I am often asked what is the best auction item to secure for an auction fundraiser.
Easy answer: Tickets to The Oprah Winfrey Show
In your auction, Oprah will outsell tickets to the Superbowl, a private helicopter charter to a Relaix and Chateaux property, and even the chance for a Presidential meet-and-greet. When Oprah tickets are up against any other item, it is — to borrow a WWE term — an Oprah SmackDown.
As one auction guest told me, “Even if you aren’t a huge fan of Oprah, she’s so generous, you might happen to be in the audience on the day she gives everybody some fabulous gift … like a car.”
Last week, Oprah announced she’s leave the show in the the fall 2011, at the end of its 25th season. But she’s not retiring. She’ll reappear in some fashion on her new venture, The Oprah Winfrey Network, which will replace the Discovery Health channel.
So right now, I imagine that Oprah and her team are busy planning one heck of a 2-year-long going-away party.
I predict that these last few months of her show will be stellar. I suspect she’ll include twice as many surprises. And I know that any group which manages to secure tickets to any one of her final shows will make an awful lot of money in its auction fundraiser. Wahoo!
My advice: Draft your letter. If you know someone affiliated with The Oprah Winfrey Show (or a similar show) always start by asking your contact.
Knowing somebody who knows somebody might be all it takes to get some of the limited VIP audience tickets often set aside for talk shows.
Don’t know anyone?
Still draft your letter. Write to the show, explain your cause, and ask for tickets. You’ll have a better shot if your cause is one that is aligned to Oprah’s beliefs: living your best life, being true to yourself, helping children, etc.
If this doesn’t sound like your charity, save your time (and Oprah’s) by directing your efforts on securing a different item.
(For a related post, I talked about the importance researching a celebrity’s interests.)
P.S. If you personally want to secure tickets to The Oprah Winfrey Show, the acquisition steps are different.
I’ll outline the process here, only because I suspect some readers would like to know.
A few years ago, The Oprah Winfrey Show had a call-in process. It’s since been transferred to an Internet-based reservation lottery system on www.Oprah.com. Fans can become a (free) member on the site, and — once inside your member profile site — access the Show Reservations area.
When the reservation window is open, you are able to submit your request. (At the time of this writing, the window is not open as no shows are being taped in December 2009. The window will re-open in January 2010.)
Within 24 hours of the reservation window closing, the seats are filled by a random selection process. If you are one of the chosen, you’ll be sent an email. You’ll have 48 hours to respond to the instructions in order to claim your tickets.
(And by the way … you’ll need to provide the first and last names and ages of all of your guests when you submit for a reservation! In addition to the lottery, this added level of detail is part of why it’s difficult to get tickets, and why you would not follow this format if you are trying to acquire tickets to be donated to a charity.)
Finally, Oprah’s site makes it clear that only tickets received through the show’s reservation system are valid, and that people should not be paying for tickets. That said, I do know legitimate charities have received Oprah tickets to sell at their auction fundraisers. Clearly, those tickets are coming through other channels and not through the “en masse” reservation system on the Website.
Although repeated entries through the show’s online reservation might improve your odds of winning tickets for your personal use, those tickets are not likely eligible for sale in an auction fundraiser.