We are frequently asked what is the best way to go about getting great auction item donations. Our answer is to Start Early and Think Outside the Box. We always recommend beginning with your list of donors from the previous year. Write a personalized donation request letter to each of those donors along with a donation request form. Follow up in 1 month with an email request. Follow up in another month with a personal phone call.
Keep a stack of donation forms with you in your car and be sure to ask for a donation wherever you are spending money as a customer. Businesses are more likely to give donations to people who are supporting their business. The 3 things that sell the best at any auction: Experiences, Alcohol & Food! Here are some “Think Outside the Box” ideas:
- Host a “gathering of goods” party at your house. Ask your friends to come to a wine tasting at your home and have each guest bring 2 bottles of wine – 1 to taste and 1 to be donated to the auction. This could be done with any other item as well – decide what type of basket you are trying to make and ask your guests to help you fill it rather than bringing you a hostess gift.
- Your hair/nail salon, massage therapist and favorite restaurateur are all WAITING for you to ask them for a donation. Making an auction donation is an easy way for them to get a new customer who will hopefully turn into a long term customer.
- Who do you know that has a vacation home in Colorado or elsewhere? Please ask them for a weekend stay.
- Do you have unused points/rewards on your credit card that need to be cashed in before the end of the year? Cash them in and donate the gift certificate.
- Do you have a friend that has just started a new business and is looking to get some advertising? Donating a basket of items or gift certificates is a great way to get exposure for the home businesses.
- If you know of anyone that has a cool job (police, firefighter, judge, etc.) – we are trying to put together a section of “Experiences” donation items (A Day with a Vet, A Day with a Dentist, etc.)
- Who do you know that has season tickets for sporting events or the theatre? Ask them to donate a set of tickets for a date they are unable to attend.
- Ask your friends to give the gift of whatever professional service they can offer – tax accounting, piano lessons, scrapbooking, babysitting?
- Call a school or non-profit in a destination city and ask to Swap a trip with them. You give them a Colorado getaway and they give you a getaway in their city.