Event Fundraising Trends of 2019 eBookHave you noticed the world of event fundraising is changing every day? Thanks to 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.

It’s important to stay abreast of cutting-edge ideas and best practices. This keeps your event as fresh, relevant and, most importantly, lucrative as possible.

Read on to learn 3 of the 5 biggest trends in event fundraising today, plus practical strategies to maximize revenue from live and silent auction events in 2019. If you like what you see, click below to download the full PDF to print and share with your team.


1. Smaller silent auctions

Silent auctions are a great way to turn cocktail hour into extra revenue, plus encourage participation from virtually all your guests.

That said, they can take a huge amount of time to organize—often more time than any other portion of the program! And organizing a fundraising event is all about best use of time.

How are silent auctions changing in 2019? Here were some of the most compelling findings from a fall 2018 survey of nearly 100 benefit auctioneers at an annual meeting of the National Auctioneers Association.

  • Silent auctions are still popular. 82% of benefit auctioneers reported at least 3 out of 4 events they worked included a silent auction.Events That Have Silent Auctions
  • Silent auctions are appearing less frequently. Half of auctioneers acknowledged silent auctions are appearing in fewer events than years past.Silent Auction Statements
  • Silent auctions are offering fewer items. Finally, 65% of respondents have observed the number of items included in the average silent auction declining.Silent Auction Items

It’s important to compare revenue generated from the silent auction to the opportunity cost of all the time spent putting it together.

Could your time be better spent:

  • Networking with business owners and local leaders?
  • Spreading the word about your event?
  • Finding sponsorships to cover costs?
  • Putting together bigger packages for the live auction?

Another factor to consider is space. If space is limited, trimming the silent auction allows you to be more aggressive about bundling auction items and maximize space.

Discuss the scope of the silent auction with your committee, every single year, before jumping headfirst into procurement.

Auction Organizer Testimonial

“Our event cut the number of items we offered in the silent auction in half three years ago, thanks to advice from Winspire—and raised almost the same amount of money. Another bonus: fewer unsold items!” ~ Kasey P., Director

2. More emphasis on Fund-a-Needs

To meet ambitious fundraising goals, revenue doesn’t simply occur. You need a robust profit plan in place that keeps the focus on fundraising throughout the entire evening.

Fund-a-needs are an effective way to capture donations from supporters who don’t see anything they want to buy—or better yet, want to give in addition to their auction winnings.

In the same 2018 auctioneer survey mentioned above (trend #1), a whopping 96% of auctioneers said the great majority (over 75%) of their events include a direct ask or fund-a-need.How Many Events Include Fund-a-Need

The easiest way to ruin a fund-a-need? Not having one!

How often are your most engaged supporters together in the same room, having fun and celebrating your impact? Take advantage of the opportunity by presenting a direct appeal.

Benefit Auctioneer Testimonial

“The Fund-a-Need, special appeal, paddle raise: Whatever you call it, a direct fundraising ask is incredibly important to me and my clients. It’s free money raised out of thin air and often the night’s biggest revenue stream.” ~ Dean Crownover, Events with Benefits

3. Experiential auction items

Beautiful family at the beachIn 2019, changing donor demographics and priorities are making unique, bucket-list experiences more valuable than ever. As The Guardian recently reported, “We are continuing to spend less money on buying things, and more on doing things – and telling the world about it online afterwards, of course.” Intergenerational travel is also becoming more popular as families look to give experiences as gifts rather than physical items.

Who would you rather take out to lunch: the person who bid $300 on a gift basket, or the person who bid $3,000 on a travel experience?

Your biggest donors are finding less satisfaction in “stuff” and investing in lifelong memories.

What the trend means for fundraising: Donors will take advantage of opportunities to give in the fund-a-need and buy experiential auction items.

Some examples of experiential live auction items:

  • Tour the top 10 surfing beaches in Hawaii
  • See the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  • Throw out the first pitch or do a coin toss at a sporting event
  • Private dinner for 2 on a hot air balloon
  • Take a behind-the-scenes tour of a local attraction or performance

Travel packages in particular remain best sellers in charity auctions, thanks to the inherent ‘WOW’ factor and near universal appeal (after all, who doesn’t like to take a vacation?). In fact, surveys of winning bidders show over half of these major donors budget $10,000 or more for travel each year.

Offering travel items in your auction helps redirect some of these sizable travel budgets to your cause.

Download the Full Report

If you have found this information helpful, please click below or fill out the form to instantly access a printable, shareable PDF detailing all 5 Event Fundraising Trends of 2019.

5 Event Trends 2019 preview