Dessert Auctions & Other Fun Fundraising Tactics

balloonA few years ago, I didn’t know much about fundraising galas and events. I was familiar with the online auction component and how it can play into what happens “in the room,” but that was really the extent of it.

As a member of the Premium Mobile Event travel team, I’ve had the pleasure to attend and work at a variety of events and parties that our clients have held over the past couple of years. And boy, have I learned a lot about not only about what goes into planning, but also what actually happens at these events.

Auction Committees put a lot of effort into running an event that raises a lot of money, and they also work really hard to plan a memorable and fun party! One of the ways they do that is by planning out a full schedule of activities, performances, speeches, and more during the event.  Of course there’s a delicate balance to maintain so that you’re not bombarding your guests, or worse, boring them.  Most of the events I’ve seen have been very social, so it’s important to maintain that element.  Equally important is to find ways to both engage your guests and reinforce the reason why they’re there: to celebrate and recognize your organization and its work.

Besides the usual silent and live auctions and raffles, I’ve seen and participated in, a lot of other cool, creative ways to fundraise during an event. The most memorable was a dessert auction.

Yes, a dessert auction!

Here’s how it works: first you need desserts.  At the event that I attended the desserts were donated by local bakeries, restaurants, and businesses.  They were all on display at the front of the room.  After the guests finished dinner, the auctioneer got on stage to get things started! The idea is that the person or table who bids the most get their first choice at picking a dessert on the table.  At this event, the auctioneer started the bidding at $1000 and the table that bid the most got to pick their dessert.  Then the auctioneer started again at $900, and that next group got the next choice.  This continued until all of the desserts were sold.  Everyone wins – the guests get amazing desserts and the organization makes more money for their cause!

Since I have a major sweet tooth, I found the dessert auction pretty awesome.  However, there are lots of other great games and activities I’ve seen at other events that brought in some extra dough:

Balloon Pops: Each balloon has a ticket with a number inside them.  Each ticket number represents a prize at or above a specific value.  I’ve seen a variety of prizes ranging from jewelery to make-up to gift cards and more! Guests play by paying a fixed price (in most cases either $25 or $50) and they choose which balloon to pop. They win the prize that’s in the balloon.  If you’re not a fan of loud pops, then this might not be for you.  But it’s a lot of fun!

Wine Pulls: This is a great idea if you get a lot of wine donations!  Put all of the wine bottles in individual bags so your guests can’t see what type of wine or what brand it is.  For a fixed price, they can choose a bottle at random. Each bottle should be worth at least the price of the chance for a wine pull.  So, if you’re charging $25 for a wine pull, the bottles should be worth at least $25 or more.

Heads or Tails (and its relative True or False): Guests pay for a chance to take part in this game. The cost is usually around $10-$15 per person and each participant gets a sign with “Heads” on one side and “Tails” on the other (or “True” and “False” respectively). Then at a specific time during the event, the emcee or auctioneer comes to the stage.  With heads or tails, they have a coin.  Each participant has to choose heads or tails and hold up their sign with their choice.  The emcee flips the coin.  If “Heads” comes up, then everyone who chose “Tails” must take a seat and vice versa.  The game continues until only one  person is left. The winner gets a prize!

In the True or False variety, the emcee asks trivia questions about the organization and the participants must choose true or false and hold up their sign.  The game continues the same was as the Heads or Tails version.

These are only a few games that I’ve seen at events. They’re so much fun and, very importantly, can be a great source of revenue. To complement this, we’ve added this great feature to our platform called Quick Sale, which allows you to capture all of the transactions that take place at your event. I like to think of Quick Sale as a cash register at your event. You can quickly and securely enter in all of the sales made at your event in one complete transaction.

What other fun activities and games do you have planned for your next event? Not sure where to start? Download our Auction Chair Checklist.

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