I was going to begin this Blog with a little bit of fun wrapped around the branding of Louie Vuitton but I soon realized that I didn’t have a clue plus I knew all of our “Male” fans out there would start to suspect that I was sounding a little “less” me lol. In fact, I just stopped in mid-sentence and thought “What in the world am I trying to write here.” So, lets just get right to it.
Yesterday, I got a phone call from one of our fantastic BW Unlimited Charity Specialists – Jimmy Smithers. During the phone call, Jimmy started telling me about speaking to a client in San Francisco about the importance of our “No Risk Auction Items.” I sat there, quiet on the other end and not saying a word…which as you know is not me lol. In fact, Jimmy stopped to ask “Are you there?” which made me laugh slightly. I told him “No Jimmy, you’re 100% right about what you’re saying and I am very impressed because you hit the nail right on the head.” To be honest, I was very impressed with his analogy and congratulated him on it. I told him that I was going to write a blog on what he was trying to convey to his client. Even though I am at the forefront of BW Unlimited, I am EXTREMELY impressed when I hear others talking about us, informing charities of the importance of what we do and how we can absolutely positively affect their bottom line. So with that, here is what Jimmy told his client…with a little expanded upon.
First, have you seen a Louie Vuitton hand bag? From what little I can see, they seem well constructed but the bottom line is…they are just a bag with a logo on it. The logo or brand, in marketing terms, display style and sophistication and is sought after by women all over the world. Having one of those bags on your arm is not because you need a sturdy bag that will hold everything in the kitchen sink like my wife’s pocketbook, no “It’s the brand”…women want everyone to see that they have the juice to carry a Louie Vuitton purse!!! It’s all about the show!!!
Women pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy Vuitton bags because of the value…the perceived value of the Brand and not the functionality. In reality, if they wanted a bag for the purpose of carrying 20 lbs. of crap, they would just go to their local Walmart and buy a sturdy carry all. In fact, if they liked the look of a Louie Vuitton but not the price, they could buy a knock-off. But that’s not it at all…they will seek out a REAL, Authentic, Louie Vuitton or some other sought after brand name hand bag and pay the asking price no matter how high it is. Recently, I was in Atlanta, in the Buckhead section which is one of the wealthiest places in the U.S. I stopped by a local Mall, which had valet service believe it or not. Inside the mall, my inquisitive nature sent me inside a Prada Store where I saw that none of their products had price tags. I told my son about it and he said “well, from what I understand Dad, if you need to ask for the price, you can’t afford it.” I stared back at him in disbelief. So, I looked for an employee and ask about the price. She looked at me down her nose and laughed as if I was a peasant. Now, you should understand I don’t know the first thing about purses, pocketbooks or anything feminine whatsoever, but ask me about sports, politics or what kind of tires I have on my truck and I’m good. This purse was small, leather and black…nothing special – but it was “Prada” with the brand prominently displayed. She said “Oh sir, that fine bag is $1,780.00”…I literally wanted to grab my chest, like Fred Sanford (knowing full well most of you reading this will have no clue who he is – an old TV show of a junkman who used to have fake heart attacks). I held back my natural response of “What? Are you serious?”…I just walked out the door stunned.
But what does this have to do with Charity Fundraising? This is exactly where Jimmy conveyed it over and above what I know to be 110% right!!! People will pay ridiculous amounts of money for items which they have GOT to have!!! But the item or items they have their eyes on MUST have that type of appeal!!!
For instance, in a charity setting, do you think people will go financially nuts over a $100 Gift Certificate? Or how about a somewhat local vacation home? Or let’s take it a step further…how about a gift basket from the store down on the corner? No…absolutely positively 100% NO!!! If you are convinced that the donations you have at your event will raise you top dollar – STOP READING HERE!!! If you can’t hear the reality of the fundraising world or how people spend money in a fundraising setting, then the reality of this rant is not for you.
These are the types of normal donations that people or charities get on a very…very routine basis. A Round of Golf, Gift Baskets, Gift Certificates, crafts, handmade items, pieces of low end jewelry, a local vacation home…those type of things. I bet while you were reading the preceding line, you found that you were drifting off weren’t you? They are BORING….BOOOOOR BOOOOORING!!! Don’t you think charity goer’s will think the same thing? Yes…absolutely. People come to Charity Events….LOOKING FOR A DEAL!!!!
I have seen it time and time and time again…in fact, I did it myself over the years. Charities put a $100 gift certificate on a Silent Auction and for some unknown reason, they think…honestly, they think that their supporters will bid the $100 or above it. IT…NEVER…HAPPENS…PERIOD!!! Let me say that again…it never happens. If people wanted to buy a $100 Gift Certificate, they will go and buy it themselves!!! They are looking for a Deal!! They want to go home and tell their friends and loved ones…”I got a $100 Gift Certificate at the ABC Charity Event for $40…can you believe it?”
Why won’t charities open their eyes and realize this? Yes, true they keep 100% of the money…but how much is the 100% getting them? Very little plus it makes their event BOOOOOR BOOOOOORING!!!
Ok….lets break it down. Let’s compare two Charity Events, lets say Event “A” and Event “B”:
Charity Event “A”: The organizers of Charity Event “A” are normal people just trying to do good. They are giving their best to make their event the best it can possibly be. They truly have scoured the community for items to auction and to help them raise the maximum dollar for their cause. Here is what they received in the way of donations: 5 Restaurant Gift Certificates ranging from $25 to $100, 9 Gift Baskets, a case of wine from a local liquor store, several pieces of jewelry from a local vendor, 3 Mary Kay Baskets, a Pampered Chef Basket, several pampering Gift certificates such as a massage, manicure, facials etc., a foursome round of golf, a putter, two tickets to the game, several movie Gift Certificates, a Gift Certificate for a children’s birthday party. A signed baseball without a certificate of authenticity, a hand painted picture from a local artist. They did a great job and were able to get a bunch of great items for people to bid on.
Charity Event “B”: The organizers of Charity Event “B” are normal people just trying to do good. They are also giving their best to make their event the best it can possibly be….BUT, they attended Charity Event “A” and realized, educated themselves and watched how the bidding went on the donated items. They listened to the crowd and heard their friends say that they weren’t very excited about the auction items. For some reason, the organizers of Charity Event “B” wanted to be different, unique and present a fundraiser to their supporters that would blow them away. So, they sought out donations and received nearly exactly what the organizers of Charity Event “A” had….but, here is what they did. They added the following to their silent and live auction and used the donated items or their raffles…nearly quadrupling their money. They added these items: Hand signed Sports items from their local NFL Football and Baseball Team – they had hand signed Full Size Helmets and Jersey’s to their live auction, they had hand signed 16 x 20 framed and matted photos of their hot player or players. They have hand signed balls, bats, boxing gloves. They have Jewelry for their female supporters, Celebrity signed photos – framed and unframed. On their Live Auction, they have a hand signed Guitar and Album, several Travel Packages all over the world along with a couple VIP Experiences. They also started a Facebook Page marketing their hard to find items that will be at their event which has drawn a lot of interest.
So…what is the difference? As a person standing back looking at both events…as if you were going to attend one or the other but not close to either, what would you think? Absolutely positively you would want to go to Charity Event “B.”
What Jimmy was conveying to his client was that people want quality and hard to find items. They want those items because they can’t just purchase them regularly. Plus they have no intrinsic value…meaning, people don’t know what they are worth like a $50 gift certificate. At Charity Events, people will only pay at most ½ to ¾’s at the very most of what they are worth…if you don’t agree with this, test it. People are looking for a deal…PLEASE LISTEN to that statement….PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR A DEAL!!!
But you offer items which have no known retail as well as have a “Draw” to them…people will bid ridiculous amounts of money because of the unknown retail. For instance, recently we auctioned off a Peyton Manning signed Pro-Line Helmet. The Cost to nonprofit was $350.00 but it sold for $1,750.00!!! that’s a $1,400.00 profit on ONE ITEM ALONE!!! Now, would you get the same response from a Gift Certificate or Gift Basket….NO!!! Another example, we recently auctioned off a hand signed Bruce Springsteen Guitar. Cost to Nonprofit was $1,500.00 – Sold for $55,000.00 / Profit: $53,500.00.
Yes, you will keep 100% of $40…but if you deduct the $350 from $1,750.00 – you will keep 100% of $1,400.00!!! Can you see it…do you understand?
Day in and day out, both I and all of our Charity Fundraising Representatives, like Jimmy, hear from Charities all over North America “No, we do not accept items of this nature.” Why is that…because they do understand the value of these items nor are they up to date on charitable spending. People want hard to find items, items which have a much higher value!!!
Now about Donated items…businesses will only donate items which they can part with. Plus, remember this…you are not the only charity seeking donations – there are 104 Million in the U.S. alone!!! One such charity has 1,500 chapters which hold 7,500 fundraising events a year!!!
Think about it….plus, the secondary effect of having these types of items is the appeal to the attendees. Ask yourself, what would you rather see or spend your money on? What will cause a much bigger splash in your area? The one with the normal items or the one with Signed Sports, Celebrity and Music items…you be the judge.
Please, educate yourself on what people like. The reason BW Unlimited has had years of success assisting charities is based solely on this method – we plan events as the person attending, sitting at the table and NOT as the organization. What will your guests like to see, what will they like to buy…
If you would like our assistance or to discuss why these items work much better, please contact us today. One of our many Charity Fundraising Specialists all across North America would love to help you.
Please visit our website at www.BWUnlimited.com.