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The ULTIMATE Donation List

13 years 3 months ago #156805 by Ninalynd
Replied by Ninalynd on topic Re:The ULTIMATE Donation List
Took a while, but I finally did get a yes from Pearl Paradise. Yay!
13 years 3 months ago #156804 by sqd66
Replied by sqd66 on topic Re:The ULTIMATE Donation List
I e-mailed the authors and some not many replied to me. One and only one asked for a self addressed envelope pre-paid postage on it and then he mailed me a copy of his signed book. Otherwise all the authors sent signed books on their own. It probably gets expensive for the authors if the author is well known and get many requests.
13 years 3 months ago #156803 by STLMommy1
The national well-known authors sent signed posters; then we purchased the books that were on the posters to go with the posters at the auction.

I actually found a website for our state (Missouri) that showed me the websites of authors within MO that had written children's books; I then sent each of these authors a PDF of our auction donation letter and a nice email asking them to donate a signed book to our auction. I had HUGE success with this idea and had many authors donate books that are normally carried through Scholastics.

We got a local furniture store to donate a child's sized high back lounger and we are pairing this up with some books and calling it the Book Nook Lounge.

I would have never thought about asking authors had it not been for this website; totally an untapped area of donations! Next year I will do more research and actually go through my child's book case and find authors that I did not request from this year as well.
13 years 3 months ago #156794 by rm9116
StLMommy1 - thanks for posting your approach. It makes a tremendous amount of sense. For us, we are a small private school in a relatively small city, so our primary objective is to have as many people bid as possible on our item list. We plan to segment our auction items into 3 separate lists - small list of live auction items, small list of items that can only be bid upon using a secret bid box both prior to and at the event, and the majority of items that will be available to our church and school families for bidding up to 2 weeks prior to the event as well as at the auction. For this last set, the initial bid on the sheet on the auction night will be the highest bid we've received prior to the event. We have decided that we aren't going to worry about collecting all the money at the event for these pre-bids, since we will know all the families who place those bids and can find them at church or school following the event. (Helps to live in a small town for this piece!)

We've also decided to use Buy It Now for some of our items. As one of our members pointed out, it would have been a blessing to her husband to be able to pay whatever it took to get their child's class project, since there was no way she planned to get into the car without it.

In the past, we purchased a lot of our items as cheaply as possible, hoping to make a profit. This year, we've had much success (thanks to this board) with getting donations from places we never thought to contact before, so we hope to only ask parents to donate minimally for class baskets. Every dollar spent on buying an item to donate is a dollar not spent to purchase an auction item. Our auction is 4/30, so donations are still coming in and local donations are still being requested. Regardless, since it's my first year working on the event, I'm pleased with where we stand.

I will be doing a smaller auction with the middle school only in September, so I can't wait to see and use any additional hints that will be forthcoming by then. I will post any unique, national companies that donated after our auction. Good luck to all!

13 years 3 months ago #156791 by STLMommy1
With regard to getting people to attend the auctions, I can say this - my first year heading the auction and FUNraising Chair. Because of the success of our Innisbrook and note card sales this past fall/winter, I realized that parents are more than willing to spend the money WHEN they feel they are getting something in return at a good rate of return! And so my theory was to just get people in the door, have awesome donations (thanks to this board I have gotten above and beyond what I ever dreamed of) and the rest will hopefully take care of itself.

First, we changed the auction from formal to informal and are holding it at an upscale bowling martini bar this year; we will have bidding and a crazy bowl tournament as well after the auction tables close. We also chose a Saturday night in April vs. October and made sure we picked a weekend nothing major was going on in our city as well as the local professional baseball team being out of town. We made sure that 'no one' would have an excuse to attend something else b/c of a prior longstanding committment.

Because of our venue choice, we had limit our ticket sales to 150 because of venue capacity. In addition, last year, when the auction had to be cancelled b/c of very low numbers (we ended up having an internet auction and raffle that did okay $7000 considering), we heard that the price of $50 was too high for parents to be expected to pay when preschool tuition. I agree that when people are spending that much on tuition and in today's ecomony, very little is left over for entertainment. I was confident that lowering the ticket prices to $37.50 per person for a period of time would put us on a track to success - after 4 weeks of ticket sales, the remaining 3 weeks had a ticket increase to $50pp.

Also, I parred down the invite list from 400+ to the people who are going to normally attend the auction of a preschool which from the last 3 years has consistently been only the current families, the Board of Directors and friends of these sets of people/families. We live in a large metro city so people are hit up for auctions all the time, so instead of spending the money on sending out 400+ invites like normal to alum families, past donors, merchants and city big wigs, I decided to par down the list to the people who we knew were going to attend and concentrated on them.

I also researched the heck out of this site; got ideas from here and expanded my search. I have received TONS of stuff that I never could have without this site. In addition, I got some AWESOME book donations from authors of children's books who live in our state! Not well known authors but published authors who are with Scholastics typically - the books that we all buy from those book flyers! I got the donations that I believed would garner interest for potential RSVPs.

We also started plugging the donations that we had received during the cheap RSVP period. I think this helped b/c every Friday, we sent out an auction update. We also provide free babysitting (capped at a certain number) and pay our teachers to babysit the kids at the school while the parents attend the auction down the street; so basically we are including drinks, eats, bowling, bidding and babysitting into the ticket price of $37.50 pp - a STEAL!

To say the least, our theories have worked so far - we sold out the event in 3 weeks. In addition, because we lowered sponsorships to $250 adn $500 levels which with the sell out has now given us $1400 above projected ticket sales profit! So far so good!

Our auction is 4/9 and we are in the final stages of planning now!

I have always said that too high of ticket prices will prevent people from coming and it won't matter if you have the neatest donations in the world; if you don't have enough people to bid on things, it won't matter!

In addition, we received a donation from a time share company in Orlando; I am NOT pairing this up with our Disney tickets but selling them at different closing times b/c if someone doesn't need the other, you automatically cut that person out. I have realized to not back yourself into a corner by having an American Girl Chicago Weekend package - sell the doll by itself and have the Chicago weekend package be gender neutral or you cut out all the families with boys. You must keep everything neutral for the highest potential!

13 years 3 months ago #156789 by Felicia
Replied by Felicia on topic Re:The ULTIMATE Donation List
I have sent out more than 200 requests. The ideas on this board got me started and I just went from there with the ideas. I can't thank you all enough. I wanted you all to know that I got a rejection from Disney and I just emailed them right back and asked which of the 10 reasons caused me to be rejected and didn't expect to get a response but I actually did. They responded that they couldn't verify the address matched the 501c3 and to re-submit my application with a copy of our school letterhead. I just wanted to provide this info in case anyone else got rejections - it doesn't hurt to follow-up and ask (kindly) "why?".
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