I’m up. It is 5:15am on a Saturday and in a few hours I’ll be on a flight to Dallas. This is how things go when you’re on the road and I couldn’t ask for anything more. I roll out of bed and start making coffee to help kick-start my morning. With my bags packed and coffee in hand I drive to the airport to catch my flight. Wendy, one of our stellar Auction Experts, joins me and we hop on our plane. Once we are settled on the plane, we review the final details to help Fox Sports SouthWest crush their fundraising goal. They are doing this fundraising auction on September 11th on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Fund . Our goal is lofty, last year they raised over $150,000 and this year we’re hoping to raise over $200,000.
Preparation starts weeks before we cross the Texas border with check-in calls, checklists, analysis with trained Auction Experts and of course our game plan. When working with BiddingForGood we stick by our claim that we help at every stage of the fundraising process.
Fortunately for us, Fox Sports SouthWest is eager to put the plan in place and what happens next is what we hope all our clients experience- coordinated chaos.
We touch down at 10am local time and it is straight to the Ranger’s stadium. We’ve done large events but a packed stadium is clearly on another level and isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s only a few hours before the fans start to fill the stands. I’m excited to meet bidders and help them experience our fundraising software. Setting up a fundraiser is different at each venue and today we’re parked inside the Captain Morgan Club, which is an easily accessible public area. This will be our home base for the next few hours. Having a central location is extremely important for a number of reasons;
- You want volunteers and staff to point curious bidders to one place
- Providing computers for those not familiar with mobile devices will allow bidding from the less tech savvy audience
- Learning our platform is easy but having one location where we can train the volunteers allows us to provide training that is uniform
It’s now 5pm and things are in full swing. Batter up! Bidding is announced on the radio, TV, and across the stadium on giant screens. People are excited and ready to place their bids. This registration rush is normal and exciting. Everyone wants to get in on the action and with trained volunteers we are able to get bids in and start raising funds. Things are moving faster than last year, a good sign for things to come.
Now in extra innings the Rangers pull a win which seems quite fitting for the event as a whole. Not only have we surpassed this year’s goal and last year’s number but we are now sitting on a new record for Fox Sports SouthWest. Everyone is elated and we are jumping around the Captain Morgan Club. Luckily a camera isn’t snapping our silliness. All in all a great event and as we pack up our gear we receive compliments and congratulatory remarks from everyone on staff and even the General Manager. This is why we do this. A great cause, a great event and over $200,000 to help those in need. Not a bad days work.
Stay tuned for my next “On the road with Rissler” post!
Many couples have something in common- some like to go hiking together, others play on a sports team together, and others take couples cooking classes. My fiancé, Ben, and I pride ourselves on being efficient. I enjoy keeping organized and being ahead of schedule. I love writing checklists and especially love the feeling of accomplishment when I cross something off. Ben hates slow walkers and likes to get from point A to B in the shortest amount of time possible. In fact, when we take the T together he always gets in the car that will drop us off as close to the exit as possible.
Put these qualities together and it results in trips to the supermarket that are incredibly strategic. There’s no wandering around aimlessly – we walk in there with a plan of attack to ensure that we get all of the items we need, in the least amount of steps possible, and can leave in the shortest amount of time.
So, when we got engaged earlier this year and started planning our wedding, we naturally felt compelled to continue on this path of efficiency and organization. We set a date for over a year out, just to have enough time to get as much done ahead of schedule without a lot of stress. Venue: booked! Dress: ordered! Photographer: deposit made! Cake Topper: in a box in the living room! You see? This gal isn’t going to become a stressed out, fire-breathing Bridezilla! (Nor is Ben becoming a Groomzilla.)
We’ve discussed this before, but planning a wedding is a lot like planning an auction. There’s a lot of preparation involved, people you’re trying to please, and things that need to get done to ensure success. One of the points I try to make with my clients is that if you give yourself plenty of time to prepare your auction doesn’t have to be stressful and anxiety-inducing. There are plenty of things to do well in advance:
- Prepare your lists of potential donors to solicit for item donations: That way they’re ready for you and your team to contact as soon as you’re ready for your item acquisition campaign to start (we recommend at least 8-10 weeks out).
- Prepare your solicitation letter to donors: Again, so it’s ready when you’re ready to start the acquisition campaign.
- Upload your email lists: Then they’re ready when you’re ready to start promoting (plan on promoting at least a few weeks before the auction opens)
- Create a Coming Soon page: Even if it’s not activated yet, you can start entering information about your organization, set your auction colors, and upload your banner.
I cringe every time someone tells me to “just wait” until it’s a month before my wedding because I will definitely be stressed then. I know that there are going to be several things that can’t be done until a few weeks before the wedding or even the day of. As much as I would love to buy my cake now, I know I won’t be able to do that until its a little closer to the "big day". I also can’t get my hair and makeup done until the day of.
Likewise, there are some things that will either happen last minute or you won’t be able to address until your auction opens. Even though you set a deadline to have items sent to you two weeks before your auction opens, you may get some last minute donations and you’ll have to add those items to your catalog the day the auction opens. Perhaps one of your items’ descriptions had some inaccurate information and now you need to correct the item, contact bidders, and potentially remove bids.
The way I see it, if Ben and I take care of as much as possible now, the days approaching the wedding and “big day” itself will be much easier to manage. If something springs up at the last minute, we’ll be able to address it in stride. The same thing applies to your auction: If you can give yourself some time to prepare, plan and get organized, you’ll be in a better position to handle those last minute issues and final details.
As my "wedding day" approaches and your "auction day" approaches, I will be looking forward to comparing notes with many of you to see how our planning paid off!
Over the last year, we have been talking about the concept of a Smart Auction. This idea was introduced around the launch of our Smart Bidding offering. Being able to bid on a mobile device at a live event has brought very exciting changes to the world of fundraising auctions and we've been right there, bringing the latest and greatest to our customers. Smart Auctions bring together the best elements of silent, live and online auctions and are enabled through any device, from anywhere, at any time.
So along with a new way to think about auctions and to talk about auctions we are also renaming our blog to best represent our world of Smart Auctions. Over the last year, we've actually had two different blogs- Online Auction Central and Goodness in Action. Online Auction Central has been the place where we have shared tips and tricks about running successful online auctions. Goodness in Action has been the place where we have put the spotlight on organizations and ideas that embody the notion of Goodness In Action. As a company we are committed to both sharing best practices, supporting our customers throughout the process of running their fundraising events AND to thought-leadership and sharing provocative ideas to inspire more "Goodness in Action".
So next week our blogs will come together into one blog called Smart Auction Central. We will continue to do what we've always done in these blogs and will continue to share what we know, inspire success and celebrate the great work of nonprofits and schools. As always, we invite you to share as well, to comment on what you're reading, and to spread the good word. We're very committed to our mission which is all about helping you be more successful in your fundraising so that you can further your mission as well. Rock on.
Can’t get enough of our webinars? Know the basics and want to learn more? Well, you’re in luck because Auction Expert Jenny Fox is back to present two special edition webinars this summer just for our clients!
Coming up this Friday, July 27th at 2 pm Eastern is The B4G Guide to Sponsorships! In this 20 minute presentation, you'll learn about the various sponsorship opportunities available in BiddingforGood's Auction Management Platform and be given the tools to develop your own sponsorship campaign for your next online auction. Click here to register!
On Friday, August 24th at 2pm Eastern, we'll present The B4G Guide to Successful Promotion. During this 20 minute presentation you will learn how to use different outlets, from email to social media, to promote your auction successfully. Click here to register!
There will also be a 10-minute Q&A session following each presentation. Also, all webinar registrants will receive a recording of the presentation and a copy of the slides.
You can also view a complete list of our webinars here: www.biddingforgood.com/customer-webinars
We hope you can make it!
I get a very interesting newsletter every month from the folks at TrendWatching.com.
This week in their Trend Briefings report they wrote about "Newism" and here's what they say..
"The ‘new’ has never been hotter, as the entire world, from emerging to mature economies, is now creating new products, services and experiences on a daily, if not hourly basis."
It made me reflect on a seminar that I spoke at recently for the Arts and Business Council of New York City. The event took place at the Foundation Center and brought together a number nonprofits to hear about fundraising auctions- new and old. It was a fascinating point/counterpoint as my co-presenter spoke about his church auction. It's an annual event and they do it the old-fashioned way. Here at BiddingForGood, we are so busy looking ahead to what's new that we sometimes forget to remember from whence we have come.
As I listened to him describe their auction, the challenges they face, the hurdles they try to overcome every year, I was actually very excited to realize just how far we have come. With technology, we have been able to break down the barriers of space and time. No longer does a fundraising event need to be confined to one location on one night with one finite group of people. No longer does the auction chair need to sweat how many people will actually show up at the event on the appointed night. Will the weather cooperate? Will the items arrive on time? Will the crowd be "feeling it". With our "newism"- Smart Auctions- many of those worries are mitigated. You can open your auction wide and invite a much broader audience. You can use all of the great tools that the internet offers to promote your event and your auction. You can create a special online destination for your auction where people can preview items in the comfort of their homes, where they can buy tickets, where they can make cash donations.
Most of my career has been about focusing on what's new and what's next. I was lucky enough to be on the original executive team of one of the first search engines on the web (AltaVista) We're talking 1997 here folks. And while it is always exciting to be looking forward, I've learned that it's a real challenge to help customers get ready to take the leap into something new. The Trend Briefing article makes the point that the pace of innovation and this emerging trend of Newism is affecting every product category and the way consumers think about products and companies. I'm wondering what we can do in this climate to help our customers make the leap. One of my favorite expressions is- "Jump in, the waters warm". Anyone have any ideas of ways that we can encourage our prospects to try the new, to move beyond the tried and true? If you have ideas, let us hear them.
What the heck.. it's summer, the air is warm and so is the water. Jump on in!
On June 18, 2012, BiddingForGood was on hand for the 4th Annual Joe Andruzzi Foundation Golf Tournament at Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy, MA. The event, which was co-hosted by current New England Patriots stars Rob Gronkowski and Rob Ninkovich, raised more the $150,000 to benefit cancer patients and their families as well as funding research related to pediatric cancer. The Foundation, which was founded by the former NFL player and his wife Jen following Joe’s bout with cancer in the mid-2000’s, has donated more than $300,000 to date to families and cancer research.
At the event, the Foundation chose to utilize BiddingForGood’s Smart Auction technology, allowing individuals on the golf course, to bid on silent auction items using their smart phones prior to, during and after their round. Additionally, because it was on BiddingForGood’s online platform, bidders around the country had the opportunity to bid alongside those in attendance.
By allowing bidders who cannot attend events to get involved in bidding and to allow those in attendance to be able to follow their bids on their phone from wherever they are in the room, this technology is fast replacing the traditional silent auction and its pen and paper bids.
And on this day, like in any good golf tournament, the competitive fever was high- both on the course and in the auction. And why wouldn't it be when you are pitting professional football players against each other, and all for a good cause.
Please click on the video below with highlights from the tournament.
To learn more about the great work being done by the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, please go to www.joeandruzzifoundation.org
Some organizations are concerned about how their Live Event Attendees will react to their new online auction. In past years, many of these organizations have held Live Events and Galas and introducing online auctions to the mix can seem daunting. It’s hard to know how people will react. Well, we have some good news for you! A recent survey completed by BiddingForGood shows that 81% of Live Event Attendees also enjoy bidding online. They appreciate the convenience of bidding online and like receiving outbid alerts via email. These features make it much easier for them to stay on top of their bidding.
The survey also found that 82% of Live Event Attendees were not focused on the silent auction. Some of the reasons being they didn’t know when they had been outbid, it was too crowded near the silent auction table, and they were more interested in socializing and enjoying the party. Online bidders, on the other hand, can easily see all the details of items, can bid from a laptop or mobile device and don’t have to push anyone out of the way to bid.
We often get asked whether or not Live Event Attendees will be upset if the auction is opened up to the public. In the past, only the attendees at a live event could bid. The worry is that there might be a backlash from past supporters. Well, we’ve got good news for you there too! Our survey showed that a whopping 95% of Live Event Attendees believe that fundraising auctions should be open to the public online. The bottom line is bidders want to support your nonprofit. They understand that more bids can translate to more dollars raised.
As we close in on what I think is the best holiday of the year (Happy Independence Day everyone!), it’s time to firm up plans for summer vacations and get to those books you have been meaning to get to since February. If you haven’t picked out your summer reading list yet, I have a few recommendations. Each book is paired up with related items up for grabs on BiddingForGood.
Born To Run – Christopher McDougall
The summertime is meant for being outdoors and what better way to spend some time in the sun than on a good run, which is exactly what this book will make you want to do after the first chapter. Chris McDougall’s best-seller from a few years back is a must read for athletes and casual sports fans alike. It’s a compelling look at how some of us are just born a little differently…..but in an amazing way.
BID NOW: Sports Basement $100 Gift Card (CA)
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
It’s time to revisit high school English class! Bronte’s only novel is an amazing read, whether it's your first or 30th time reading through it. The male lead, Heathcliff, was the original wild child of literature and you will be able to see which leading men over the past 150 years have been modeled after him. The love story between Heathlcliff and leading lady, Catherine, has been rehashed in many ways since this was first published, but few compare to the original.
BID NOW: Trip For 2 to London
RAFA – Rafael Nadal and John Carlin
Published in late 2011, this book is a great read for the biography lover in your house. The life story of the greatest tennis player (arguably) of the last 30 years, Nadel chronicles his upbringing and his driving force to be the best both on and off the court. At a little under 250 pages this is a quick three-drink read on the beach.
BID NOW: Franklin (MI) Racquet Clun Family Summer Membership
Starbucked – Taylor Clark
If you like coffee and have a passing interest in how Starbucks became STARBUCKS, then you will love Clark’s detailed look at history of the company and of its most important partner, the coffee bean. Diving deep into how the company came to life after a trip to Italy by founder Howard Schultz, this book explains what worked and what didn’t in those early years and how Schultz’s relentless drive put the company on top of the coffee world…twice.
BID NOW: Starbucks $50 Gift Card
In a recent blog post, Ellen McCullough wrote about how we use our analytics to advise our clients on how to make the most of their silent auctions. We’ve run over 6,700 auctions and have a lot of knowledge to share.
We are always interested in learning which categories perform best in online auctions and we frequently get asked which specific items do best. To help further answer this question, I have pulled the top 5 grossing items and how much they sold for. I’ve included reasons why they performed well so you can incorporate similar items for your own auction success.
1. Unique experiences with celebrities are auction gold! Harrison Ford "Experience" - Lunch and a Flight with Harrison Ford- Sold for $50,200
“The winning bidder and a guest will enjoy a spectacular flight around the LA Basin with famed actor and pilot Harrison Ford.”
The excitement bidders feel when bidding on beloved celebrity items is unparalleled. These types of items keep bidders returning to our site to eagerly look for their next once in a lifetime opportunity. Where else could they find a chance to enjoy a flight with Harrison Ford and have lunch with him afterwards? Just think, this winner bidder could find out from the man himself which Indiana Jones movie he thought was the best and maybe even settle a few pressing Star Wars questions.
2. Know your supporters! LIVE - ORTHOPHOS XG 3D -Sold for $59,000
“The ORTHOPHOS XG 3D combines all the advantages of 2D and 3D into one fantastic new X-RAY imaging solution.”
This X-RAY machine would not be of interest to most bidders. However, The American Association of Endodontists Foundation kept their supporters in mind when choosing their item catalog. They understood that their bidding community would have a real need for this type of item and would consider it an investment. Remember, when you put together your catalog, your supporters will be doing most of the bidding.
3. Choose items with long term value! USA TODAY- Sold for $31,500
“One full-page, black-and-white advertisement (Monday-Thursday) in the national edition of USA TODAY reaching more than 3.2 million readers."
Any business owner would leap at the chance to have that kind of advertising space. This is primetime ad space that would normally cost a business $125,600. Bidders could get a killer deal and help an organization with a substantial contribution.
4. Sports fans are competitive! VIP Cowboys Game Experience- Sold for $28,500
“This is THE America's Team VIP experience. Let's face it, the Cowboys are like no other team out there.”
There’s a reason sports tickets often inspire bidding wars. Not only do these bidders want their team to win, they what to win too! This Dallas Cowboys experience gave bidders a chance at 18 VIP seats in a gorgeous luxury booth, catered meals, 5 parking passes, and 18 sideline passes! The winner would also get to give 17 other Cowboys fans a truly thrilling experience. With sideline passes, they would get to be close to the field with the Press and Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders! There’s nothing like taking in a game, played by your favorite team, in killer seats, with friends and family by your side.
5. Everyone needs to get a way! Gulfstream 4 SP Private Jet Travel- Sold for $26,000
“Win 6 hours of round-trip private jet air travel to a destination of your choice for up to 14 passengers or VIP travel for a smaller group.”
Travel has always been one of our most popular categories, and it’s easy to understand why. There are a million reasons not to take a vacation and some of us need an extra nudge to actually take one. Giving to a great cause AND getting to take a private jet with your friends and family is like a dream! It’s no surprise that these bidders jumped at the chance.
Be sure to keep these lessons in mind as you work on item solicitation to build your catalog. Share the above items with your auction team and ask for their ideas on how to build upon these successes. With the right amount of creativity, persistence, and even a little luck, next year one of your items could be on our list of highest grossing items!
What comes to mind when you think of youth and volunteering? Perhaps it is traditional activities like serving food at a local homeless shelter, participating in a charity walk or community activities with the Boy and Girl Scouts. The aforementioned activities are great, but there are lots of alternative ways to get the kids involved in volunteering this summer.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Simone Bernstein, the Co-founder of Volunteer Nation. She started the nonprofit with her younger brother to help youth connect with volunteer opportunities across the country.
Simone talked about the growing number of virtual opportunities for youth to get involved in volunteerism. With many kids being passionate about technology, it is a great way for nonprofits to enhance or expand upon their social media strategy. Organizations could have youth volunteers spread helpful information and promote charity events via Twitter or Facebook or research other groups to follow, all with the thought of building the organization’s social media presence.
Teenagers and kids can also volunteer with their family. They can lead and organize a service project (such as a food, clothing or sporting-goods drive) in their local communities and schools. If kids can’t find a particular volunteer opportunity that appeals to them, then take action and help them create their own project. Planning and executing their own volunteer activities will help them develop leadership and organization skills along with a commitment to a cause. Some online resources for finding youth volunteerism opportunities that Simone recommends are GenerationOn.org (part of Points of Light) and DoSomething.org.
In doing more research on some alternative ideas for youth to volunteer, I found an article about 40 Ways for Kids to Volunteer. Here are five out-of-the-box ideas to jump start kids volunteering:
- Tutor a student who needs help learning English or another subject
- Help a pet shelter by walking dogs or playing with cats
- Collect unused make-up, perfume and other cosmetics for distribution to low-income women
- Hold a stuffed animal drive to benefit a local nonprofit
- Baby sit to help a single parent
Thanks for reading my post and please add a comment below if you would like to share other creative ways to get kids involved with volunteering. If you have other helpful national resources, feel free to share them as well. So, until next time, take action and volunteer your heart out!