Is Minimalism the Key to Charity Fundraising and auction item ideas to Watch for in 2019?

Wait what? Did I just say minimalism? Isn’t that just a fad?

Well, the fundraising world agrees, “new technology, increasingly outside-the-box events and changing donor demographics, what’s working today is very different than what worked best just a few years ago.”

There are a few key trends to be watching out for in event fundraising this coming year, and minimalism has a big role to play in all of them.

First, Downsize! Small silent auctions are more effective and migraine reducing.

Yup, you heard us!

Downsize the size of your silent auction.

According to a survey, “65% of respondents have observed the number of items included in the average silent auction declining.” 35% of respondents kept the same number of items in the average silent auction. Less than 5% added more items.

If you think about it, this trend makes sense!

Silent auctions are incredibly lucrative – it has the capacity to involve almost all of your guests during a simple social gathering.

Putting on the event, inviting donors, and getting them involved at said event can be quite simple and easy to handle. It is the number of items that can kill an organizations capacity.

Time and effort is important and finite within an organization. What’s more important, having a large selection of silent auction items or spending that time networking and connecting with your current donors, spreading the word about your event, and finding sponsors?

In this circumstance, less IS more.

Put your time and effort into the important aspects of the event and the other aspects of your organization!

Smaller charity fundraising auctions might allow your organization to do more events throughout the year, it might allow for more networking, etc.

The point is: smaller auctions free you up with the same bang for your buck.

This can be seen even down to the size of the venue that has to be secured.

Now, we’re not saying that you should be a minimalist to the extent that your venue space is the size of a two-door garage.

But minimalists have it right that the less amount of things (and size of things) on one’s plate makes one a little freer and definitely less stressed.

Additionally, if space is limited, trimming silent auctions gives your organization the ability to bundle auction items and find stronger standalone items. This maximizes space and brings about a definite increase in appeal and therefore, procurement.

Second, Rising interest in experience-based auction items

Social media is a strong driver of people’s motivations and the way they see and experience life.

Charity Auction Items - VIP Experiences & Vacation Packages -South African Safari

People want to show experiences on social media, not things.

It’s easy to come by things, these days anyways. There are 300,000 items in the average American home.

Accumulation of stuff is quite common, but Forbes Magazine compiled insightful information on why the largest generation – the millennials – are moving towards experience based opportunities..

Millennials in particular are seeking out this minimalist lifestyle. Millennials– the 18-34 demographic make up more than a quarter of the U.S. population and the majority of the workforce. Millennials have a unique set of values around how they choose to spend their money. They grew up during the recession, entered a struggling job market and must now pay off record amounts of student debt. Retail expert, Robin Lewis, of The Robin Report, explained the consequences of millennial factors, “This is a generation that is bigger than the boomers in population, but their wallets are smaller, and they are more into the style of life than the stuff of life. This is a big threat to retail. They’re not into a lot of shopping.”

Millennials are highly adept at using technology and social media influences many of their purchases. They prefer to spend on experiences rather than on stuff. Seventy-eight percent of millennials—compared to 59% of baby boomers—“would rather pay for an experience than material goods,” according to a survey from Harris Poll and Eventbrite cited on Bloomberg. They favor products marketed as ethical, sustainable and environmentally friendly. By 2017, Retail Leader expects millennials to spend more than $200 billion each year and about $10 trillion in their lifetimes.”

These changing donor demographics have different priorities. The value of VIP Experiences and Vacation Packages just increased.

Naturally, too, this means intergenerational travel is becoming more popular. Life seems to be getting faster and faster. And geographic distance seems to be getting more and spread out between family relations. People don’t stay as local as they used to. Even so, families want more time together with more experiences as gifts.Charity Auction Items - VIP Experiences & Vacation Packages -Lake Tahoe Ski

There is universal appeal for experience packages, bringing with it an inherent WOW-factor.

Finally, Be specific! Utilize “Direct Asks” and “Fund A Needs”

This naturally follows from the heavy emphasis on less “stuff” and more “experience”. Direct asks and fund-a-needs are incredibly effective at silent auction and charity fundraising events.

At the most recent National Auctioneers Association’s 2018 Benefit Auction Summit, nearly 100 auctioneers were surveyed. 96 of the auctioneers said that over 75% of their events include a direct ask or fund-a-need.

We love instant gratification. We want to be a part of the experience of solving a problem, not just a cog in the large wheel that brings a relief to a problem.

Engaged supporters are all in one room, excited to bid on a the hot big-ticket items (like a vacation package or a priceless autographed U2 guitar). But they are also excited because they are supporters! They want to help! And it’s gratifying to know, that night, what has been accomplished by the event!

Direct appeals are quantifiable, simple, and straightforward. Try it out at your next charity fundraising auction!



[1] https://blog.winspireme.com/5-event-fundraising-trends-of-2019

[2] https://blog.winspireme.com/5-event-fundraising-trends-of-2019

[3] http://articles.latimes.com/2014/mar/21/health/la-he-keeping-stuff-20140322

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahweinswig/2016/09/07/millennials-go-minimal-the-decluttering-lifestyle-trend-that-is-taking-over/#35ed264a3755

[5] https://auctioneers.org/