Monthly Archives: February 2015
Is it too much to ask? If you are a fan of our Facebook Fan Page, you often see us posting photos from the autograph signings we do with athletes all across North America. The photos are of the athletes actually signing the actual items we provide. We also show photos of the item we are providing with a photo of the athlete signing it, plus the autographs are then authenticated by a 3rd Party Authenticator – JSA or PSA/DNA.
What charities should know is the simple fact that in the autograph industry, these authenticators are the Standard. The only accepted means of authentication. All of the major memorabilia providers and even any legitimate companies will ensure that they have one of the two companies present during an autograph signing. When these authenticators are present, they apply a self-destructing (if anyone tried to remove it, it breaks apart) sticker or hologram on the autographed item with a number sequence. The number sequence will start with a “W” which means “Witnessed.” The sticker is actually the Certificate of Authenticity, the card is the supporting material which also has the same number sequence. You can then go on the authenticators website, enter the number sequence and it will show where it was signed and when.
However, if this is the autograph standard across North America for authentic autographs, why don’t all charity auction item providers conduct the same level of authentication?
No company, especially charity auction item providers, should “Self-Authenticate.” “Self-Authentication” means the same company selling or providing the item says it’s real. And another issue is a charity auction item provider suddenly, out of nowhere, using an unknown authenticator. Why would they do that? If that company was providing authentic autographed items, why wouldn’t they provide charity auction items that have been authenticated by the two companies described above? Hmmm suspicious huh?
I’m not trying to drop names but last year I was having lunch with none other then Gene Simmons. We met at a unnamed hotel in Philadelphia after a Kiss concert in New Jersey (check the dates of their previous tour and you will see when this happened). During lunch, I told Gene about the problems with charity auction item providers and pulled up a photo of a “Body signed Guitar” that was being provided. I showed it to him and asked if he signed it. He laughed and said “Nope.”
Charities, don’t be fooled by “Flashy” autographed items. Protect yourself only by asking the provider who the authenticator is. If they do not say JSA or PSA/DNA, ask them if they have items provided by them.
On another note, here are some facts about authentic autographed items:
#1 – We cannot show you our inventory on line and ask that everyone contact us and we will email them our current catalogs.
#2 – The reason we cannot show the autographed items we have is because the items we have are 100% authentic and we only have so many in our inventory. When they are gone, they are gone until we can conduct or be a part of another autograph signing (which most likely will be in 6 months). We cannot, CAN NOT, show inventory due to this issue.
NOTE: When a Charity Provider shows their inventory on line, especially on their website, isn’t that suspicious? Celebrity and Musician autographed items are extremely rare, rarer then rare. So, showing these types of items on their websites is not something we can do.
#3 – Celebrities and Musicians do not do “Sit Down” autograph signings like Athletes do. Rarely will you be able to convince a celebrity to do this. Recently, we did an autograph signing with Chevy Chase – but PSA/DNA was on site and witnessed it (with all the items coming complete with the Certificates of Authenticity).
#4 – Deceased Celebrities and Musicians – When an athlete passes away, the cost of the authentic autographed items goes up dramatically due to the rarity of the item. When a celebrity or musician passes away, the cost of their autographed items goes into space. Again, these items are already rare so when they pass away…their autographs are priced so high, that they are almost unaffordable. They become extremely rare. So how can anyone show items autographed by celebrities or musicians who have passed away years ago? Seem suspicious?
#5 – Cast or Band Signed anything – Very Rare due to the fact that these people are not always in the same place and also that they do not conduct “Sit Down” autograph signings. We have been involved in the autograph industry for years and are partnered with the largest autograph providers in North America and we have never heard about these opportunities. When companies conduct autograph signings, they put the word out to companies like ours, yet we have never heard of these signings. That is the reason why we don’t have them. Make sense? We only carry 100% authentic autographed items.
#6 – Body signed Guitars – When you see a Guitar that is signed on the body, it’s really cool. But, ask yourself this – just how many guitars did the person conducting the signing bring with him/her when the signing was conducted? I could only carry four (4) guitars, 2 in each hand. Then add in, that all the musicians are never together at once…and if they rarely tour, who would have access to them when they are all together? Then why wouldn’t the provider take photos of the musician signing them? Seem suspicious? It does to me. If we have autographed guitars, they are signed on the Pick Guard and then the pick guard (which was the only thing the musician saw) is authenticated by JSA or PSA/DNA.
#7 – Photo’s with Celebrities – If a Charity Auction Item provider has an incredible array of Celebrity Autographed items, why don’t they have photos of themselves with the celebrities or musicians? Come on, everybody likes to get their pictures taken with well-known people and celebrities. Or why do they show celebrities signing items outside of a show or restaurant signing different items then the ones they provide? Suspicious, I say so.
#8 – Other companies – Unfortunately, because we are here to help charities, I have to admit something. The items we have are also provided by many, many autograph providing companies. However, they are provided at far less cost and also provided at “No Risk” to our clients. Charity Auction item providers that are providing a wide array of Celebrity & Musician autographed items seem to be the only company in the world that has them. Why is that? Are they so fortunate that they have special access to the celebrities and musicians…or do you find that suspicious as well? I do.
Add all of the above up and ask yourself…is it suspicious? I give you a resounding “YES ABSOLUTELY.”
In summary, protect yourself. You can stick your head in the sand all you want but if you are not protected while also protecting your charities guests and supporters, aren’t you then a part of the crime? Don’t be fooled, be sure that the company you are using is providing you with 100% authentic items. Whether you are working with BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising or another company, absolutely positively ensure that the autographed items you are getting are 100% Authentic and are authenticated by a reputable 3rd Party.
One last thing – all you should do is run a simple “Google” search on either the name of the company or the name of the owner of the company – you will be surprised what you find.
If you would like to learn more about how to absolutely ensure that your charity is receiving authentic autographed memorabilia, contact the expert fundraisers at BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising today at www.BWUnlimited.com.
BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a North American Charity Fundraising Leader in a “One Stop Shop” convenient setting. BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising provides 100% authentic, 3rd party authenticated items from Athletes, Celebrities and Musicians which have been authenticated only by JSA or PSA/DNA – the two (2) most respected autograph authenticators in North America. BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is the charity auction item “One Stop Shop” providing Autographed Items, Charity Travel Packages, Jewelry and incredible Décor at absolutely “No Risk” to our charity clients across North America. If you would like to receive all of our current Charity Auction Item No Risk Charity Auction Item catalogs, contact us today at www.BWUnlimited.com
This is a question which we get asked 100’s of times and to be perfectly honest, the answer is very distinct. Understanding that we, BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising, is either a part of or helps over 1,400 charities each year, our experience level in regard to event timelines is vast. With over 40 years of combined Charity Fundraising experience, this is all we do – Fundraise for Charities. Unlike many fundraisers (employee & volunteer) who host an event once a year, we spend each either consulting, planning or assisting charities all across North America. Over the years we have been involved in fundraising, we have tried every single way there is over and over and over again determining what is the most successful way to set up, manage and eventually, close a Silent Auction.
The main issue that I want to convey to our charity clients is – Time Management is the absolute key to your ultimate success. Time can be good to you or bad, it’s totally up to you. Use a an event time line along with an overall plan, your guests will appreciate and definitely noticed your professionalism. As part of our Event Services assistance, here is what we have learned:
Lesson #1 – A Silent Auction must be diverse in the items that are present there. However, it cannot appear “Junky” with items that have little to no value.
Lesson #2 – Silent Auction items must be intermingled with high quality items in order to support higher bidding on the lesser items.
Lesson #3 – Sectioning off the Silent Auction (i.e. Sports items in one section, jewelry in a section, trips in a section etc.) hurts the bidding of individual items in those sections. All items should be intermingled in order to force your guests to review every single item there instead of splitting the crowd (ie. Sports fans go here, jewelry lovers go there, those interested in travel go there etc.)
Lesson #4 – When the event opens, the Silent Auction should be open.
Lesson #5 – The starting bids should not be high even if the items are of “No Risk” to your charity, here is the rule of thumb:
- Donated Items – the starting bid should be high enough to be worth it, but low enough to get the bidding started (BW Items should be started at 20% above the cost to non profit, Donated items should be 1/4 of the retail value.)
- High Starting Bids – if the starting bids are too high, the first time someone reviews the Silent Auction, the high starting bids will scare them away and they will not return to bid later. Plus they will tell other guests the same. Start the bids low to inspire bidding and start a bidding war.
Lesson #6 – When should the Silent Auction close?
- The answer to this “Age Old” question is based on many years of experience and investigation. Whether a charity follows our direction is up to them, however, here is the answer:
- Whether a Silent Auction runs for 2 hours or 4 hours, the items are only going to receive the same amount of bids, despite the time it’s opened.
- When people first arrive at your charity fundraising event, they do not go to the Silent Auction. When they do, they browse and rarely place a bid. They check out what’s, identify what they like and then sit back down.
- A smart bidder will “Stalk” the items they like and wait to see if anyone bid. Uneducated bidders will immediately place bids.
- A smart bidder will then ask the organizers when the Silent Auction is closing. When that time draws near, they will begin to “Snipe” the items, watching if there are any bids and placing higher competitive bids. They will stand near the item or items waiting for the Silent Auction to close and for other bidders.
Lesson #7 – How to inspire high bids on the Silent Auction:
- When the allotted Silent Auction closing time draws near, around 20 to 15 minutes prior, someone should start announcing “The Silent Auction is closing in 15 minutes”…that is the ALARM CLOCK. At this point, you will see many of your guests going to the Silent Auction to begin the bidding process.
- At 10 minutes, 5 minutes and 1 minute, announcements should be made alerting your crowd that it is closing.
- When the time comes to close it, announce it’s closed.
Lesson #8 – When to close the Silent Auction:
Ask yourself this, was your last Check Out process a “Mess”? Do you think your guests noticed it? Don’t you think that tells them something about the professionalism of your staff and ultimately your charity?
- Whether you leave the Silent Auction running for 2 hours or 4, the items there are not going to get any more bids. The bidding starts in the first hour then ends abruptly a few minutes prior or exactly when the Silent Auction is closing.
- We will commonly close the Silent Auction 15 to 20 minutes prior to the Live Auction for three (3) reasons:
- It allows for our Clerk to tabulate the winning bids in preparation for the Bids in the Live Auction.
It forces full attention by your guests to be placed toward the next phase of the Fundraising Event which is normally one of the financially successful fundraising platforms, the Live Auction and if there is a Donation Plea commonly referred to as the “Fund a Need.”
- It does not place any undo pressure on the clerk or anyone involved in the check out process, providing enough time to tabulate the Silent Auction, the Live Auction and the Direct Plea. With the bulk of the work already being completed with the Silent Auction.
NOTE: Commonly, after the Live Auction, guests will begin to go to check out. However, if you follow the advice provided herein, you will experience a fluid, stress free Check Out process at the end of your event. Remember, allowing your guests to leave your event with a “Bad Taste” in their mouths due to a poorly ran out check out process, will ensure much less success with tickets sales the following year. Remember, you still have Raffles & Game prizes to give away…it’s about time to complete everything so that your guests aren’t inconvenienced.
- How to close the Silent Auction:
- Most important about this topic is that people are still bidding or watching the items they bid on. Commonly, active bidders are standing there near their items waiting for the bid sheet to be picked up to ensure their victory.
- Prior to your event, one (1) person should be tasked with closing the Silent Auction and one (1) person (commonly the Master of Ceremonies or the Auctioneer) should make the announcements.
- When the time is announced that the Silent Auction is closed, that appointed person should be noticed by the announcer and pointed out (Ask them to waive their hands so that everyone can see her/him).
- The “Closer” should be standing at Silent Auction Bid sheet #1 then begin to walk down the Silent Auction picking up the bid sheets.
- If there are 2 or more people actively bidding, the “Closer” should allow them to “Bid it out” in their bidding war. Once the last place is bid, the “Closer” should confirm it with both bidders then pick up the bid sheet and continue through the remaining bid sheets.
NOTE: Since announcements are made (5 total at – 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 minute, Closed), everyone in the room was informed of the Silent Auction closing. They also see your guests going to it to bid. If, you do not allow everyone to place their last bids, you may have to deal with angry bidders – we commonly hear “I didn’t know it was closing, I wasn’t able to bid.”) Rushing over to the Silent Auction and quickly removing the bid sheets will stop people in their tracks, especially if they have been waiting for the last few minutes to bid. Inspire a bidding war, because in the end, you are hosting a Charity Fundraising event and high bids are vitally important to you.
By following the steps above, you will see a marked change in the success of your Silent Auction. Give everyone a chance to get engaged into your Silent Auction. Create excitement around it and you will be highly successful at the end. Or not follow the steps above and continue to see the same result.
If you would like to learn more about how to plan, set up, manage and especially how to have a highly successful Silent Auction, contact BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising today at http://www.BWUnlimited.com.
BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a North American Charity Fundraising Leader in a “One Stop Shop” convenient setting. With over 40 years of combined expert fundraising experience, the expert fundraisers study highly successful fundraising trends across North America on a day to day basis. This allows BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising the unique ability to provide expert advice to charities on the way and means to greatly enhance their fundraising goals. If you would like to learn more about BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising or how to host a Highly Successful, Highly Profitable charity fundraising event, contact BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising today at http://www.BWUnlimited.com.