In recent years, businesses have moved from underwriting events to expecting measurable value in return for donation dollars. Contributions are expected to buy visibility and placement. In my early days of auctioning, a sizeable donation bought sponsors a banner on the wall, an advertisement in the catalog, seating for 10 and a few accolades through out the evening. As creative marketing strategies on the internet grew advertising dollars were lured away from traditional media. Event sponsors began to look for new ways to find and connect with new customers. In the early 90’s I began to develop new ways for sponsors to position their brand at charity auctions. One of my first sponsorship packages included placing the sponsors’ brand on the pens use to write in bids in the silent auction. Next, we placed ads and brands on the back of bid cards. Soon we sold the profit centers to advertisers for brand placement. Today, brand placement through charity auction sponsoring and advertising is nearly as commonplace as any other advertising medium and in my opinion longer lasting with results that are easier to track.
Charities have what every business wants - access to new customers. Businesses have what every nonprofit organization is seeking - support in dollars, in-kind donations and volunteer time and talent. Both for-profit businesses and not-for-profit organizations are in a position to share their respective wealth by establishing an alliance with each other.
A charity auction is a touchy feely emotional experiential event - the perfect placement for almost any one or any thing. I’ve identified 25 branding opportunities that are available before, during and after the auction in print, on the web and in cross promotion. Every square foot of the venue offers space for marketing and promotion. A charity auction unites the donor’s message with the message of the recipient increasing the bottom line profits for both.
Traditional media has been in a constant state of panic for over a decade. Television is fragmented, radio formats change like underwear, and print is expensive and immeasurable. A charity auction is filled with content that can be recorded in video and audio format and blogged and vlogged about endlessly by anyone that attends and donates. The content a auction creates can last for years, swirling through time and space and in the hearts and minds of many. No other advertising medium offers as much.
• A non-profit organization has the ability to tap a receptive audience year ‘round, meaning a donor’s message can be delivered before, during and after the auction allowing for repeated contact with a potential new customer.
• A charity auction is a highly anticipated event that builds momentum and interest over time, peaking in a controlled space that attracts media attention.
• The event allows for businesses to connect their brands with the organizations’ meaningful message delivered through the efforts and talents of volunteers (free labor) and industry professionals (paid labor).
• Record profits are collected through the efforts of many with the reward felt by all.