Creative Premium Auction Items for Your Next Fundraising Event

Following is a guest post from Anita Burr of

Most nonprofits struggle to meet their financial goals and place a great deal of time and effort at their annual fundraising events. Beyond getting the ‘right’ people to attend is the task of ferreting out new and creative premium auction items for live and silent auctions. Local businesses are often hit up on a daily basis by non-profits looking for donations, which often puts them in the uncomfortable position of saying ‘no’ more often than they would like.

Creative Premium Auction Items

I stumbled upon a novel approach one afternoon while walking my two dogs. On a wooded trail, I passed a theatre run by a local non-profit. I thought, what if the nonprofit would allow us to auction off the use of the space at our auction? The answer was yes.

What followed was a commitment by two popular musicians to perform pro-bono, a donation of beer and wine by our supporters, cupcakes donated by a local bakery (who happened to have won Cupcake Wars!), and a photographer who would take photos. The package of a private concert sold at our auction for $3,000. Cost, zero. The takeaway? Imagination can lead to some amazing auction items that will fetch a pretty penny at your next event.

Companies Offer Premium Auction Items

Next I created a database of companies statewide and regionally that committed to making a donation of goods and services to our event. I compiled a list of 350 companies, and we were stunned when $3,500 of donations rolled into our door, including: regional airline tickets, hotel stays, rounds of golf, theatre tickets and more. The database has grown into a national one that can now support not-for profit organizations like yours to meet its goals.

Securing donations from companies is a time consuming proposition, but our proprietary database is now available to registered 501.c. 3 organizations as one of the services we provide to agencies seeking to expand their live and silent auction donations.

Reaching out to companies beyond your local community coupled with tapping the imagination of your volunteers, supporters and staff to come up with new and creative ideas can boost your event’s net revenue significantly. Our own small domestic violence agency rang up $20,000 in new and creative auction items never offered at this year’s event, ensuring that we met not only our fundraising goals but enabled our organization to give necessary services to our community for the year to come.

Let us give your organization’s mission a fundraising boost and see how cost-effective this approach can be while adding some excitement at your next event.

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John Haydon