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Kathy Kingston's BIDhi!
September 2008

In This Issue

Auction Success in This Economy



Question of
the Month

In the News

Who We Are

Boston Area
Oct. 7th - full day
Auction Best Practices

Oct. 8th - half day
Advanced Workshop

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Note from Kathy

Well, it's officially Auction Season! Last week I had the honor of raising over $100,000 for Plimoth Plantation - the premier living history museum of 17th Century American life of both Colonial and Wampanoag Indians and home of the Mayflower II.

Poppers the GoatYou might not know that Plimoth Plantation is also a leader in raising awareness of historic animal preservation. Don't worry, the goat was not up for auction. Poppers the Arapawa goat, Jonny Larason and Shelley Otis (4-legged and 2-legged interpreters) helped me raise those vital funds for the rare breed animals who live in the 1627 colonial village.

What a superb way to showcase their mission right at the auction!

Are you looking for new ideas to brand your mission and raise more "doe?" I'll show you how at my upcoming seminars in Brookline on October 7th and/or 8th. Seating is limited, so register immediately to increase auction excitement and profit!

Many of you have asked me how to navigate your auction in this economy. Read my next article and you'll discover how to chart your course.

Until then,
Kathy Kingston

Ignite Generosity!
Four Compass Points for Auction Success in any Economy!

"We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." This mariner's maxim reminds us to continually adapt in the face of unpredictable conditions.

In this challenging economy, NOW more than ever, it's vital to utilize proven best practices, new technology and fresh ideas to maximize fundraising auction efforts.

Here's the good news! Non-profit organizations are achieving auction success today by charting their course on things that they CAN control to reverse the trends that many benefit auctions are experiencing due to this tough economy.

These predictable yet controllable factors include: lower attendance; auction items not achieving full or over value; use of volunteer auctioneers; cautious spending by guests; inadequate planning, lower sponsor participation, reticent bidding and sluggish events that do not maximize each and every revenue stream.

How's it done? Luckily, most fundraising auctions have many, many areas that are not yet optimized for maximum results. In other words, by working smarter, you can keep your auction proceeds strong.

Learn how to navigate economic challenges and to raise more auction profit, please join me at my fall auction seminars! October 7 & 8 in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Set your course now in each of these four critical directions for success.

1. Focus on your Mission
The most important aspect of a fundraising auction is to make sure that all of your guests understand exactly where the money is going and how much their efforts in bidding will go to support your wonderful cause. "People do not give to needy organizations, they give to lofty causes that can make a difference," said Sharon Danosky, Fundraising Consultant, Danosky & Associates.

First and foremost: Brand your mission. With a captive audience for the entire evening ensure that everyone understands exactly how you benefit your clients and your community. Here is the key. Be explicit about your cause in every auction communication and promotion: mailings, newsletters, save the date card, invitation, communication, catalog and even auction forms. On auction night, place banners and photos that showcase your programs and services all around the auction venue and stage. Place informative table tents on the dinner tables and in between each silent auction item. Showcase HOW you are making a difference and HOW your supporters are part of the solution.

2. Deepen Relationships - Cultivate!
In addition to raising money, Benefit Auctions provide an extraordinary platform for Friend Raising too! Remember, people give to people for causes they care about.

So make it easy for your supporters to bid higher! Your non profit auction provides a momentous opportunity to deepen relationships with guests, sponsors, members, board of directors, trustees, prospective donors and yes, volunteers too! Here are a few cultivation ideas for your next auction. Several weeks prior to your auction, hold a pre-auction reception where you and your board can personally meet major donors, sponsors and prospective VIP guests and highlight your cause and preview key auction items. During silent auction, ask your board and auction committee members to personally greet five guests they do not know and welcome them to your auction. Empower your supporters with a personal connection; reach out to make sure they understand how their contribution will benefit your clients and your community.

Approach your benefit auction as a cultivation event and you will ensure that your auction will be a catalyst for future giving, such as annual appeal, major gifts and planned giving and capital campaigns. By deepening relationships with auction supporters, you invite investment and involvement far beyond auction night.

I'll personally coach you on how to embed cultivation techniques into your auction and how to Master the Ask" and much more at my interactive Seminars on October 7 and/or 8 in Brookline, Massachusetts.

3. ASK!
And do not stop asking; be unabashedly explicit about raising money and where you need the funds! In many cases the economy has had incredibly challenging effects on your clients. NOW is the time to communicate how much your donor's investment will positively impact your cause.

It's because of this tough economy that it's crucial to tell donors that you need their support now more than ever. Be specific and explain how your organization is making a difference and how the donor is part of the solution. Make sure every single donor in your database knows what you are doing and why their involvement is so critical to your continued success. As a very wise person once said: If you don't ask, the answer is always the same!"

4. Embrace Best Practices
This is no time for your auction to be an amateur event. By bringing in best benefit auction practices such as: focusing on audience development to increase the level of guests who have the means and influence to bid higher to support your cause; soliciting premium items that your guests really want; designing your auction with momentum and exciting timing; and using the latest in on-line auctions and benefit auction technology you stack the deck in your favor. Now, more than ever, a professional auctioneer who specializes in benefit auctions will maximize your fundraising efforts and create an entertaining, successful evening that takes the risk out of fundraising.

A presidential campaign not too many years ago used the phrase "It's the economy, stupid," to keep their staff focused on one issue that really
mattered to voters. However for benefit auctions, it's all about YOUR GREAT CAUSE!

So chart your course and deeply explore each of these four strategic directions. By branding your mission, deepening personal connections with your auction guests, explicitly asking for investment in your cause, and using auction best practices, you can have a record breaking fundraising auction in any economy.

Client Quote
"The proof is in the results. After working with Kathy, two of our groups NEARLY TRIPLED their fundraising revenue!"
—Celeste Wilson, Executive Director
Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston

Click here for more testimonials

Insights and Sometimes Rants

Don't Trip Over Pennies to Pick Up Thousand Dollar Bills!

No one knows better than you than non-profit does not mean NO profit. In benefit auctions, it's necessary to spend money to make money. So, run your auction like a small business, and invest in your success!

Play it out on paper first. Write out an event budget where you forecast detailed revenue and expense items meticulously.

Charge the right price for admission. You know, auction pricing is a big decision. Make sure to cover all expenses in your ticket price before you have any sponsors or in-kind donations! Determine your true cost-per-person and don't charge less. Tickets are a profit center, so add additional revenue into the cost of each auction reservation! This way all of your bills are covered before you open the doors. Don't rob profit from ticket revenue to cover expenses. Increase profit beyond tickets/reservation revenue with sponsors, underwriters, program book ad sales, PLUS OF COURSE Silent & Live Auction, Fund-a-Need proceeds!

Think BIG!

Question of the Month

What do I do with all the auction items once they are sold?
Dyanna Smith, Development Coordinator, New Hampshire Lakes Association

Great question, Dyanna! Here's how to design a smooth auction item pick up. Select from two methods: leave items on ORIGINAL TABLES or move items to a PICK UP AREA. The easier method is to leave the silent items on the original tables. Be sure to leave a COPY OF THE BID SHEET with winning bid number next to item so people know who won. Post SECURITY volunteers to verify paid receipt prior to item removal. For the PICK UP CORRAL: designate a separate large area for sold items. Pack up items and mark winning bid number on the outside of the box or bag. Bring to your pick up area. Re-organize sold items in “winning bid number order.” Bidders must pay, THEN claim items in pick up corral.

I want to answer YOUR question! Send me an email (with subject line QUESTION to kathy@kingstonauction.com) and ask your burning question now!

Auctioneer helps nonprofits survive during tough times
By Jeremiah Turner, Business Editor Foster's Daily Democrat (Maine)

"Kingston is no psychic, but after 22 years as a professional auctioneer she knows a thing or two about people, their money and the psychology of prompting them to open their wallets at auction. Luckily for society, she has used her skills to help nonprofits prompt the most money out of followers. This giving has helped fund causes as diverse as an orphanage in Ethiopia, to Laconia's Main Street." Read full article here

Who We Are
We are award-winning auctioneers, providing cutting-edge consulting and innovative training for both non-profits and auctioneers. A national leader in fundraising auctions, Kingston Auction Company has raised millions of dollars for non-profit organizations throughout New England and across the country for over 22 years. The company founder and president is Kathy Kingston, CAI, BAS. Come to us to make your next benefit fundraising auction a record-breaker.

Our affiliations include...

NAA Auctioneer
National Auctioneers Association promotes professionalism of auctioneers and auctions through education and technology.

CAI AuctioneerCertified Auctioneers Institute is the most prestigious designation awarded in the industry - only three percent of auctioneers nationwide hold the CAI designation.

BAS Benefit Auctioneer SpecialistBenefit Auctioneer Specialist designation provides auctioneers with unique skills and strategies to conduct, plan and market fundraising auctions.

Visit KingstonAuction.com or call 603-926-1919

Email: kathy@kingstonauction.com

© 2008 Kathy Kingston. All Rights Reserved.