Who Are Your Super Connectors?

The secret to attracting new donors to your fundraiser auction

One of the top questions I’m often asked is, “How can I attract the new donors to my fundraiser auction who will give generously?”

The answer: be highly strategic to include people in your next circle of influence in your audience development plans. Leveraging your stakeholders’ multiple spheres of influence is one of the most overlooked aspects of developing and engaging audiences at fundraising events and auctions.

This article includes an often overlooked target audience for fundraising events. I call this powerful group: Super Connectors!

When I was writing A Higher Bid I realized there was a special group to feature. These wonderful supporters are already deeply connected to organizations and understand the impact of your mission. I call them “Super Connectors.” Remember, people want to give to causes that they love. For super connectors, all you need to do is invite them in. They already love YOU!

For school auctions, there are numerous super connector groups. When working with an educational institution or a school, the alumni, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and new families are great sources to develop your benefit auction audience. How can you engage them? Well, do you have a special outreach plan for new families? One school created a special alumni appreciation raffle, and the winning ticket won a donated upscale dinner for two at a popular new restaurant.

For wine charity auctions, your vintners, wine growers, wine industry vendors, specialty sponsors, and the media are knowledgeable and supportive of the profession. Golf charity auctions can focus on golf lovers, golf specialty stores, golf pros, and the golf media. Art charity auctions bring an exciting array of supporters including artists, dealers, brokers, collectors, art supply vendors, museum professionals and curators, and art lovers in general. Think about the possibilities for other arts and culture groups and for animal rescue and humane societies.

Also consider your allied professionals. Personally invite other professionals with whom your organization shares a strategic alliance. Brainstorm those to whom you refer clients and those who refer clients to you. What about feeder schools or schools your students attend after graduation? Who engages your students and clients in work-study programs? Who hires the clients that you train, serve, or treat? Who attends the same professional conferences, hearings, and coalitions? Who is doing research, teaching, health care, or law in your area of your cause? I hope these questions and ideas stimulate your creativity and a new action plan for engaging new donors!

Super Connectors are already there. They understand and care about your cause. Just invite them in, personally. Push the boundaries of your audience development plan. It’s an easy win-win to raise more funds and to engage more donors!

If you have ideas about your Super Connectors – feel free to write me at kathy@kingstonauction.com

“It’s an honor to invite someone to
give to a cause that impassions THEM
so THEY can make a difference.”
~Kathy Kingston, CAI, BAS

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Fishin’ for High Profit Auction Items – Match the Hatch!

STRATEGIC AUCTION ITEM SOLICITATION IS LIKE FISHING. Sound strange? Consider this: There’s a huge difference between fly fishing and plain ol’ fishing. Think Alaska. Think Deadliest Catch. Fishermen toss big steel crates (pots) out in the ocean. Not only do they catch crabs, they also haul a lot of by-catch (unwanted sea creatures). The same thing happens with item solicitation. When you throw out a big net for item procurement, you’ll get heaps of extra low-performance items that no one wants.

Fly fishing experts have a saying, Match the hatch. This means match the lure to the specific insect upon which the fish you’re targeting likes to feed. For example, an experienced angler knows that bottom-hugging crawfish lures won’t entice trout if they are surface feeding on mayflies.

Be an auction item solicitation expert. A savvy auction chair knows better than to offer front-row Metropolitan Opera tickets at his or her high school ice hockey booster auction, because donated center-ice Stanley Cup seats, with dinner and a player meet-and-greet, is a real hat trick.

Steal this top lesson for item procurement. Know who attends your fundraiser and what they want, then match unique auction items with the wants of your audience. With this highly strategic approach to item solicitation, you won’t end up with auction by-catch and a room full of unwanted items that bore your guests to distraction.

Heres my favorite auction item fishing tip. Partner up. Start an Auction Item Exchange Program. Remember the example of the high school hockey booster auction and the Metropolitan Opera front row tickets? Get creative. What if that local high school and regional arts organization exchanged items? Voila! Even though ski trips in winter climates are easy auction items to procure, anyone who lives in that particular region can easily ski there. Trade cool ski vacation packages with sister organizations across the country. Think how well ski buffs will bid for deep powder on their dream slopes, like Vail or Jackson Hole. Imagine animal rescue groups from San Diego and Boston exchanging a trip to the Channel Islands for a trip to Nantucket. Find sister organizations in your field, whether it’s social services, schools, arts or animal rescue. Look for groups working with people who have similar disabilities; look for educational groups; look for regional or national organizations with similar missions. Think about who attends professional conferences in your field. If you are a regional or national organization – put out the word with your colleagues. It’s fun and rewarding. Be sure to exchange items that have approximately the same value. Put a written agreement in place with your sister organization to ensure that each group’s commitment is clearly understood.

AndHeres My Favorite Lure

After 31 years as a professional benefit auctioneer and fundraising strategist, the number one question I’m still asked about benefit auctions is, “How do you get auction items that sell the best?”

Remember, the most important thing to “sell” is the donor’s connection to you. It’s not about auction items. Today, guests and donors are very strategic about their giving and with their bidding. Not everyone wants a silent or live auction item. Not everyone wants to be involved in competitive bidding. Through the new lens of the Philanthropy Model of Fundraising Auctions, focus on the spirit of giving. When you remind your supporters that it’s not what they get that counts, it’s what they give to make a difference, your donors will be sold on you and your great cause!

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Giving Back is Good Business

Giving back can be a differentiator.

In today’s world, people care that you care about something. While boosting your business brand, your strategic charitable giving drives life changing impact for causes you love. Greater still, when you engage your family and employees as leaders in your giving strategy, you enhance life-long family learning and solidify employee loyalty. Plus, you’ll feel great too.

The Kingston Fund Gives Back

The Kingston FundTen years ago I created The Kingston Fund as a memorial tribute to my parents Winifred and William Kingston. When my nephew and seven nieces were ages 6-20 years old, I wanted to provide a unique opportunity for my nephew Arley and seven nieces, Megan, Alysha, Molly, Brianna, Erin, Lexi, and Lindsey, to give back and to learn how philanthropy works from the inside. All eight comprise our Board of Advisors who discuss the needs of various charities and allocate our annual grant funding to areas that are important to them: helping abused and sick kids, supporting hospice, and strengthening families in need. In addition to learning about philanthropy from the inside, we also focus on important life skills like decision making, financial literacy, leadership, negotiation and collaboration and the impact of giving back to causes we love. The Kingston Fund is a donor-advised fund of the Cape Cod Foundation. A huge thank you to Kristin O’Malley, CEO and her staff for supplying us with incredible knowledge of the community and who is needing funding for their impactful work.

During my two presentations at the Million Dollar Consulting Convention, I shared with entrepreneurs and business owners that regardless of your net worth, discover how easily you can establish and use your own donor-advised fund to benefit from this low maintenance, tremendously flexible charity vehicle.

Would it surprise you to know that THE top question from the audience of entrepreneurs and business owners was: “How can we find nonprofits to fund?”

And what about YOU?

Find New Loyal Donors

Are you looking for a new donors and innovative revenue sources for your organization? Look at donor advised funds from your local community foundation. If you are a nonprofit or school, get to know your Community Foundation for additional grant opportunities. The professional staff know their donors and are familiar with advisors and philanthropic wishes of those who have donor advised funds. Your community foundation can advise you on funding available for your specific causes.

For example, for our family fund, the terrific staff at Cape Cod Foundation is excellent in introducing us to new nonprofits and special projects in the areas that are near and dear to our hearts, such as helping abused and sick kids, supporting hospice, and strengthening families in need. Our board of advisors at The Kingston Fund love receiving personalized grant requests for special causes we fund.

Consider communicating with your Community Foundation to let their leadership know more about YOU and that you are seeking new donors at any level. You’ll be glad you did.
Consider Starting a Giving Back Program for your Business

Discover how you can easily establish and use your own Donor-Advised Fund to benefit from this low maintenance, tremendously flexible charitable giving vehicle. You can check with your local Community Foundation. Here is the link for the Council on Foundations Community Foundation locator: http://www.cof.org/community-foundation-locator

Inspire Others and Yourself

How can you give back to your community for something you deeply love? It’s really not that difficult. Select a cause that impassions you. Research the cause on the web, call them, and talk to staff and volunteers. Get involved in a way that’s meaningful for you. Best of all, you’ll feel really good, too.

(Hint: When you feel confident and positive, you’ll attract more positivity and greatness into your life too!)

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From the Top: What are the pros and cons of Consignment items?


Are consignment auction items right for you for your next fundraising auction? Kathy Kingston, benefit auction expert discusses the pros and cons of using consignment items to raise money at charity auctions.

Are you ready for more fresh ideas for more high-profit auction items?
Check out Chapter 6 of A Higher Bid: Procure Incredible Auction Items

Enjoy my video quick tip: (Hint, click on the arrow to watch)

What are the pros and cons of consignment items?

Raise more funds. Engage more donors. Break all records!

PS: Sign up for your complimentary Fundraising Auction Assessment Call with Kathy.  www.KathyCall.com

Kathy Kingston 603-926-1919 kathy@kingstonauction.com

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Make Your Show Flow at Your Benefit Auction

There’s a hidden contest happening inside your fundraiser event. The contestants are time, money, and the attention spans of your guests. We want money to win every time—but you must be strategic!

Make Every Minute a Revenue Minute

When you design a benefit auction event, one of the most commonly overlooked mistakes by auction and event planners is creating the wrong timeline. Instead, make every minute a revenue minute by strategically sequencing and pacing the silent auction, the live auction, and the fund-a-need special appeal. Benefit auctions have myriad event details, and getting this “show flow” right is critical to maximizing every single dollar and creating an environment that will build audience engagement for future events.

Say “Sold” During Salad

To optimize the most profitable time for fundraising, don’t wait! Conduct your fundraising early in your event.  A top trend is to conduct your Live Auction and Fund A Need special appeal right away during salad. Remember, less is more, and your guests are tending to leave earlier than ever. Position your fundraising activities as early as possible. Never conduct your Live Auction and Fund a Need at the end of your event.

Run Your Auction Like a Track Meet

My experience as a college athletic director and coach for volleyball and track for blind runners has helped me tremendously as a consultant and fundraising auctioneer. Think about organizing and running your benefit auction like a track meet. The first thing a track coach needs is a stopwatch, and you need one too! It’s very important to time out every single element of the event.

In a track competition, the next runner is “on deck” and the one behind her is “in the hole.” The same lineup works for benefit auctions. At the beginning of your event, the chairperson, board president, or executive director makes the welcome and thank you remarks. Immediately following those remarks, go right into the montage about the transformational aspects of your nonprofit organization. Set this up so that you have speakers “on deck” and “in the hole.” Put six or seven chairs on the side of the stage and insist that everyone who is making any kind of remarks is seated in chairs 10 minutes in advance of when they are speaking and line up in order of stage appearance.

Add a Stage Manager and Speaker Handlers

One of the best ways to maintain control of your strategically designed show flow is to engage a dedicated stage manager. In a track meet, that person is called the clerk of the course. She oversees the timeline, queues up the competitors, and ensures that everything happens on time.

At your event, have volunteers to bring speakers right to their tables and escort them to the stage before it’s time to make remarks. These people are beloved to your organization, and your guests want to visit with them. But that slows down your timeline. You may want to have one handler for each speaker to escort the speaker to the side of the stage, wait with him until it’s time to speak, and then escort the speaker from the stage back to his table following the remarks. It’s also a good idea to have backup people who stay with the speakers in the queue so that they don’t scoot away. Sometimes speakers request to stay at their tables until it’s their turns to speak. Unless there is a really compelling reason why they cannot sit with the rest of the speakers in the queue (for example, they experience a disability) it’s critical that all of the speakers are on the side of the stage ready to go. It helps the momentum and the physical flow of the event to have everyone who is making remarks lined up and ready to go with your stage manager right there.

Make your Show Flow! Focus on what matters. Design your benefit auction, gala, soiree and fundraising event to engage more donors and to maximize fundraising.

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