When it comes to charity auctions, having the right item in the right room with the right audience can make a huge difference in the amount of money raised for your cause. This is particularly true regarding memorabilia, especially if it is signed by someone famous. Below we will discuss some of the things you should consider before choosing which items to put up for bid.
Consider Your Geography
Although the memorabilia you choose should be from nationally-known celebrities, regionality can certainly affect what bidders are willing to pay. For instance, if you are in the Columbus, Ohio area, it’s probably best to stay away from items signed by University of Michigan alums. Similarly, a signed Derek Jeter baseball is probably not going to sell for a premium at an auction in Boston. Even national icons are susceptible. An item autographed by Bruce Springsteen will fetch a high price anywhere, but in his home state of New Jersey his memorabilia is even more desirable.
When looking at geography, you also might consider how available signed items are in the area. For instance, in LA and New York, there is greater access to celebrities, and, therefore, more autographs in the market. However, rural areas see fewer celebs, so there is likely a lesser supply, meaning the potential for higher bids.
Consider Your Audience
Take a good, hard look at the demographics of the event’s attendees. After doing so, plan your lots accordingly. If you have a room full of Baby Boomers, they aren’t going to pony up for a guitar signed by all the members of Pearl Jam. And even if you find items that transcend generational preferences, gender is still something to consider. Although many women enjoy sports, when was the last time you stepped into a female boss or co-worker’s office and saw a bunch of sports memorabilia on the wall? Men, on the other hand, like to display such items in their man-cave or office. However, don’t expect the same guy to plunk down some change on a signed Taylor Swift picture.
Although it’s impossible to have something that is of interest to everyone, the key here is to be realistic and try to keep offerings in proportion to your demographic.
Consider Your Charity
This one sounds obvious, but we’ve all been to charity auctions where the items up for bid seem very loosely associated to the charity. To keep the audience from looking around at each other and thinking, “What’s that have to do with this cause?” take some time to look around for items that would compliment your charity’s message. Look for associations by researching celebrities who support similar causes or have gone through related hardships. For example, we know that Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow are cancer survivors, so it would make perfect sense to have memorabilia related to them at an auction for a cancer-related charity. Similarly, Bono from U2 has long supported UNICEF, and he is a musician, so any charity associated with children or music would be a natural link to memorabilia associated with him. The key here is to make sure you aren’t inferring the celebrity is endorsing your organization; you are merely offering items that are related to their industry or causes they officially support.
Promote, Promote, Promote
Lastly, there is one related point we would be remiss not to include. All the time and energy spent on careful selection of items will be fruitless without heavy promotion of your auction. Be sure to use appropriate communication methods based on the tone of your event and the target audience. This could involve one or more of the following: emails, handwritten invitations, online newsletters, social media, newspapers, posters, and TV/radio spots.
Follow these tips, and we think you’ll be smiling when you hear the all-important word: sold! For additional tips on picking the perfect charity auction item, we suggest you also check out our friends at Autograph Store Charity Fundraising.
Shawn Kendrick holds an MBA from Ohio Dominican University and has over a decade’s experience in the nonprofit and business sectors. He enjoys researching and blogging for VolunteerHub, a cloud-based volunteer management system that offers online registration, email and text messaging, report generation, and much more.