A few years ago, one of my onsite clients utilized her entire consultation time with me by having me write all of her marketing emails leading up to the gala. Sometimes I’m asked to re-work sponsorship programs. And sometimes I am asked to revert to my old role at General Electric and be the event planner.
None of these are traditional “benefit auctioneer” roles, but they all impact your auction. And though I can do them all well, I really don’t like one of them.
Planning parties isn’t “my thing.” Even in my personal life, I throw myself upon the mercy of my friends for help. “We can hold it at my home,” I’ll say, “but I don’t want to be responsible for cooking, figuring out drinks, or music.”
Yet there are people in this world who like planning parties. They like parties so much, they build their business around them.
I’m talking about those many work-at-home, direct sales businesses … companies that advocate using home parties as a way to build a client base.
Direct sales businesses are hardly new. Growing up, my brother and I were taken on countless deliveries as my Mom, a Fuller Brush sales rep for now 40 years, would call on her clients around town, demonstrating products and making sales. And in my memory, I seem to recall Avon and Raleigh representatives visiting our home, too.
- For the most part, these types of businesses are operated by women.
- Benefit auctions are also operated by women (95% of the time).
- Let’s connect these dots.
Realize that auction galas rarely only raise money from selling items. They raise money via tickets, raffles, games, sponsorships, fund-a-needs, direct sales … all of these are revenue streams. And as a benefit auctioneer, I’m often teaching about these non-auction revenue streams …. like throwing a party before your gala.
If you tap into these direct sales business consultants, you might get cash, items, or both from a pre-gala party.
This approach is most often embraced by school auctions, perhaps because the moms are involved in one of these business ventures and are ready to help the school via her business.
Here are the direct sales companies I’ve seen tapped:
- Stella & Dot (jewelry)
- Arbonne (skincare)
- Lia Sophia (jewelry)
- Thirty One Gifts (purses)
- Pampered Chef (kitchen tools)
- UndercoverWear (lingerie)
- Mary Kay (makeup)
And here are some ideas I’ve seen from those businesses to support the auction:
- A woman hosted a party, received a number of free pieces for doing so, and donated those to the auction.
- A child’s mom agreed to donate half her earnings from a party she hosted.
- When exceptionally great deals were advertised to consultants one month, a mom let the auction team know. They bought some dirt-cheap merchandise through the consultant.
If you receive cash, you can decide how to use it. If it’s product, the merchandise you receive will most often be appropriate for silent auction items.
Got other ideas? Post below.
Christine Jackson says
I often donate my services and small basket of appropriate goodies to local charities. It’s a great way to get my name out into the community (the auction usually allows me to place my business cards next to my basket) and I am able to support a good cause! Win – Win!
Sherry Truhlar says
Good point, Christine. Having a few biz cards there *is* a win-win. Even if they don’t “win” the prize, they can get your contact info.
Nicole Ratner says
I appreciated what you wrote here. I am an Ex. Director for my full time job but do direct sales for lia Sophia whom you mentioned above. I do predominantly 75% fundraisers as my business. I typically donate my personal profits! It’s a win win all around. Wish more would take us up on this!
Sherry Truhlar says
Nicole, thanks for weighing in with the “insider’s scoop.” I’ve no doubt your nonprofits appreciate the donations!
jessica d says
Would it be worthwhile to see if some of these individual home based businesses would donate a product or two, and a “party” if you could package it with food, drink, etc and then the proceeds from the party would go back to the benefit as well?
Sherry Truhlar says
Jessica, sure it would. It depends on your auction, of course, and whether you have a fit. In a small, high-end live-auction-only gala, it’s not worth asking for the donation. But if the product is something your crowd would want and it fits your event, it would be.