Benefit auctions can be effective fundraisers, but in her book “A Higher Bid” Kathy Kingston emphasizes the importance of seeing a benefit auction not as a one-time chance to make money but as something that can build lasting relationships between organizations and donors, as well as bringing in a lot of money in a short time.
Kingston calls these strategic benefit auctions, a method to raise more money and more deeply engage donors. For that, Kingston recommends five core principles, or pillars, of strategic benefit auctions. They are:
- Find out what matters most to the organization’s supporters. Design an event around the core idea: People don’t give to needy organizations. They give to lofty causes that make a difference.
- Invite supporters in. Special events are an extremely good way of identifying and recruiting new donors.
- Inspire supporters to fall in love with the organization. Communicate the impact of supporters’ gifts at benefit auctions.
- Give them reasons to stay in love with the organization forever. Leverage the benefit auction to build long-term relationships and engage those wonderful supporters on a year-round basis, before, during and after the benefit auction event.
- Invest in what counts; ignore the rest. Spend valuable time and resources on what raises money and retains donors: the fund-a-need appeal, sponsorships and donor engagement and cultivation.