This will save you hours of time compared to finding all these fundraising auction item sources on your own. When requesting items for your charity auction, be prepared to provide your non-profit 501(c)(3) number. You should request item donations at least six weeks ahead of time, but some businesses want to hear from you at least 90 days before your event. Many companies also limit their donations in various ways, so it’s best to apply as early as possible. Links are to each company’s donation page. Remember that when requesting any kind of donation, you should always explain “what’s in it for them”. For the company, this would mean explaining the publicity & promotional opportunities their donation provides, the demographics of your event, estimated attendance, amounts raised in previous years, and how the funds that are raised this year will be used.
Many national companies prefer to use a single point of contact to help streamline their donation
request fulfillment process. Clearinghouses fulfill this function by helping match schools and
nonprofit organizations with businesses that want to help.
Most clearinghouses offer both a free service platform and a paid one. My suggestion is to try
the free platform and see if you like it.
If you do, then it’s well worth the extra fee to use the paid platform. Why? Because it provides
even more business donation matches for your group and therefore helps you raise a lot more
The best one – and the easiest to use – is called Donation Match.
Donation Match – Find hundreds of donated items for fundraising auctions, raffles, gift bags, or
giveaways with just a few clicks. Use their custom application to reach multiple companies and
brands who value your event audiences, all in one place. This is as easy peasy at it gets!
Bidding For Good – Primarily does online auctions for nonprofit groups, but also has donated
items from businesses that they can add to your auction. This is an easy way to raise money
online as long as you have enough active supporters willing to make enough bids online.
Good360 – This is a good source for surplus products from businesses. NOTE: These product
donations cannot be auctioned off to raise funds. These products also cannot be sold, traded or
bartered or be given as gifts to volunteers or sold in thrift shops. All product donations MUST be
given to the needy, ill, and youth that you serve in your community. Groups must also pay
administrative fees and shipping charges.
Signed music or sports memorabilia, including autographed footballs, baseball shirts or other equipment from your region’s favorite team, is guaranteed to attract top bidders, raising 370%-630% of their FMV. Also popular are tickets to local sporting events. You’ll always find a couple of fans willing to bid high to support their team, particularly star players.
Fine dining restaurants, such as steak houses or celebrity establishments appeared numerous times making 330%-460% of their FMV. Happily, restaurant certificates are generally easy to come by, as restaurant owners enjoy the promotion they receive by being included in a charity auction.
Following the dining theme above, luxury kitchenware like a high-end knife collection or the latest coffee maker, inspire those looking to find a practical deal for their home.
Fashion is always a good category to include in any auction. High-end items from designer favorites like Tory Burch, Diane von Furstenburg, Michael Kors or Ralph Lauren, do very well, especially during our Fall events as we move into the holiday season. Handbags, shopping certificates and accessories are among the most highly sought fashion items.
Travel; whether a pair of airline tickets or a weekend stay at a Disney resort always generates excitement, with our top item this year, a weekend in New York City selling for 460% of the item’s FMV. Guests are just as happy to bid on a domestic trip over an international one, as there is less paperwork and organization involved, so concentrate your volunteer’s search efforts at home.
Unique experience packages. VIP seating box access at a concert, an opportunity to drive your dream car, or a private tour of the Coca Cola factory, are some examples of experiences we’ve seen do really well this year. For something truly special reach out to well-connected board members or spend time brainstorming with your volunteer committee to see what unique relationships they may have. Be sure to promote these big impact items before the event (our online pre-bidding package makes this easy) and encourage your auction volunteers to point them out to guests.
General rule; anything that is unique, one of a kind, or limited will do very well at your event. Initially, a donation from a high-end fashion house or a weekend stay at a luxury hotel may seem impossible to achieve, but check back with our blog soon for advice on the best way to achieve these items for your next auction.