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  • Writer's pictureAlex Durant

Nervous to Ask for Auction Donations in this Economic Climate?

I've had a few conversations with non-profit clients this past week about event cancellations affecting their fundraising goals. I know there is a lot of talk about Virtual Fundraisers these days which covers the gamut from virtual cooking classes to comedy shows to full-blown online galas with a live auction component. Another hot commodity these days is an online auction. This stand-alone fundraiser is not tied to any other initiative and can run online for several days/weeks to keep your supporters engaged, all while bidding from home or on the go with their smart device.

One particular client, Charleston Stage, was lucky enough to host a successful online auction in March- just prior to the COVID shutdown. Their Fall gala has been postponed to the Spring which opens up a lengthy time period without a major fundraiser. We discussed the possibility of hosting another online auction but the main question she had was, "What companies will donate items and is it OK to be asking for donations at this time?" This is a common question I've been hearing and have had many chats with industry colleagues about whether it is ok to ask for donations.. especially from restaurants and the travel industry that are the most common auction items to be donated to a non-profit. There are a lot of differing opinions here!! Do we NOT ask since they've been hit so hard... or do they WANT to donate to help bring attention to their re-opening?

Suddenly, I had an idea... this is an organization with a lot of "assets". Not only do they produce fantastic shows which are performed at the historic Dock Street Theatre, but they also have one of the oldest and largest arts education programs for young people in the region, with classes at their newly opened West Ashley Theatre Center. My response- "Why don't you take advantage of your existing assets to create enticing auction packages? I know that kids classes are online which means the Theatre Center space is vacant. How about use of the space for 2 hours for 20 guests to host a dance party or dance lessons with your in-house choreographer?! What about reserving 2 front row seats at your next big production?! Back Stage Tour and/or Meet the Actors! Enrollment in a virtual Theatre Class!" Within minutes we had a list of items that could be part of an online auction to raise funds and more importantly, keep this organization relevant while their "Curtain is Closed".

No, I don't do solicitation for my clients, but I can help brainstorm to come up with auction packages that make sense for your organization. I figure I need to use my creative brain in some way so my Degree in Dance Education is not completely for not! :)

Durant Consulting Inc. will do everything else. Hand-over your donation list and I'll package the items, do creative copy for each lot and handle ALL online auction production with the software that makes the most sense for your organization. You can promote the online auction link through your email database, social channels and newsletters.

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