Custom Benefit Auctions
Col Benjamin B. Farrell
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The moment her performance ended, the crowd erupted into roaring applause, followed quickly by a standing ovation lasting several minutes. Clearly filled with complete joy, the talented young musician smiled big enough to warm the heart of every guest in the ballroom. She overcame major physical challenges and a severe permanent illness while learning to play music. Both the instrument she used and the instruction she received were funded by financial contributions solicited to make her wish of performing music come true. In that moment it was obvious to everyone that donations to this organization had made a huge impact on this young performer’s life.

The most compelling and motivating element of a fundraising event is the human story. Most likely, your nonprofit organization also has inspiring stories to share. Strive to connect your audience to your organization through stories during every stage of the event promotion.

Begin the process with your Save-the-Date card. Include a captioned photo, a testimonial, or a common request from those you serve. Make statistics more relatable by calling attention to each recipient as an individual. A local Boys and Girls club used this technique with the statement, “There are 45,000 at- risk youth in our community. You can help provide a safe place for every child to come to every day.”

Next, share your successes on the invitation to your event. How many individuals, animals, babies, women, patients, or families have you impacted this year? The American Red Cross always shares such statistics: how many families they have provided shelter for after fires, how many pints of blood they have collected, how many soldiers they have transported during family crises.

During your actual event, greet your guests as they arrive, thanking everyone personally for his or her attendance, support, and participation. In areas where guests may linger for a few minutes in line (such as Registration or at the beverage area) display large color poster boards on easels, each sharing the story of a need fulfilled. A cancer support organization I work with posted the profiles of all the families who received help as a direct result from the previous year’s auction. As guests waited they read these emotional stories and gained an awareness of how donated dollars are used. Guests constantly share with me how good they feel knowing their donation has made a significant impact on someone in need.

Recently I witnessed another terrific story connecting the audience to the cause. The organization was raising money to fund a vital piece of equipment in their new cardiac care center. During the pre- function social I greeted one particular guest, thanked her for attending, and mentioned that her participation would really help the lives of others. She replied, “Yes, it’s already saved mine.” The cardiologists had saved her life, she said, and she was attending the fundraiser to support the cause so others could receive the same life-saving treatment. Later, during the Fund-A-Need, the audience heard the technical details of this expensive equipment: how valuable the machine was, how vital it would be for patient outcomes, and just how sophisticated it was. While true, those facts did not elicit a giving response. In a decisive moment, the patient-turned-supporter shared her story of survival with a hushed room. By putting a face with the facts, the giving resumed enthusiastically, and the nonprofit reached their goal.

A benefit auction is your time to shine a spotlight on your greatest successes and your biggest needs, and thus increasing the bond between you and your donors.

Yours in Success,

Benjamin B, Farrell

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Custom Benefit Auctions is proud to announce the arrival of our Blog!  We will be posting on all topics related to Fundraising, Auctions, Galas, and more.  Stay tuned for upcoming articles!

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