Decorations can enhance the festive spirit, create ambiance and set the mood for a successful fundraising auction event. Keep these four tips in mind when planning your decor: 

1. Use what you have

Decorations are important, but that doesn’t mean you should spend a large portion of your budget on lavish décor. Take inventory of supplies you already have and recruit your crafty friends and colleagues to help you make use of them. Don’t be afraid to embellish or repurpose decorative pieces you’ve used in past events when appropriate. Second Hand or Dollar Stores can also be be a good resource. Pinterest is also a wonderful source for inexpensive event decoration and theme ideas

If you are in need of specialty decorations, such as flower or balloon arrangements, shop around for vendors who will give you the best price and always ask for donations or discounts. Check to see if your venue offers complimentary decorative items like linens. Donors will appreciate that you’re using money wisely!  

2. Set the mood with lights

Lighting is a great way to set the mood and create a certain ambiance. If you have a common color associated with your organization, use it to enhance the vibe or accentuate key places in the room, such as your silent auction ideas.

uplightingYou want your guests to feel comfortable and relaxed at the event, but you also want them to be able to see. Create well-lit spaces but avoid harsh light like fluorescents. Use a combination of different types of lighting such as uplighting, accent lighting and task lighting.

Uplighting: A source of light which is cast upwards to illuminate a ceiling cavity for aesthetic reasons. When combined with reflective ceiling materials, uplighting can function as a source of indirect lighting.
Accent Lighting: Directional lighting to emphasize a particular object or draw attention to a display item.
Task Lighting: Light is used to increase illuminance on a reading or viewing area, usually on a surface. In your case, this would be silent auction bid sheets.

Too-Much-Lighting3. Décor shouldn’t be distracting

When decorations are too over-the-top, they can become a distraction or even a nuisance. Too much lighting or an unusual piece of artwork might be a great conversation piece, but it could also cause guests to lose focus during your auction. You want your décor to enhance the event, not take over and become the main attraction. Keep the decorations simple and avoid things like tall centerpieces that can block your guests’ view from the speakers or professional auctioneer. 

under-the-sea4. Reflect your cause with décor

In some cases it may be appropriate to incorporate themes from your mission into your décor. For example, if your Nonprofit’s mission is to reduce ocean pollution, incorporate an “under the sea” theme to keep the cause in the donors’ minds.

What are some other practical and inexpensive tips you have for decorating an event venue? We would love to hear your thoughts!

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Winspire Communications Director

About Ian Lauth

With an extensive background in marketing and design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue.

Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content,  newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals. You can also find Ian on Google+.

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