Our Ultimate Donation List is very busy now, a good indicator that many auctions will be taking place in the next several weeks. What’s great about this message board thread is that folks not only post lists of donations they’ve received, but they also share tips. Here are some of the good ideas posted recently:

  • Donor list: Want to reach out to local companies to support your auction? Try the local Chamber of Commerce website as a starting point. You may find a ready-made list of local businesses to contact.



  • Hello? Does cold-calling (or visiting) a local business work? Sometimes. It is helpful, though, to send an email or letter to local businesses and then stop by or call to follow up on that initial contact.



  • List control: What do you do if several volunteers want to help contact donors? Some auction organizers worry (justifiably) that if too many helpers are involved, the group will soon lose control over who has been contacted and how often. Designate one person as the keeper of the list. Spreadsheets are great tool for this. Assign mini lists (subsets of the main list) to helpers and ask them to update the keeper by email. The list keeper then can send out regular updates of the master list.



  • Time management: When soliciting donations from local companies, set a time limit for each outing because it can be draining. Give it 45 minutes or one hour, visit as many businesses as you can, and then wrap it up. Follow up with thank-you notes or emails.



  • Recycling: Ever had leftover baskets? They don’t need to go to waste. One community member reports having two leftover baskets. She removed perishable items from them, reassembled them into one basket, and raffled it off at a school picnic held later in the year.



  • Repurpose: Receiving small silent auction donations from families? Get creative and see if you can assemble individual items into a basket. It may end up bringing in more cash. Plus, it is easier to display (takes up less space than multiple small items).