Ahhh… Summertime. Time to take a break from your charity’s fundraising activities until the fall, right?? Wait!! Instead, try taking advantage of the peace and quite with these five easy summer preparation ideas that will make things easier as you begin planning for your next charity event.

1. Procure Auction Items Early 

Take the heat off by preparing for your fall live and silent auctions now. Call your auction committee for happy hour by the pool and devise a strategy to round up the best items using these tips:

  • Decide who will be involved with procuring auction items. Board members? Other volunteers? Staff? Find people who are enthusiastic and motivated by your organization’s mission and mobilize a committee dedicated to procurement. Consider possible incentives to motivate your team – perhaps a prize for the person who gathers the most items on the list.
  • Establish a theme. Establishing a theme early on will help you and your committee come up with unique ideas for auction items and focus your procurement efforts on items that would be the most ideal for your audience.
  • Survey past guests. Consider a brief survey of past attendees to determine what auction items they did and did not like. Quality matters more than quantity. For more, see Survey Donors to Boost Fundraising Revenue at Your Next Charity Auction.


  • Revise your procurement documents. Take a fresh look at your procurement letter, donation form and other documents to see if they need any revising. For more on this, see Silent Auction Forms: The Essential List.
  • Plan your “boots on the ground” strategy. Give your team some guidance on where to go and solicit businesses for auction items. Where are there a lot of businesses concentrated in one place? The mall is a wonderful and cool place to make many requests in one afternoon. Where else can you go now to lay the groundwork for a direct ask in the fall? 
  • Secure items early. By gathering some of your high end items now, you can start preparing the promotional materials for your upcoming event. Intrigue your guests with some of the amazing items that will be up for bid at your event. Consider reserving a Winspire Experience early on and using it in your promotional material as a draw to boost ticket sales and even encourage more donations. For more on this, see: The Biggest Secret to Hosting a Successful Charity Auction.

2. Media Coverage

Work with local media outlets now for coverage of your fall or winter event. The media loves human interest stories. Make sure you tie this in with an announcement about your fundraiser by focusing on who will be honored at your event. Try pursuing some these free options for press coverage of your event and your nonprofit organization.

  • Radio. Reach out to your local radio stations for an interview during morning or afternoon drive times to promote your fundraiser. Schedule this for 3-4 weeks ahead of your event to maximize exposure and listener response.
  • Television. Begin working with your local television stations to secure a spot on a morning show for you or your executive director to talk about your charity and how the event will support your mission.
  • Press Release. Work on your event’s press release now.  You can always make changes as it draws closer. By preparing now, you will have a workable document that you can simply edit later. For more on this, check out this 3-part series on how to create and distribute press releases to promote your charity event.

3. Recruit Volunteers

Don’t wait until the last minute to organize your volunteer needs. Early preparation will ensure you gain quality people and the right number of people to be on hand for all aspects of event planning and execution. Make a list for each special function needed, using the following as guidelines, and decide how many volunteers you will need:           

  • Event planning committee. You probably already have this one in place if you’ve started planning, but it’s a good idea to get commitments early and have backups in case people’s schedules change.
  • Auction/Procurement committee and donation volunteers. Put these people to work right away on securing top quality auction items for your event.
  • On-site Volunteer Roles:
    • Registration
    • Managing Silent and Live Auctions
    • Food and Beverage
    • Check out
    • Clean Up
    • Follow Up / Thank You

4. Scrub Your Invite and Email Lists

How many times have you sat at your desk to develop your event’s invite list only to find you need to do a massive clean up before your invitations can go out? Spend a little time now to remove stale entries from your existing lists so they are easier to edit later on. 

Consider the following questions when reviewing your email and invite lists:

  • When was the last time we received a donation from this individual?
  • Was the last donation significant in size? [You decide what is significant to your organization.]
  • Does this individual ever come to our events?
  • Do they decline the invitation but send in a donation?
  • Was this individual a one-time donor who needs further cultivation?

For more on how to segment your list of donors, see 4 Simple Donor Segments That Will Maximize Your Fundraising Efforts.

5. Organize and Secure Vendors for Your Event

Work with your planning committee now to make sure you have everything in place for your event this fall or winter. Some vendors, such as bands and auctioneers, need a long lead time on their calendars. Secure the following early for peace of mind and potentially “early bird” pricing:

  • Venue
  • Band or DJ
  • Sound and Lighting
  • Videographer/Photographer
  • Photo Booth and Other “Fun Stations”
  • Food and Beverage
  • Auctioneer
  • Winspire – for your consignment travel auction items


Consider these tips and make life easier for yourself this fall! Proper preparation will make the entire process of planning and running your next charity auction event more fun and engaging for your entire team.