It’s the perfect time of year to talk about some benefit auction ideas to combat what I call “Groundhog Day Blasé.”
This Wednesday, many weather-casters will give a nod to Punxsutawney Phil — a groundhog (aka “woodchuck”) –living in Punxsutawney, PA. They will comment on whether the critter has seen his shadow, thereby predicting six more weeks of winter.
One of my favorite movies showcases this annual weather festival. The 1993 Groundhog Day is a comedy in which the lead character Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) falls asleep each night only to wake up and relive the same day — Groundhog Day — again and again.
At first he uses the phenomenon for personal gain. But after experiencing the same day hundreds of times, he becomes bored of his personal pursuits and finds greater satisfaction in helping others.
Some benefit auctions are a lot like Phil Connors day in that movie. Nonprofits just repeat last year’s formula, year after year.
I call it “Groundhog Day Blasé” and here are the most common areas for you to be at risk.
Risk #1: Selling the same live auction items year after year.
School auctions seem to be at greater risk in this area than many nonprofit benefit auctions.
“Name the Lane?”
This blog has over 200 posts to browse for ideas on items, or get the current (free) Auction Item Guide™.
Risk #2: Using the same raffle.
There are dozens of fun raffles, and I strongly encourage you to move beyond a 50-50 raffle — which is one of the worst raffles ever for your charity.
Risk #3: Tied to this point (but slightly different) is using the same pricing.
One ticket for $5 and 6 tickets for $25 is … boring. And it’s likely not the best way for you to make the most money.
Risk #4: Relying on the same game every year.
Sure, Heads & Tails is interactive. But geez Louise, there are other auction games you can use to involve the crowd and make more money.
Risk #5: Using the same theme.
If yo have branded your auction by calling it the same name each year (such as the “Annual Fundraising Auction for Scholarships”), I can accept that.
But let’s make sure that we change the theme … the colors … the invitation. Let’s keep the look fresh. The name can remain, but let’s ensure it “feels” new and interesting to your guests.
To be clear, I love consistent branding in benefit auctions. But branding doesn’t mean every year the auction is the same.
For instance, I use a consistent brand with my own company’s marketing … but I don’t send out the same postcards year after year. My marketing practices are fairly consistent, but my marketing materials change. I’d encourage you to adopt that same approach.
P.S. If you’re lacking for ideas on new auction games, raffles, and the like, check out Charity Auction Bells & Whistles*. You’ll learn 22 different interactive activities to reinvigorate your event, your volunteers, and you. (*Note: We change programs every so often, and this program is no longer available. Check out the “Store” for what’s current.)
Great points in reminding everyone that keeping it fresh is always important.
Gail Perry says
Great suggestions, Sherry! It’s so important to keep reinventing those events – otherwise they get stale. I”m with Kivi, I’m forwarding now too!
Kivi Leroux Miller says
I’m going to forward this to some nonprofits I work with on events right now!
Sherry Truhlar says
Uh oh … sounds like some might feel like broken records? 🙂
Lori L. Jacobwith says
Keeping things fresh for your events, how you acknowledge donors after they give, and even in how you communicate with them all year-long is critical.
Sherry Truhlar says
Lori, I talked to a volunteer Mom today who said that her school auction parents haven’t been donating so much because — she learned, after research — they had never been thanked. One said that he’d donated year and year … and never been thanked. She was appalled, but admitted she’d never received a thank you, either. Yikes!
Betsy Baker says
Benefit auctions are so much fun and are an anticipated event. Don’t disappoint your attendees with the same old stuff. Keep it refreshing with surprising items.