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Three Ways To Add $10,000 At Your Next Fundraising Event

Whether you have a small or large fundraiser, anything adding $10,000 to the bottom-line results is worth consideration. Below we will discuss three easy ways to add an incremental $10,000 or more to your fundraising results.

Golden Ticket Raffle

$10000 to your next fundraiser

If your local laws allow, adding a raffle to your event is an easy way to bring additional revenue to your event without disrupting other revenue streams. The exclusivity of a golden ticket raffle is what makes it special, with a limited number of tickets being sold, which implies to the ticket holders that they have a decent chance of winning!

The allure of a Golden Ticket raffle is the ability to distinguish it as a special offering and adds intrigue to your fundraising. Owning a chance to win a significant prize, even for a short duration, is a positive feeling for everyone who purchases a ticket.

We often see clients who create or procure a prize that has mass appeal, which drives more interest. You can even extend your fundraising outside the room of the event if you like, selling tickets in advance, days or weeks before the event! For those who can not attend their event, it is a chance to still participate and feel special!

Ideally, you have a prize that is worth 20x or more of the ticket price. If your ticket is sold at $100, selling 100 tickets would generate $10,000. Of course, if there is a procurement cost for the prize, you may want to increase the number of tickets sold. For example, it your item has a procurement cost of $2,000, then selling 120 tickets would still net $10,000 in revenue. 

If you have an exciting item with mass appeal that is donated, this is a great place to use that donation. If not, you can look at procured options here: 

If you decide to sell tickets exclusively to those in attendance, have a few volunteers responsible for selling the tickets to guests during cocktails. If you still have some left over, you can use time on stage to make a final call for people who have yet to purchase a ticket. In just a few minutes, you will sell out, and then the BIG reveal of the Golden Ticket Winner is just around the corner!

Vacation Station

This is an easy option to bring to any fundraising event. All you need for success is to have an event that includes an audience, even if they are virtual. Hosting a trivia night? Try offering a Vacation Station!

Here is how it works. You select 10 travel and experience destinations, either donated or procured, that are available on some platform for mobile bidding access. (NOTE: you can offer this at in-person events without a platform as well).

The idea is to create a Buy-it-Now offer, with a set price for each item. The goal is to sell each package to net $1,000 per item sold. For most procured consignment items, you can sell multiples, so that enables a more likely scenario of selling 10 or more packages. Sell 10, and you have just netter $10,000!

Vacation Station implies that your donors who give to your cause also have a budget for travel and experiences. They want to give but may have never considered buying their next vacation through your organization and at the same time helping your cause even further. Think about it, if a donor is already planning to go on vacation in the next 12-24 months, why not offer them exciting destinations to consider in your Vacation Station?

You will want to provide a variety of packages that appeal to different interests. Some like to travel locally, some like to travel abroad. Some want a beach vacation, some want a family vacation, others want a couples only vacation. Some will have interest in sporting events, concerts, or special events. Your Vacation Station should offer a broad variety of options so you can appeal to the largest percentage of your attendees.

You can find ideas for Vacation Station at this site:  Pick one or two options from each category. Here is an example of a typical Vacation Station. Simply mark each of these up by $1,000 from the procurement cost, and you will have a successful Vacation Station:

1. Tennessee Jack Daniels Tour:
2. Lake Tahoe: 
3. Theme Park Experience: 
4. Broadway in NY:
5. Williamsburg, VA: 
6. Ultimate Sports Package:
7. Mexico All-Inclusive for 2: 
8. Sweet Songs Jungle Lodge in Belize:
9. Tuscany for 4 adults:
10. Tuscan Villa for 8-10 people: 

You have now created a broad appeal Vacation Station, and with a markup of $1,000, you have made the value very high for potential bidders. No competitive bidding, just a “Buy-It-Now.” Even better, if you have more than one interested bidder, you can sell multiples of each package. 

Please note that you may sell 5-10 of a certain package while not selling any of other packages. That is perfectly fine, as with consignment, you do not have to pay for any package offerings that are not sold!

The nice thing about this approach is that it is a more passive offering, and there is no pressure to engage. However, you may not be aware of those who attend your event or support your cause that just may be in the planning phase for their next vacation. If you don’t offer something for them to consider, it is simply a “missed opportunity.”

Last note on the Vacation Station concept. If you have donated items that fit the bill, USE THEM! They still need to have mass appeal, good availability, and value, but it is definitely a lot easier to make $1,000 on a donated package!

The Oprah Moment

$10000 to your next fundraiser

Another way to generate an additional $10,000 at your fundraising event is to select an item that has the potential to be sold multiple times. In this case, it is rare that you will have the ability to sell unlimited donated packages that offer mass appeal. However, many procured items offer you the opportunity to sell as many as you want, which creates exponential revenues without adding time to your fundraising program.

Here is how it works. You start with your live auction lineup, and near the end of the live auction, you will select a package that is affordable for all and has great value and mass appeal. This is an example that has proven successful at hundreds of events:

To use this Mexico trip as an example, the retail value of this package is $4,500, yet your cost would be $1,095, which allows ample room for your organization to sell this item at a healthy margin. Most clients will sell this item at $2,500, stopping specifically at that price point during the auction, and asking everyone if they want to go to Mexico for $2,500. 

The potential bidders will be impulsively surprised that they can get a trip valued at $4,500 for only $2,500. As you may seen on the Oprah show, your auctioneer can then proclaim everyone is going to Mexico! (at least those who raise their bid paddles!). We have found most audiences will lean into this special offer, and you will find that 5, 10, 20, even 30 or more might want to purchase this package at this price point. We have seen a few events where 60 of these packages were sold in 3 minutes!

Since your organization gets to keep the difference, each Mexico trip sold for $2,500 will net your organization $1,400. Sell 10 packages, and you just netted an additional $14,000. Now you can see how easy it is to add $10,000 in revenue to your fundraising efforts, without adding time to your program.

You will also have increment happy donors who got a great deal on a rip. Instead of just a few live auction winners, you now have a larger portion of your audience who has tapped into their travel budgets, supported your cause, and are elated they are going on a trip to Mexico!

There are many packages you can use for this “Oprah Moment” besides Mexico, so look for packages with mass appeal and great value so that your entire audience can engage.


Every dollar matters for your organization. What you have read about here is a way to tap into your donors’ second bucket of giving, their travel budget! Many are unaware that this is an additional way to support your cause. For some, they have not planned to use their giving budget at your event, which is unfortunate. But they may instead use their travel budget in a meaningful way to help you meet your fundraising goals. 

That is a WIN-WIN!

The Secret Formula for a Successful Fundraising Event

You have a fundraising event and are in charge of making it happen. Your team has decided on a fundraising goal, and you have weeks to build a fundraising program to make it happen. Yikes!

Of course, if you have a mature event that you have hosted previously, you have a fairly good feel for the potential to achieve your fundraising goal based on the event’s history. There is more uncertainty about where funds will come from for newer fundraising events. In both scenarios, it helps to have a fundraising plan of action that helps you project where the funds will come from to achieve your goals. Rather than hope and expect an outcome, planning will give you a leg up on your fundraising and reduce the stress and anxiety over your event!

At Mission First Fundraising, we have provided a tool to build your fundraising plan for the event. You can input all of your fundraising elements into this tool and create a fundraising plan of action toward achieving your goal. Here is how to use this site effectively, with some tips for using the tool to its fullest capacity.

Sign up!

First things first, as you enter the site, you will see 100+ travel and experience packages that can be used to augment your fundraising. Many of you are looking for exciting trips for your live auction, using consignment items, or need a trip as a raffle item and even in the silent auction. The list of packages on this site is called a “best of” list of auction items, which means they have been vetted for you based on the best value, customer service, and return on investment. The packages on this website have shown an average of 200% ROI across over 1,000 fundraising events, which is an acceptable return on investment and worthy of consideration.

That said, you can use this tool without using any consignment items. It is up to you to decide how to achieve your fundraising goal, and if needed, consignments can help you get there! The sign-up process is simple: adding your name, email address, name of charity, and name of event, along with a few other data points. If you have a professional auctioneer for your event, you can add them to the signup, allowing them to collaborate with you directly on the site later.

Once you have signed up, you can return as often as you like to review previous planning and modeling and continue to tweak as you progress toward your fundraising goals.

Select at Least One Consignment Item

To use the fundraising plan of the auction, you must choose at least one consignment item for now. You can later decide whether or not you want to use consignment, but this allows you entry into the platform to utilize its full potential.

You will notice at the bottom right a button to click called “View your Event Portfolio.” This is where you will see your full fundraising plan of action and will spend time building out your projections modeling to your fundraising goal.

We will discuss the typical fundraising program elements later in this post. For now, peruse the travel packages to see if some might fit your fundraising elements. Remember the donated items you already have, but seek to create a fully rounded live auction by selecting items from any of the 14 categories. You can use these selections as placeholders in your fundraising plan of action and then be more intentional in asking donors who might be able to fulfill these categories with their donations instead of consignment. For more information on designing a live auction, check out our blog post on the 7 Basic Rules of a Successful Live Auction. A typical live auction will be anywhere from 3-10 live auction items (schools typically have more) with variety to offer your bidders domestic travel, international travel, beach destinations, sports, golf packages, special events, etc. In a perfect world, you will have 6-8 auction items, with no more than 2-3 consignment items.

As you select items from the site, you will select where to put them in your fundraising program. There are several options, including live auction, silent auction, raffles, and others. The live auction is the most obvious placement for consignment because you can sell multiples to competitive bidders when you have achieved the appropriate ROI.

Vacation Station

Another successful strategy for using consignment is to add a Vacation Station to your silent auction. A Vacation Station is a great way to augment your fundraising results by offering 6-10 travel options not included in the live auction. You may struggle with deciding which trip to put in the live auction. In this case, add those not making the live auction list to your Vacation Station. Please note it is typical that items on your silent auctions do not perform as well as in live auctions in terms of ROI, so it is recommended to put your Vacation Station items in a “buy it now” mode. Set your “buy it now” price at 50% above the cost of the item, so if an item costs $1,000, you can set your “buy it now” price at $1,500. Some of you will use higher or lower “buy it now” price points based on attendees, but this is a good benchmark to start from.

Once you have selected which part of the fundraising program the trips should be added, hit “Add to your Event Portfolio.” It is as simple as that!

View Your Event Portfolio

At any time, you can go directly to your Event Portfolio, which will present your fundraising elements, including a paddle raise section. Since no items are involved in a paddle raise, this section will be filled out separately, which we will discuss later in this post.

It is important to note that you can skip any of these sections, bypass creating your fundraising plan, and simply hit the reserve button at the bottom. The fundraising plan of action tool is there for your convenience and to assist you with modeling your results for the event. As you model this, you can download the projections based on your input and share them with your team or board so they know where the funds will come from. This tool empowers you to provide information for decision-making, helps validate your plan of action, and will help you achieve your goals.

You will see the consignment items you selected in each category (Live, Raffles, Silent), and it will display your cost, an estimated sell price (Strike Price), and your net proceeds. Please note that these sell price and net proceeds estimates are purposely conservative, as some of you will have access to a professional auctioneer who can achieve higher results than an amateur. We expect you to perform above these estimates with the right professionals supporting you!

Notice the “Add Manual” below each section. This is where you can add any and all of your donated items to the fundraising plan of action. You will enter your preferred name for the item (we recommend you include the word DONATED), then manually enter if there is any cost associated with the donated item, what you think it might sell for at your event, and if there is the opportunity to sell more than one. If you feel confident these items will sell more than once, proceed to enter a projected quantity that will be sold. This same option is there for the consignment items, so if a particular trip you feel will have mass appeal, you can enter a higher quantity for modeling purposes. If you have a professional auctioneer at your disposal, they can guide you on how many will sell based on your audience’s demographics. Of course, your event’s past results can also be a predictor, so use this tool as a collaboration tool to model and build your fundraising plan.

The “Add Manual” button is available for each section of this tool. For “Revenue Enhancers,” you can add other raffles that may not be prize-related, such as heads and tails, a 50/50 raffle, or a wine pull. The idea here is to enter any of your fundraising elements into this tool to model results. For example, if you believe 100 donors will participate in the wine pull for $50 each, then enter that projection into the tool.

Ticket Sales
Fundraising tickets

You can also use the Revenue Enhancers section to model other aspects of your fundraising plan. For example, select “Add Manual” and enter the term “Ticket Sales,” then enter the number of tickets you expect to sell to attend your event and the ticket price. For different tiers of ticket sales, you can enter additional manual items into the tool.

Fundraising tickets

You can also add sponsorships in the “Revenue Enhancers” section. Simply select “Add Manual” and enter the term “Gold Sponsor,” then enter how many Gold Sponsors you expect to achieve and how much the sponsorship amount will be. You can add each sponsorship level in this manner to see all fundraising elements in this fundraising plan of action!

Paddle Raise

Whether you call it Fund-a-Need, Fund-a-Cause, Scholarship Auction, Mission Moment, or some other version, the Paddle Raise is typically the biggest fundraising element the night of your event. You will enter the number of guests expected to attend and your overall fundraising goal. Notice at the top of this section, you can also input pre-committed or matching funds, which should be factored into your goal achievement. Once you have input these figures, then you will add your paddle raise levels from highest to lowest levels. The tool will calculate how many people typically give at each level. You have the option to manually update the quantity of givers at each level based on history or other known donor demographics. This allows you to model paddle raise scenarios based on your fundraising goal and the ability to achieve that goal.

Summary of Fundraising

After all of these fundraising elements have been added and modeled, you will see at the bottom if you are close to reaching your goal. You will likely model this plan several times to get to the goal you had planned for. You will want to save your edits each time before you exit the site, but when you return, these saved edits will be there for you to continue modeling.
You will likely want to discuss this plan of action with everyone who is an active participant in the fundraising plan, which includes your board, your staff, your auctioneer, and maybe even key supporters who have a vested interest in the success of your event. This tool provides you with a security blanket for how you will be able to achieve your fundraising goal. If the goal is realistic compared to your potential fundraising elements, then you are going to have a successful night! If not, you may need to go back to the drawing board and find additional ways to enhance your fundraising plan of action.

Reserve any Consignments

A couple of weeks before your event, you will want to finalize the use of any consignment items and “Reserve” these for your event. This provides price protection and availability of each consignment item for your event. By reserving the items, you will also receive collateral to use for promotion of the item on social media, at your event, and winner notification collateral. You will also receive access to additional photos and videos as you get your audience excited about your live auction, etc.

After Your Event

This tool continues to support you after your event is over. You will want to return to this site to update your actual results. The tool can also be used as a debrief document you can share with your board and team and save for next year’s gala lead to use as a reference. We have added an open section at the bottom for you to input specific feedback on your event, such as any potential challenges the night of (e.g., sound, lighting, slow catering), as well as successes of the night (e.g., on-time run-of-show, stronger than expected raffle sales). This summary is helpful for you to express your observations about the event for further analysis.

As you update the quantity of items sold for both consignment and donated items, the tool will open a row below to enter winner information. This information is optional for donated items in case you want everything in one place, but necessary for consignment items so that we can contact all of your winners with further details on their trip and what to do next. The sooner you enter this information, the sooner your winners can be contacted about what they won.

Final Thoughts

This tool will help you from the time you start planning your event to the post-event steps to take care of all of your winners. You will increase your confidence in your fundraising plan of action and allow for input from others to ensure the fundraising plan of action will meet your goals. You will also have a record of results and observations that can be reviewed for your next event lead, taking key learnings and continuing to build on them for continued success. This tool is optional of course, but we think you will love having a tool like this to model your fundraising plan of action for any and all future events!

We wish you the best of luck with your upcoming fundraising events!

The 7 Basic Rules of a Live Auction for Fundraising

Most non-profits and schools have fundraising events to help augment their operational budget to support their mission. Fundraising often includes either a silent auction or a live auction, or both.

The hardest part of having an auction is securing quality items that people will bid on. Well-meaning supporters will often donate items and experiences to help raise money for your cause, yet you will often find some of these donations to be “less than auction-worthy” and less likely to generate excitement and interest for potential bidders.

For silent auctions, we often see volunteers spend an inordinate amount of time collecting and organizing donated items and, in some cases, spending extra money to add more flair to the item. Baskets are often created to bundle smaller and similar items, often wrapped in cellophane, ready to display on long tables for viewing and bidding. A LOT of work goes into building a silent auction.

On the flip side, Live auction items are typically larger items, including vacations and experiences that are either local or abroad. Donations for the live auction are the most challenging to evaluate for worthiness, so here are a few rules to help guide you in designing the perfect live auction.

Live Auction for Fundraising

Rule #1 – Mass Appeal:

Mass appeal is the most important rule for your live auction. You have hundreds of attendees who are typically seated with their attention on the stage. If your live auction item has mass appeal, most of your guests will be interested and engage in the experience of selling the item. If not, those who are uninterested will disengage and start talking moving around, and become a distraction to those who ARE interested in the live auction item. This will lower your fundraising potential for your event.

Sometimes, a donor will submit to you a very generous donation worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. One example of a donor who generously donated a furnace for the home, with a retail value of $6,000. This is a very generous donation, however, not a mass appeal to your audience… many people are considering the purchase of a furnace the night of your fundraising event?

Items without mass appeal can negatively impact fundraising momentum. A difficult item to sell can impact the results for the rest of your auction. Little or no bidding creates awkwardness for your audience. Remember, even if you have one very interested bidder, you need someone equally interested in the item to create competitive bidding!

When faced with items that are not mass appeal, you will want to consider another way to use them for fundraising. This could be as a silent auction item or a raffle prize.

Rule #2 – Hard-to-Find, Hard-to-Get

Items with uniqueness are very appealing to your attendees, who will be pleasantly surprised when you offer something they cannot get easily on their own. Tickets to a concert or sporting event, or a special travel destination that includes special experiences will create interest amongst potential bidders.

Conversely, a mass-appeal item that is easy to obtain on your own is likely not going to perform well in your live auction. For example, if you have a Big Screen TV donated, you can certainly presume there is mass appeal. However, since there are unlimited channels to purchase a TV, you will likely see your audience revert to “bargain-shopping” as they compare the bidding level to what they can purchase a similar TV on their Costco app on their phone!

Curating items that bidders can not find easily brings more intrigue and higher bidding to your live auction. These items also create more buzz about your event. These items can also become the WOW factor for your event!

Rule #3 – Flexibility

You will sometimes receive a generous donation from a well-meaning supporter who has restrictions on the use of the donation. Those restrictions can inhibit bidding and interest. For example, if the donation includes a specific date range for use, bidders in the room who are already busy during that date range will disengage and not be bidding on the item.

Flexibility comes in many flavors. Ideally, a donated item should be offered with very few restrictions for the buyer. A donation of a timeshare condo in Naples, Florida, for the week of August 5th-12th sounds wonderful, but how many people like to head to Florida in the month of August?

If the experience has blackout dates or a short time to use, this will inhibit bidding and interest by your audience. Ideally, you can ask your donating supporter to expand the flexibility for the use of the item to improve results. If not, maybe the item should be used elsewhere, such as a silent auction item or as a raffle item.

There are many companies like Mission First Fundraising that offer packages with robust flexibility in terms of when you want to travel, where you want to travel, and how you want to travel. These packages perform better than similar packages with restrictions, up to 250% higher ROI in a live auction.

Rule #4 – Balance

A live auction should have something for everyone. Most of you will typically have 6-10 items in your live auction, which will take 20-30 minutes to describe and sell to your audience. How do you keep everyone in the room’s attention during those 30 minutes?

The answer is to provide a variety of categories of items that will cater to different people in the audience. For example, having all golf foursomes donated by various supporters will not capture the attention of those who are not golfers in the room.

Balance comes in many ways. First, you want balance in terms of the categories of items, such as travel, sporting events, activities, experiences, memorabilia, etc.

Second, you want to have items that cover different categories such as local interest, domestic interest, and international interest, which can simply be a beach vacation down south, somewhere sunny!

Third, you want to provide items that are in line with the budget for all levels of income. Most of your items will be packages everyone can afford, while other live auction items can be higher-end items for your higher net-worth attendees.

Fourth, you will want to include balance in terms of providing packages that vary in the number of travelers or attendees who can participate. Some people prefer to travel alone with their spouse or significant other, while others like to travel with their family or with a larger group of couples. For example, having a live auction item for a Pig Roast for 40 ppl can be very appealing to some, while a trip for 2 to Tuscany can be more suitable to others.

You can find different categories of live auction items on our package list at for more ideas. Choose 5-6 categories that you prefer for your audience. For each category, see if you can secure a suitable donated item from a donor first, then use this site to fill in the gaps to create a well-balanced live auction lineup.

TIP: Start by building the dream lineup. Use the site above to generate ideas. Once you have the dream lineup in mind, then work to replace it with acceptable donated items. Use your dream lineup to make specific asks from your board or key supporters who have donated in the past. (eg. “Do you have access to concert tickets for this show?”)

Rule #5 – The “WOW” Factor

This is a bonus rule to really ignite your live auction, but finding that one item that will create buzz at your event can become your signature moment for fundraising. The WOW factor item will create interest for everyone in the room, even if they can’t afford it or who do not expect to be the winning bidder.

An example of a WOW factor item could be a special concert with a meet and greet or some special destination or restaurant that is impossible to get reservations for. These items get your audience buzzing, sometimes for weeks and months after your event. It is one of those signature moments that can energize the entire room, which accelerates fundraising.

Rule #6 – Sequencing of items

The sequence of your items will also impact your fundraising success. Start your live auction with a universally mass-appeal item that everyone can afford. Follow this with a sequence of different categories. For example, if you have decided on 8 items for your live auction, imagine you will have 2 local experiences, 2 sports-related items, 2 domestic trips, and two international destinations. Rather than random placement of these items, alternate the sequence of these items, such as this example live auction lineup:

Local – weekend getaway for 2
Sports – tickets to a game, suite for 12
Domesticweekend getaway to the lake
Internationaltrip for 2 to Tuscany (can sell unlimited)
SportsGolf Stay-and-Play package
DomesticWine and Train experience in Napa Valley
InternationalAll-inclusive beach destination for 2
Local – in-home private chef dinner for 8 people (can sell two)

You also may want to look at the value of each item and design your sequence to build momentum toward those items that are of higher value to be sold near the end. A bell curve approach is typically recommended. In the scenario above, items 6 & 7 would be your higher-value items in the live auction. Items 1 & 8 are likely the most affordable items, which can also have the most mass appeal.

Rule #7 – Selling more than one

A great live auction will have one or two items that you are allowed to sell more than one of. As you will often see in competitive bidding, there is often a disappointed bidder who lost out on the bidding yet will be pleasantly surprised that there is the potential that they can buy a 2nd trip or experience. This should always be a surprise to the audience, but your auctioneer should have these in their back pocket and can offer at just the right time.

Selling multiples can become a momentum builder itself. In some cases, unlimited multiples can be a way to dramatically extend your fundraising, as multiple bidders can purchase the item at a great value. A trained auctioneer can help you set up these scenarios for maximum effectiveness.

We like to call this the “Oprah Moment.” Instead of raising a couple thousand dollars for an item that you have one of, selling multiples could result in raising $50,000 or more in the same amount of time, depending on your audience size. Be sure to evaluate a potential “Oprah Moment” for your event.


Applying these rules to your development of the live auction will ensure you can maximize the success of your fundraising. Use these rules to socialize with your committees as you decide which items should be in your live auction.

Put every item through a lens that protects your fundraising. Not every item has to meet every rule above. But as you collect items for your live auction, this is a way to grade and evaluate from a larger pool of potential items and then cull your list to the very best items for your live auction.

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