Monthly Archives: January 2014

5 Tips for Donated Items

ImageWhile attending 100’s of Charity Events each year, there is a common theme at each – the donated items which are used on Silent and Live Auctions.  Charity Fundraising Event organizers are often confused on what to do and if they should utilize items which are not donated.  If you are a fan of my blogs, you can find others addressing the same topic – all answering why we are so essential for a Charity’s success.

Donated item procurement is always the main topic of every Charity when planning their event.  However, the common mistake that everyone makes when seeking donations is the thought behind the procurement.

Here are several helpful hints to influence the outcome and greatly influence the overall profit of the items donated:

1.  Know your guests – As you start to plan your event and the topic of seeking donations comes up, think of yourselves as guests and what you would like to bid on.  What excites you and then go after those items as your main focus.  Create of list of “Hot” items.  Also, if you still have your previous years bid sheets, see what items brought the highest bids as well as what items were unsuccessful.  Don’t repeat the same mistake.

Image2.  Local Donations – Remember, your charity event attracts people from the local area.  Then add in the fact that the donations come from local businesses.  Your guests are already familiar with the businesses and the products which they have for sale.  Since your guests are already familiar with items that they can find in the local area, the items will not be exciting whatsoever.  The items will have little appeal. 

3.  Why do businesses donate – When approaching local businesses for donations, understand why these businesses donate.  Furthermore, understand what level of donations they can provide to your charity.  However, this has multiple issues which you should understand:

    a.  North American Charities – Currently, there are 104 Million charities in the United States.  With only 50 states in the nation, there are millions in each state.  Each of these charities seek donations, each business owner is subjected to thousands of donation requests each year. 

    b.  “Out of Business” – In order to keep their doors open and the lights on, business owners can not possibly donate to everyone.  They must pick and chose who they donate to and WHAT they donate.  Commonly, businesses will donate items which are not selling in their retail or wholesale outlets.  Remember, these business owners have bills to pay like you.  They can only donate what they can afford to donate.  The business will donate items which are not selling, then you will take the item which is not selling and utilize it on your Silent or Live Auction while expecting maximum results.

    c. The Myth of the Tax Deduction for Donors – Each year, businesses are only allowed to claim a certain amount of Tax Deductions based on donations.  After that amount, everything is a loss.  With all the charities in the area requesting donations, the myth of the Tax Deduction is no longer an effective tool while asking for an item for your event.

    d.  Marketing – If a business owner is part of your charity or has a personal reason why they support your charity, they will donate simply to help.  However, with all of the businesses which are approached and asked to donate, the main reason why they donate is simply for “Marketing” or “Advertisement” to your guests.  However, understanding that this is the main reason why they will donate, ask yourself the following questions prior to asking or accepting it for effectiveness:

        (1)  Event Marketing – Are you providing a means for businesses to be advertised or marketed at your event?  Examples:  Event printed program, PowerPoint presentation, announcements, Charity Website Sponsors Page etc.

        (2)  Will the item receive a high bid?  If an item receives a low bid, how will this affect the business?  If the business owner knows his/her item received a low bid, will they donate again?  As an example:  If an item retails for $500 but sells for $50, was this an effective way for the business to market themselves?  No.

4.  Profit Margin – Recently, while assisting a charity, we reviewed the donated items they had collected.  While reviewing them, I took a poll of the highest they would bid on the items.  There were eight (8) items (all gift baskets) and totaled their highest bids – $355.00.  Each item had a maximum bid of $40 to $55 at the highest.  In order to use these items for their profit effectiveness, I placed these same items in a Raffle setting.  Remember if used on a silent auction, they would have brought the maximum of $355.00, however in the Raffle setting, those same items brought $2,100.00.  The donors were extremely happy because of the amount of money and exposure their items brought – answering all of the concerns.

5.  The “WOW” Factor – Using the topic addressed above (#4 – Profit Margin), the use of BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising “No Risk Auction Items” rectifies all of the concerns and this is how:

    a.  The “WOW” Factor – Using the first topic, “Local Donations with Local people” analogy, your guests will get excited by the items which BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising can assist you with.  The question is this simply – Will your guests get more excited over a Gift Basket or an Autographed Sports Item, Charity Travel Package, Jewelry?

    b.  Profit Margin – Using #4 as a guide, the top bid for a donated item is $50, however, our Charity Fundraising Experts will advise that our clients start the bid (or set the reserve) at 20% above our Cost to Non Profit – which equals the highest bid.  The 20% above reserve commonly equals $50 profit already built in at one bid.  Furthermore, this is only the starting bid, these items do not have a Top or Ceiling bid.  The bids on these items routinely award our charity clients $100’s of dollars in profit.

    c.  Ease – Instead of seeking donations for months only to profit little, it is much easier to use the items which we provide.

    d.  The “WOW” Factor II – While understanding that there are 104 Million charities in the United States and that most use the “Fully donated” item approach, how will utilizing high quality, exciting items affect the attraction to your event?  At charity event, people routinely take photos with the items or send photo’s to their friends.  These items get people excited and routinely bring incredibly high bids.  Your charity event will become highly attractive to everyone who attends and “Word of Mouth” will be your best advertising.


I hope the topics discussed above will help guide you in the future.   Everyone at BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising wants your next Charity Event to be highly profitable.  We would love to help you by guiding you through the thousands of wrong street signs and get you to your financial success destination.

For more information, go to our website at






Posted by on January 28, 2014 in Uncategorized