Monthly Archives: August 2013

“What do the Animals know that I don’t” – Noah’s Ark Fundraising

noahs-beaver-problemI am sure by now that everyone knows about Noah’s Ark.  Noah had a direct connection with the Almighty and prior to a massive flood which covered the world, he loaded up two of every single animal across the world onto one immense boat.  Can you imagine for a second how big that boat must have been?  As you can imagine, most of the animals must have began to find him because it would have taken centuries to collect them all.

But the important part was, the animals must have known something was coming and they easily climbed onto the boat for a seven day cruise (That’s a really bad reference to Gilligans Island).  They often say that animals know something before anyone else does.  And the same holds true in regard to Charity Fundraising.

Recently I met with an employee of an outdoor charity over lunch.  While we ate lunch, we discussed their National Package of items provided to their Charities.  What most don’t know is (this is where the Noah’s Ark reference makes sense), the Outdoor Charities provide their chapters with a product catalog of items they have to buy to put into their auctions.  These items range from Prints, statues, gear etc.  But they understand that people only want the “Good Stuff” and they must provide it to the Chapters to ensure their fundraising success.

Then we spoke about the reality of “Donations.”  Without skipping a beat, with a mouth full of French fries, he said “They are junk.”  But what was odd is, I was saying the exact same thing as he was saying it.  Donated products or Auction items are more often than not “Not the highest quality” otherwise known as “Junk.”

74149_178119295534827_100000102726561_631228_8109011_nNow, let’s go back 15 years ago when I was a volunteer seeking donations plus couple that with my experience in the Charity Fundraising community.  The donations I was able to get from local businesses were items which were commonly not that valuable.  During our fundraising events, we would use them as “Filler” for a package in a raffle or silent auction.  Today, in our fundraising events all across North America, you would not believe what I see that our Charity partners get donated.  Recently, I saw a used bread maker.

However, what the moral to this blog is this – Charities must have high quality items in their fundraising events to ensure that they get the maximum return.  You have to “Spend Money to Make Money.”  But outside of the outdoor industry charities, some charity organizers believe that everything must be donated.  I have written Blog after Blog about why that doesn’t make sense and how their fundraising efforts will be negatively affected if they stay with this line of thinking.

$(KGrHqF,!h0E9Q4N5VQJBPo(GsEH0g~~60_12Going back to the Noah’s Arc concept, the Outdoor Charities which raise money for Protection of Habitat or your rights as an outdoorsman, have figured it out.  When I first introduced the “No Risk Auction Item” concept to the North American charities, I started receiving some “Kick Back.”  We hear on a constant basis “Oh no….we can’t pay for items, they have to be donated.”  However, the facts remain which I addressed in my blog titled “How much is the Chicken” that the charities are paying for an entire list of items and services for their event but when it comes to the actual items they plan to raise money with – the thought seems to disappear.

I want to congratulate everyone who understood that high quality items are needed for fundraising events in the Outdoor Charities.  They cut the path for successful fundraising, however, now it’s time to start loading up the humans on Noah’s Ark.  They may learn a few things from our animal counterparts.

If you would like to learn more about why “No Risk Auction Items” guarantee success for your fundraising efforts, contact us at

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Posted by on August 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


Leading with our “Decorative Foot” – Why unsigned Decorative Items benefit Charities more then Autographed items


When Dorothy walked down the yellow brick road, she walked toward Oz wearing her Ruby Slippers.  Somehow, those Ruby heals made the walk much easier.

About a year ago, something happened that changed my opinion a great deal about Autographed Memorabilia.  Now, understand that BW Unlimited was founded on representing the “Charity First”, this mistake struck me right between the eyes.

We were assisting a charity with their fundraising event’s Live and Silent Auction.  While working with the Charity, they chose a signed Jersey which was pricey based upon the fact that the player who signed it was extremely expensive.  So that you and anyone reading this Blog understands, Athletes charge to sign their autographs when it comes to dealing with Memorabilia providers.  Some Athletes are relatively cheap and others are ridiculously expensive.   At the same time, we had conducted the signing, one of the photo’s slated to be autographed was missed.  Prior to the fundraising event, we found the photo and decided to just frame it and put it into the silent auction at a very low starting bid.

The Jersey was on the Live Auction with a starting bid of $410.00.  The Charity was going to make $80.00 with just a minimum bid.  However, the unsigned photo in a frame had a starting bid of only $135.00.  At the end of the night, the Jersey only received one (1) bid netting the charity the $80.00 – however, in contrast, the unsigned framed photo sold for $375.00 netting the charity well over $200.00!!!

That is when lightning struck me!!!  Over the next ten or so charity fundraising events, we began to test the theory that decorative items do much better in charity events then autographed items.  Time and time again, the decorative items brought high bids, benefiting the charities over and over again.  But did it make sense?  Why was this happening especially when the Charity Fundraising Market is all about autographed items…so the research ended with solid answers.

564844_383020088401670_100000810455789_916740_250179159_n - CopyThe answer lies in the “Price Point.”  Based solely on the fact that Athlete’s charge a premium for their signatures, then add in the cost of the item which is signed, the prices sky rocket.  Furthermore, legitimate autographed items are costly due to the above as well as payment to have them reviewed for 3rd party authentication.  As you know, there are many providers out there who offer autographed items which are too good to be true, which often they are.  However, with Decorative items, these problems don’t exist, keeping the prices very low and affordable for everyone.

Based on what we saw, we began to design highly decorative items such as collages with laser engraved signatures, 3D Laser cut logo’s with brass plaques and much more.  We researched the best photo’s with the most appeal, not worrying about getting them signed.  We slaved over designs, seeking replica tickets and the overall appeal of the entire item.  We began to research categories of these items which would have appeal outside of the Sports world since not everyone is a Sports Fan.  We began to design Celebrity Photo’s, Americana and historical as well as a full line of Sports related Decorative Memorabilia.

The response was and is phenominal!!!  The bids on these items are tremendous and the appeal is even more.  Now, Charity guests can bid on items which are much more appealing then autographed items, allowing everyone to get in on the action.  Plus, with the bids running extremely high, charities all across North America can quadruple the amount of money they can raise.

Beatles_TicketsNow we can provide fantastic decorative items such as the Beatles 1st American Tour which comes complete with a Getty Photo of the Beatles playing on the Ed Sullivan Show, laser engraved signatures, the tour schedule as well as replica tickets from all of their shows during the tour.  Routinely, without a doubt, it sells for $850 to $1,000 on Silent Auctions across North America.  This is just one example of 100’s of incredible choices.

Furthermore, our inventory of these items can be produced over and over again without the concern of dealing with Player appeal.  What I mean is….take for instance the Aaron Hernandez story.  One day he is playing for the New England Patriots and the next he’s playing for the local Federal Pen.  Players get hurt, contract negotiations etc.

You wouldn’t believe just how successful our Decorative items are for our Charity Clients!!!  And that is why BW Unlimited leads with our Decorative foot.  I know it doesn’t make sense, but test it out…you will be a believer in no time.

To see our incredible Decorative Catalog, contact us or ask your Charity Fundraising Representative to send it to you.

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Posted by on August 20, 2013 in Uncategorized


People are all the same…

ImageEvery day, I am reminded that people are same no matter where you go.  They may look different, dress differently and live differently…but inherently, they react exactly the same way when a similar situation arises.

Understanding what makes a successful charity fundraising event is the understanding of people.  However, the mistake is not thinking like your guests who are buying tickets or even the people who you approach to buy a ticket.  Charity Organizers often plan their fundraising events as the Charity and not as the people attending it.

Even today, I had the occasion to speak to one of clients who after being consulted still did what most of our clients do, which I will explain now.  Let’s use the example of Rita, who works with a local charity in Charityville USA.  Rita, who has been a valuable member of the charity, truly loves the work she does and knows the “In’s and Out’s” of her charity.  Rita, a kind and gentle soul, believes that her charity is simply the best, most heartwarming and giving charity on the face of planet – who wouldn’t want to support it?  However, she was finding it very hard to sell tickets to her Fundraising event.  Why?  She made a fantastic flyer with photos of some of the people which they have helped.  The name of the charity was clearly written at the top so everyone could see it was “ABC Charity” hosting it…but still, it was tough selling tickets.  Perhaps the ticket prices were too high, no – because she kept it priced so that everyone would enjoy a great meal for a more then reasonable price.  So what is the problem?

The reality of it is this – there are over 104 Million charities in the United States with only 50 states in the nation.  The competition is fierce between charities.  The plain and simple truth of the matter is, if Rita’s charity was so fantastic, she would not need to host a fundraising event at all – people would just simply give her the money she needed to continue.  However, that’s not the case at all.

Routinely, people are approached by many charity organizers constantly.  Plus other types of events are happening along with normal life.  Furthermore, there are very few charities that are completely different then the next.  Some charities have mission statements which do not involve everyone – and therein lays poor Rita’s problem.  Rita’s Charity only assists a certain sect of people and those who not involved in the charity itself have little to no appeal toward the fundraising event.

spend-money1So how does Rita rectify the problem with selling tickets?  It’s simple really but commonly missed.  When spending money, people spend with their wallets and NOT their hearts.  They have budgets, bills and responsibilities.  Plus if they are going to spend their hard earned dollars, they want to go to an event which is not like the others.  Perhaps it’s at a fantastic restaurant or concert and is something they do not do every day or even seldom.  If it’s a Fundraising event, what would draw them in…especially since it’s not the name or the mission of the charity?  This problem is rectified here:

IMG_0261#1 – Venue – The establishment which a charity event is being held could often detract from people attending.  But a great place will draw them.

If you are a fan of my Blogs, you have read my “Hints” about choosing an appropriate location.  If not, please go browse through them.

#2 – The Food – Remember, everyone could have home cooked food every day.  People will buy tickets to an event which offers food they do not commonly see, if it is reasonably price.  Ensure your meal plan is something different than what is found at home.

#3 – The items – This is without a doubt, the absolute most important aspect of all three.  Every single day, people attend fundraising events and see the same things on the Silent Auctions over and over again – Local donated items.  Here is the mistake – Local People attending a local event with items on the Silent Auction donated by local businesses.  If that stuff was so great, they would go and buy those items themselves!!!Beach scene

Having high profile items available to bid on is similar (if you think about it) like the meal plan right?  Items which are not commonly found in normal everyday life.  These types of items such as Autographed Sports Memorabilia, Music Memorabilia, Jewelry, Decorative items and Vacation Packages is what will draw them to you event time and time again without question.  Why is that?  Because of the competition – remember 104 Million Charities in the U.S. all of which host charity fundraisers?

Take a different approach, plan your Fundraising as if you knew nothing about the Charity.  What would attract you?  What would make you want to spend your hard earned money?  What would you like to see at the event – and plan from that approach.

Simply put, when attempting to sell tickets, it’s important for everyone to know it’s a charity event and who the charity is…but it is not the beginning and ending of a sold out crowd!!!  Put the event first…the food, the place and the “Stuff” and watch and see what happens to your tickets.  Sold Out!!!

The Great folks at BW Unlimited would love to help you and your charity meet or exceed your fundraising goals this year by assisting you with the above and other successful ways to “Blow away” everyone at your next fundraising event.  Contact us at

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Posted by on August 4, 2013 in Uncategorized