If you are a fan of mine or read my blogs, you repeatedly have heard me say repeatedly the same things over and over again. As with most things I say, the lessons I am trying to teach come from real “Honest to Goodness” mistakes I’ve made or have seen made over the vast amount of years I’ve been involved in fundraising.
I am always incredibly inquisitive about why charities have the beliefs they have and why they do what they do. What do I mean by “Do what they do”? Well, what I mean is simply this – charities believe that donated items will bring close to if not higher bids than what they are worth. Or, why they continually put items in a fundraising event which will not have the return they believe.
Ok – so the best examples are real life stories or real life examples right? Well, I hate to admit but over the weekend, I saw most of what I preach against happen at an event which we were a part of.
What most charities do not know is this – the larger, more profitable charities don’t even deal with small donated items. They know these items are not profitable and only go after Sponsors and large items which are always on their live auctions. They educate themselves because in the end, they are evaluated on their fundraising successes on a continuing basis.
So at this event we were a part of – prior to, we had begun to help their founder but our tactics seemed extremely counterintuitive. But because she believed in what we were saying, she allowed us to do what we are known to do. In her many donations, we found a basket which was better than most. Because of the quality of items and that we also believe that a smaller scale fundraising event should not be all of our items – we placed this basket in the Silent Auction. If I were to guess, the retail value would have been well over $200.00. But as you hear me say over and over and over again, donated items only bring 1/8th to 1/4 of retail in any Silent or Live Auction. Well, it brought only $65.00 – exactly what I say day in and day out. Proof positive.
Then, another issue which I address all the time is donated Vacation homes as well as locally donated items. I tell our clients continually how if someone can get a vacation home either given to them free or less, they will not bid on those items. Same with locally donated items, if you live closeby to a store which donated items in the fundraising event you are attending, you’re not going to bid to the retail value – you and everyone else is looking for deal 100% of the time. This is always correct at every single event we do.
So, after the event was over and we were packing up to leave, I overheard a friend of our client say to her “I wasn’t going to bid on that because I can use it for free” about a Vacation Home which was in the Live Auction.
I literally fell out of my seat yelling “Oh my God”….in fact, I said to my client “Remember that, we will talk about it tomorrow.”
Folks – people do not want donated items. If you are solely relying on donated items, you will see the inevitable result – that everyone is looking for a deal. People are NOT and will NOT bid on items anywhere near what they are worth despite the fact that they are attending a charity event. This NEVER EVER happens!!!
People bid with their wallets, not with their hearts. It’s sad, gotcha, but it’s the truth. Wake up to the reality of fundraising. Fundraising is a treacherous place to be. There are monsters under the bed if you go looking.
If you understand the reality of the reality, you will make the right decisions which will always prove to be profitable.
On another note, smaller charities believe that consigned items (like ours) pull money away from their donated ones. This cannot be farther from the truth, in fact, they pull money out of the crowd that would not have been spent otherwise. This is the same belief as previously stated above – that people pay full retail for donated items (Fantasy and Myth). In fact, the profit they make on our items at the starting bid far exceeds the highest bids on the donated items. I challenge anyone reading this to see how people will win items at very low levels for the donated items but will bid on our items which the starting bids are much much higher.
Your guests DO NOT walk into your charity fundraiser with blinders on and a pocket full of cash, throw the money up in the air and spend it blindly. This ideal or thought process can’t be further from the truth but for some reason, charities think this way. Your guests bid on items they want and will bid heavily on them. However, if the items have a known retail, they are looking for a deal and will not bid anywhere near the retail. However, on items such as ours or another provider, these items have no known retail causing your guests to make incredibly high bids over and over and over again.
This my friends is the “Reality of the Reality of donated items.” I am not saying do not go after donations and only use consigned items, I am saying if you are going after donations, to use them in a way that they have a certain high profit return.
If you would like help with understanding the reality of charity fundraising and how to use your donations in such a way that they have a very high return, contact us at www.BWUnlimited.com, we would love to help you.