Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/4/2011 (3107 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s that time of year. Social season. And not just wedding social season. There are fundraising socials - and we’ll include the Bud, Spud and Steak in this - for all sorts of charity events and causes every weekend from now until the end of June. Assume everyone at your event has seen their share of silent auction items. That means it’s time to get creative. Here are some ideas, along with some general do’s and don’ts to help you out.
1) Word of advice, get someone young or least in the loop helping you out with prizes. Giving away a DVD player is not cool anymore and doesn’t generate any excitement. You may think an iPod will, until you find out it’s not the new iPod touch and nobody is interested in it.
2) To go with the above advice, electronics still work. Big time. It just has to be hot. Spend the cash and get an iPad 2 or a Blackberry Playbook. You’ll get that money back and more. That’s what people want. Even those that don’t really know what they’re for. It’s mob mentality.
3) Surprisingly, TV’s still work as well. Everyone at your event has a TV, but everyone at your event also wants more TV’s. Make sure it’s 3-D, flat screen, the works.
4) Get items that people talk about. I was at an event last weekend and one of the prizes was sheep manure. It got more bids than most items. People get caught up in the hype.
5) Give away a car. How many of you have a car sitting around that will never see the road again? If not you, then your parents. Or a friend. Everyone knows someone with a car sitting around doing nothing. Does someone really want your hunk of garbage car? Not really, but they’ll pay to win it because it’s funny.
6) If it’s your event, and you’re really passionate about raising money, be it for your own cause or for a charity, then be the prize. Offer to do yard work. You can rake some lawns if it means more money. If you have a special skill - cooking, knitting, you have a boat and can offer a fishing trip at your cottage... whatever. Everyone has something to offer. If there are 10 people helping you out at your event, boom, 10 different prizes.
7) Get a pinata. If AFV has taught us anything, it’s that pinatas are hilarious. Charge 5 bucks to take a swing at it. If your event is adults only, then fill it with adult things. Plus, you may get on AFV when someone does something stupid.
8) "Mystery prizes" are a crowd pleaser. People will gladly fork over some cash to win something they’ve yet to see. The prize can be a donkey (it’s happened), toilet paper (also true), a goat (again, true). Anything is possible.
9) Your social can also be your garage sale. If you are a young couple about to head down the road to marriage, guaranteed you both have items that aren’t going to be agreed upon. Maybe this is their moment. A pinball machine. Her 90210 collection. If you get desperate, just look around your house. There’s something there.
10) Focus more on women. They’re the decision makers. If people come as couples to your event, chances are better she’s deciding where the tickets or bids are going. Spa packages will always make more money than a cooler and a fishing rod.
11) With any "couples package", include free babysitting.
12) Hit up places that have never been approached before. Recently I was at a dinner, and there was a prize for a full ASL (American Sign Language) course. Seriously awesome. It did very, very well. A prize that helps you be a better, smarter person is a hit.
13) These are usually awkward, but if fundraising is the name of the game, it might be time to give away Botox. Or a some sort of cosmetic procedure. I’ve seen it raise some good dollars.
14) Don’t bother with the small stuff. Nobody, with all due respect, wants or needs a travel mug coupled with a golf shirt from a fertilizer company. If you think that’s all you can get, it’s not. That’s when it’s time to go with #6.
15) Give away cash. Early. Cash gets spent. If they’re at your event, that’s where their cash will go. If you’re doing a 50/50... give it away a bit early and let them enjoy their newfound riches, while passing some of it along to you.
16) Don’t sell too many different tickets. "This is for the _______ draw, and these are silent auction, and these are for the door prize, and this one...". It’s too confusing. We’re not here to be confused, nor is your event supposed to be confusing.
17) Much like the electronics are best when they’re hot, so are trending topics. If you sold tickets for free gas cards at a social this weekend, guaranteed it’d be a hit. Gas prices are a big deal these days, therefore you go with it.
18) Same as above... find some Jets stuff. It’s topical, and a huge seller. Anything will do.
19) Lessons work. Much like the ASL prize works. People are looking for something new. Dance lessons. Cooking lessons. Personal training. All big sellers.
20) Use your famous or interesting friends. If there is someone in your inner circle with a job cooler than most, get her or him to offer up their job for the day. A cop might not work, but you get the idea. Lunch with "insert name of famous person here" gets people interested as well.
21) Offer things people actually use and need. Everyone needs food, so meat from your friends farm is always good. A cord of wood cut and delivered. A bus pass.
22) Experiences go a long way. Ask yourself and your friends what comes to mind when you hear or say "I’ve always wanted to try that". Skydiving. Ziplining. Zumba. Yoga. It’s simple. Give people what they want.
23) Sell tickets to win "all the leftover food from the social". Awesome. I’d buy a few.
24) Recently, someone gave away a door as a door prize. Classic. Think like that and you’ll do just fine.
25) Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. If you do, make it count. A trip for two to Vegas can cost less than a TV, but it sounds way bigger.
26) Generous people often think of others when choosing which prize they want to win. Best example is kids. Parents love winning things at a social for their kids. Museum passes, video games, sports equipment. People often put family first and more likely to try and win something that benefits others. If you were thinking of one kids package, go with three.
27) Know your crowd. Who is coming to this thing? If they’re 18 - 40, seek out prizes accordingly. That’s where the iPad and the Playbook come into play.
28) Entire seasons on DVD. Pick one that isn’t on TV in repeats all the time. Perhaps not Alf, unless I’m at your social, but something a bit retro. Maybe Dawson’s Creek.
29) Offer up a spot in the wedding party. It has the word "party" in it, so make it one.