shopping is always tricky. As I posted a couple months ago, shopping online makes so much more sense now, especially when you are busy at work and have no time to go to the stores to get that new lawn mower or Starbucks gift card. For our national readers, I am going to provide links to some items that are closing soon. Even if you are still bidding on these items, you can print out your bid alert and tell your father you are fighting for him! Remember, it's the thought that counts!
These are great items that support great causes. Take a look and place a bid!
Father's Day Brunch
Napa Valley Dream Experience
The Yankee Stadium Experience
4 Cardinals vs. Astros Tickets
2012 Season Golf Pass
Family Fun Day!
Box of Montecristo Cigars
Happy Father's Day to all you great Dads out there. Keep up the great work!
Recently the NY Times published an article about the fundraising efforts of New York City PTAs and how some schools are raising up to (and even beyond) $1 million each year. Due to budget cuts, many PTAs are trying to fill the gap to help cover costs in their children’s education by asking parents for contributions. And that goal isn’t achieved by asking parents to help sell chocolate bars or run a bake sale, many are asking for straight donations. And it’s not just $25 or $100 here or there – we’re talking donations in the thousands of dollars.
This article, along with another related piece, raises some eyebrows and emotion from some. For many, it’s a story of the “haves” and the “have-nots.” The schools with wealthier parents are more likely to get more financial support from families because they can afford it. What about the schools in poorer communities? Even with some additional federal funding, sometimes that doesn’t cover it all and the reality is that parents in those communities, even though they support their children and are active in their education, can’t help with additional contributions. For others, it’s the principle: isn’t public school supposed to be free? Sure a check here or there to help pay for school trips or running a bake sale is one thing, but parents, with their own financial constraints, are feeling the burn and simply can’t give a major gift to their children’s school each year.
Many parents said that they have felt nickel and dimed. And, even though I’m not a parent, I can see where they’re coming from. In the fundraising world, it sounds a lot like donor fatigue. You’re asking the same group of people for money, all year long, year after year – at least until their kid leaves the school, but then the cycle starts again in the new school.
What’s the solution? Is there one? The bottom line is that some public schools simply cannot operate without the help of the PTA, parent contributions, and other fundraising efforts. At the same time, not everyone can easily, or wants to, whip out their checkbooks and donate every time they get a letter from their PTA.
I often tell my clients, when you’re fundraising, you want to cast as wide a net as possible. So it might be time to look past your current donor base. Running an online auction can be a way to reach more people. When you run an online auction through BiddingForGood, not only is the auction available to extended families and friends, but you’re opening it to our bidder community, some of which are probably going to be interested in bidding on some of your items. Plus, there are most likely some parents bidding on items – the big difference is that they’re getting an item in exchange for their contribution,
I’m sure there are other solutions out there in addition to running an online auction. For example, I’ve seen many restaurants and stores host benefit nights where a percentage of their sales from one day go to a specific charity. Cuts in education unfortunately don’t look like they’re going away any time soon, so it might be time to get a little creative with your fundraising plans.
Have you read this NY Times article? If not, check it out and become part of the conversation.
Like all big issues, there isn't a simple solution
Recently, BiddingForGood employees attended at "social media for social good 101" session for nonprofits. I was surprised to see many nonprofit faces that have yet to dip their toes into the world of social media. The good news is more and more of these people are taking their first steps to become Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest gurus.
Today, I will be discussing Facebook and how it can be a valuable tool for non-profits. Facebook has directly catered to nonprofits present on the social network with a resource page, facebook.com/nonprofits, specifically to help them use the site.
1. Create a Facebook Page- Facebook Pages allow you to publish directly into the news stream where you can engage your fans with a variety of different media, such as videos, polls and status updates. Secondly, Pages allow you to analyze how fans are interacting with your page via the Insights Dashboard, giving you instant feedback to help you adjust your method. You can also do things like buy advertising on Facebook for your Page to increase your number of fans (more on that below).
2. Use Causes- Causes launched in 2007 to help Facebook users to be able to make a difference without having to leave the social network. The application markets itself as a way for anyone to make a difference using Facebook to tell friends about causes, ask them to donate and generally get the word out.
3. Make Your Facebook Page Unique- If you’re just going to duplicate what’s already on your web site on Facebook, you’re missing the point of taking your message to a social network. The idea is create content that’s Facebook-specific and build a community there. It’s easy to just point fans back to your web site, but these Pages tend to be less interesting than ones that keep users engaged on the same page with unique content that’s not on their web site.
4. Be Active- Use your Page to give Facebook users an idea of what your organization does in real life. Plug events, fundraisers, meetings and other activities. Publish insightful and interesting information in your status updates, ask your fans what they think with polls or when you post videos, photos or other links. Ask your fans to utilize the Share options when you publish to your Wall.
5. Talk Back- You don’t have to answer every single question or respond to all your fans’ comments, but an occasional reply gives the impression that an organization is engaged with its fan base and interested in what they have to say. And that’s important because, well, Facebook is a social network (emphasis on the social) and communication is at the core of social networks.
6. Create an App, Game or Quiz- Finding new and creative ways to engage your fans is an important part of fostering an active Facebook community that will want to take their engagement from the virtual to real world by becoming involved in your group physically or fiscally.
7. Add a Store, Donations or Other Boxes- Adding a store or donations box right on your Facebook Page makes it easier for fans to buy merchandise or give money to your organization. There are all types of features you can add to your Page that allow your fans to feel ownership of your organization, like a fan badge or a sign petition box for their profile pages. The added bonus of this type of promotion is that, it gets lots of new eyeballs to notice you.
8. Heed Feedback- It’s important to monitor your Facebook Page to see what’s working and what’s not. Do your video posts get more comments than your blog posts? Are fans checking out your Causes page or your store? Also, as the administrator of a page you can always check the Insights Dashboard for specific information on the age, sex and location of your fans.
9. Segue Into Other Media- It is important to utilize social media to the max, not only focusing on Facebook and Twitter, but utilizing text messaging, email, phone calls and even its own unique social network.
10. Buy a Facebook Ad- Facebook ads — displayed on the right-hand side of a user’s Page — are an easy, economical and effective way to increase your fan base or visits to your page. The self-serve advertising system allows you to place orders for people (or profiles) that match whatever demographic requirements you may have, mothers of children with a certain illness for example, and you’re only charged for performance.
For more detailed information, please see Facebook article by Sara Inés Calderón.
At BiddingForGood, we understand what an integral part of an online auction can be for a live event. We want to help you get people to your live fundraising event and keep all your ticket sales in one place.
In a recent survey, BiddingForGood found that 86% our bidders want to purchase event tickets online. In the past, we have helped our clients take ticket orders through our site via email. However, there were some limitations. We did not collect credit card information with the order. Our clients would then have to follow up with the bidder to get their credit card number and arrange payment for the tickets. If the organization was using our partner Greater Giving or IATS to process payments, they still had to contact the bidder and process the credit cards for ticket sales separately and clients could only offer one price point for their tickets.
So, What's New?
We have taken our ticketing functionality to the next level with "Smart Ticketing." We now ask bidders for their credit card information so they can purchase tickets. We allow clients to create multiple price points for their tickets. For example, individual tickets, tickets for couples, or tables can now be offered. Nonprofits using Greater Giving or IATS can simply process those tickets through our site and don’t have to follow up with bidders for credit card information. For clients using the Secure Credit Card Report, they can now access the bidders’ credit card information for tickets sales from that report and don’t have to follow up with their bidders for payment either.
As part of Smart Ticketing, we have added a Live Event Info button to the homepage. Bidders can click the button to get additional information about the event and buy their tickets. Our clients can include all of their event info there along with the location of the event. This automatically generates a map that links through to Google maps to help bidders find directions. Bidders also need to register online to buy their tickets. So they’ll be all set to start bidding online and they’ll have purchased their tickets.
We have some valuable statistics from our recent survey on how the new ticket functionality (Smart Ticketing) is helping our clients raise more money:
- Our clients sold $162,000 worth of tickets
- The average ticket sold for $65
- As of April 2012, 66 orgs have sold 3,949 tickets generating $297,000 of needed revenue
- The average organization is generating another $4,500 of value off our platform from ticket sales.
If you want to learn more about how to use our new Event Ticket function (Smart Ticketing), email our Client Services Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 866-621-0394.
Giving is Good by Mark McCurdy
Mark McCurdy is a Renewal Sales Rep here at BiddingForGood and author of an excellent book called Strategic Volunteering: 50 Ingredients to Transform Your Life and Career. I had the chance to sit down with him this week and chat about his experiences volunteering and how he began volunteering at an early age.
“I started through church growing up. My mother ran a small adoption agency, so I would help out there. Volunteerism was always there. Whether it was stuffing envelopes or helping with fundraising. It was a family thing. “
Mark continued to volunteer through high school and college, but it was after he graduated from college that his passion for volunteering really began to flourish. He began to discover a connection between growing personally and professionally through volunteering.
“I began working with an organization that was a staffing company for nonprofits in NYC and I found YNPN (Young Non-profit Professionals Network) which is great resource. They have all different types of events, panel discussions, and volunteer opportunities with non-profits. Now I volunteer with a non-profit called Career Collaborative. I give practice interviews to low income individuals. I have also been on the board for two years for the organization called Adoption and Foster Care Mentoring, and I’m now on the advisory board. I also do the Parkinson’s Unity Walk in Central Park once a year. “
What is the key to volunteering?
“Think about something you are really passionate about. Find organizations that are a good fit for you. If you are interested in cooking or food, try providing meals, feeding the homeless or something around sustainable food sources. Second, if there is something that is really painful in your life, you can use that. Like my father has Parkinson’s. So I’m very passionate about that. Volunteering can be a way to use pain in a good way. “
Mark is very passionate about encouraging others to volunteer to live a fuller and more meaningful life. He explains that volunteering can help you start to bridge the gap between the job you have and the career you want, and also to develop deep gratitude and find joy in your life. Mark even let me in on a secret; volunteering can even make you healthier. He says, “There is a study that shows how volunteering makes you healthier; mentally and physically. There are several studies out there about it.”
The first study Marked referred to includes this statement from Thomas H. Sander, executive director of the Saguaro Seminar at Harvard University: “Civic Engagement and volunteering is the new hybrid health club for the 21st century that's free to join. Social capital research shows it miraculously improves both your health AND the community's through the work performed and the social ties built.”
Mark has some great pointers for our nonprofits:
“Look into YNPN . The other thing is to think about what skills you are looking for and how to find people with them. And focus on skill based volunteering. Volunteers can develop their professional skill set. Don’t forget about AmeriCorps and LinkedIn. The Job and Non-profits section on Linked In. Volunteer opportunities can be listed there. Also connect with your local One Stop Career Center. “
Mark has really made his passion for helping people and for using his own skills to help others part of his own life’s work. He’s now using his skills here at BiddingForGood to help our nonprofits reach their fundraising goals. He has his own consulting business named “Consulting: The Nonprofit Career Coach.” (Check out his website: www.thenonprofitcareercoach.org.) I had a chance to read Mark’s book and found it informative and inspiring! His book is available on amazon.com and I promise it will allow you to see volunteering in a whole new way!
'Tis the season…to start walking (or running or biking) for charity! Fundraising walk season is in full force and I’m sure you’ve already noticed an uptick in advertisements, posters, along with friends and family asking for donations for an upcoming event.
In fact, just a couple of Sundays ago, on May 6th, my fiancé and I were just two out of the 41,000 people who participated in the Walk for Hunger in Boston. The Walk for Hunger is a 20 mile walk to help raise funds for Project Bread. This walk alone raised a much needed $3.6 million dollars which will help a range of community hunger relief programs throughoutMassachusetts.
It’s been noted that fundraising walks/run/etc can be great way to not only raise money, but also increase awareness for the non-profit running it. According to a 2011 Run Walk Ride Foundation study, the top-thirty “thon” programs raised $1.69 billion in gross revenue for the charity. The top charity was The Relay for Life, raising $415 million. The same study also showed a 1.76% increase in participation too.
Since middle school, I’ve participated in many fundraising walks and runs, my first being the AIDS Walk in NYC. Then when I started running, I also started participating in 5Ks and other charity fun runs and races. (My first 5K ever was the M.O.M.’s Run in Somerville 3 years ago.)
I enjoy participating in these walks and runs because not only am I exercising (which we all know I love), I’m also helping a non-profit with their fundraising efforts, and the events are usually pretty fun! Many of them offer incentives for raising certain amounts of money (I got a nice shirt from Project Bread for raising over $500.), as well as snacks and entertainment during and after the event.
I think that’s why fundraising walks and runs have gained so much popularity in the non-profit world and with its participants: it’s pretty fun way to spend a day (or 3 depending on the event) all while raising funds for a charity you support…and you might even get a cool shirt.
“What do you do hot shot? What do you do?”
Dennis Hopper’s voice as the villain in the epically amazing 90’s movie SPEED is the only thing I can think about as I compose this blog post. When this piece is posted it will be less than 48 hours until Mother’s Day is upon us and once again I have no plan or gifts to celebrate some of the most important women in my life.
There are only two people in my life that I happily recognize on this special holiday; my mother, who had a major role in me begin alive right now, and my fiancée, the “mother” of our two freeloading cats. I’m again up against the clock and I know the perfect place to get the gifts that these two special ladies deserve for putting up with me for all these years (a combined 39 in all). That perfect place is BiddingforGood.
First, let’s start with my mom. She has lived in Western Massachusetts for more than 35 years and leads a simple but exciting life. There is church on Sunday, coffee with the girls on Wednesday nights and she keeps her pool cleaner than any YMCA in the country. She has almost everything she could need but after checking out BiddingForGood, there are a few things I think would put a smile on her face.
Two (2) Stay – Bayside Resort, Cape Cod, MA
16-in. Pearl Necklace
Beautiful Artwork by signed by artist Charles Lundgren
Ok, mom is set….on to the tough one….the future Mrs. Eric. Now remember we only have pets at the moment but this is a great opportunity for me to practice in preparation for kids one day. I have a lot more flexibility now with the four-legged children then I will with the two-legged ones. She is a big music fan, loves sports, is a big fan of traveling and loves an occasional glass of wine so I know there are a few items that would really appeal to her up for auction right now.
2005 Coniglio Cab.
Red Sox Tickets
New Orleans Royal Sonesta Stay
Happy Mother's Day to all those mothers out there that keep this world turning! We all owe you everything.