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  • Writer's pictureAlex Durant

How to Get Awesome Auction Donations

When we talk to our clients, we always hear that one of their best feelings in the world is landing a donation that they really had their heart set on. 

We’ve seen reams of dream packages, interesting excursions, beautiful art work and other stellar auction donations. Early on in our company’s lineage we started really paying attention to the success of these organizations and documenting our observations.


Don’t skimp on the details before the ask. Make sure that the information you provide about your event is clear. Having all the details in order before you approach the business or organization for a donation is a must for most successful procurement processes. We have a checklist for managing donation items once you have them as well as checklists for pulling together the silent or online auction.


The hallmark of all incredibly successful donation asks have started with specificity and a straightforward set of questions. This requires being prepared to know what you’re asking for and to be able to talk about the specifics of what you’re hoping to get. Sound pushy? The worst that can happen is they say no and the best case is that—if asked correctly—you have your dream package/donation for your next auction.  


If you have a standing relationship with a business, these might be some of the first people to tap for donations. Weekly massage? Ask your massage therapist about a package or service. Favorite local restaurant? Ask to speak to the manager or owner the next time you’re stopping by and ask about a donation of dinner for two. Have a favorite hotel you frequent for staycations? Ask about a two-night package (again, specificity). 

This does several things. It capitalizes on your relationships within your community while also keeping donation dollars local. Donors are more likely to pitch in if they have a longstanding relationship with you and if your event will bring them more business in the future. In many cases, we’ve also seen that consumers are sometimes more willing to spend their dollars locally when it comes to auction items and experiences. 


Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a great auction event. There should also be a saying about how one person can’t be the only one building, either. Tapping your board and your members to solicit donations will engage them directly in your event and will engage their networks. Leveraging the personal relationships they have with businesses and organizations will help your chances of having a full-stacked auction that’s memorable for its volume of high-quality donations. 

The trick to making this engagement successful? Give your team the tools to succeed. That might look different for every auction, but in the past we’ve seen it done cleverly. It might be an official letterhead that your board can use to send donation requests. It may be as simple as a template for them to use when writing their own donation solicitations; things like reminding them to be specific and prepared. Considering it a checklist of sorts could help them feel more confident in their request of their network.


Once you’ve created a perfect pitch and asked specifically for what you want, make sure to have a donation form available. This can help donors quickly fill in the details and commit to a donation. If you’re asking in person this could be a pre-printed form or a digital PDF page that the donor fills out and sends back to you. An even easier version is an online form that donors can submit electronically. This collects all donation details and some even allow users to upload images & logos. There are many options for this including Google Forms, Wufoo, JotForm, Airtable, etc. All submissions go directly to a master tracking document which saves a ton of time for data entry.

If you and your auction team/committee have a solid strategy for solicitation and the proper systems in place, you can proceed with confidence to secure awesome donations!

Durant Consulting, Inc., is proud to offer digital auction services along with event production services and sponsorship fulfillment. The company was founded in 2006 and has more than 20 years experience with high-profile events and auctions all over the country.

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