One of my onsite clients was approached by one of their other vendors. He offered them a consigned condo.
They forwarded me his email. I nearly fell off my chair when I read it.
Here are the first few phrases of the email:
Here’s the “offer” email I typically send out 30 days before an event…
I hope you are making good progress on your donations for your upcoming event. I wanted to help with what I think is a win-win offer. My wife and I have a condo in ….
He goes on to explain the condo and his offer.
Want to know why I find this a bit disappointing?
“30 days before an event.”
This is a vendor working in the auction business. Surely he realizes how difficult procurement is for many groups. So why is he waiting until 30 days out to spring this on a client? Why not send the offer as soon as a group agrees to work with him, so they have time to carefully consider and market it?
If you’ve been running a fundraising auction for a while, you know that the difficulties of procurement aren’t always around ASKING. Sometimes it’s around RECEIVING.
For instance, have you ever said something like this …
- “Mrs. Persnickety agreed to donate her vacation home, but she STILL hasn’t sent us her details! She’s MISSED our print deadline!”
- Everyone turns in their donations SO LATE, we are up until the wee hours of the morning inputting data into the software.”
- “How can we get donors to donate ON TIME so we can get these items into our online catalog?
- “I want to take a photo of the basket, but she still HASN’T DROPPED IT OFF.”
In the case of my client, their marketing materials had been completed weeks ago. The live auction items — of which this condo would become — had all been beautifully described and mailed in a polished invitation and RSVP packet weeks earlier. The Powerpoint for the onsite program was being assembled.
And now … 30 days prior to show time … when the auction committee has dozens of other tasks to finish … a vendor (a vendor!) was offering them a consigned trip which – with adequate advanced marketing – might have sold well at their auction.
Here are two thoughts for you to consider.
First, a suggestion.
Unless an item is simply exquisite for your crowd, think twice before bending the rules and taking items beyond your procurement deadline.
If your procurement deadline is reasonable (meaning you’ve allowed adequate time to ask and receive), and you’ve done a fair job of reminding donors of the impending deadline, you shouldn’t change your plan to accommodate someone making a last-minute donation. More often than not, it tends to throw volunteers off their game.
Second, if you believe the item is “oh-so-perfect” and can’t be overlooked, you’ll need to conduct intensive marketing.
Ideally your marketing will be done before your auction gala. But at the least, do a bang-up job marketing it onsite.
To help you along, here are some onsite marketing ideas for those last minute fundraising auction donations you simply cannot refuse.
(Incidentally, the nonprofit agreed to take the condo but it failed to sell.)
P.S. If procurement is a thorn in your side, this fall I’m again leading my uber-popular Big Ticket Procurement Secrets course. Details aren’t yet formalized, but you can get pre-announcement details by expressing your interest here.