Consignment Items Making Life Easier

The Scenario: You and your auction planning committee hold a successful wish list party and your procurement team leaves pumped and excited, with a long list of ideas for unique auction items to retrieve.

Fast-forward a couple months to a few weeks before your event… and you realize no one has had success acquiring any of the items on your wish list. 

Sound familiar? Then it may be time to consider the possibility of reserving consignment items for your benefit auction.

“Consignment” literally translates to the act of placing an item in the hand of another, but retaining ownership until the goods are sold. In the auction world, this means a company will lend you an item to include in your auction with no upfront cost. Then, if the item is actually sold, you buy the item from that company using a portion of the proceeds, and the remaining difference is your profit.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Why offer consignment items if I don’t get to keep all of the money?”

The answer is because consignment items can make your life a whole lot easier and still generate a lot of money for your cause. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Items have high yields

Companies who specialize in consignment know what items will encourage high bids from donors, and they can usually offer these items to your Nonprofit for bargain prices. These are known as “high-yield” items and include such things as artwork, signed sports and celebrity memorabilia, tickets to a unique event and luxury travel packages.

Even though your Nonprofit won’t keep the full amount raised on a consignment item, the difference in cost (your profit) can still be hundreds or thousands of dollars.

2. Can sell multiples

Depending on the type of consignment auction item you’re selling, some companies will let you sell them more than once. This is usually the case for unique experiences or travel packages, which can often be sold multiple times with no limit.

Selling consignment items multiple times can be a huge advantage, allowing you to triple or even quadruple your fundraising dollars on a single item. If you have a bidding war going on between two or three donors during an auction, have your auctioneer wait until someone drops out and sell the item to all of them. You can even continue to sell these items after the event to donors who couldn’t make it or didn’t bid.


3. Build Excitement

Offering high-end unique items or experiences can boost excitement and the overall appeal of your event. This can have a positive net affect on your overall fundraising dollars because it creates the kind of “buzz” that can drive up bidding on other items. High profile auctions like these will delight your attendees and leave a lasting impression on your donors.

4. Ease of Procurement

Besides raising more money, one of the biggest advantages of consignment items is that they are easy to procure. Instead of sending out hundreds of donation request letters and soliciting community members to donate items – and hope that they say yes – you simply reserve the items you want to sell at the event.

5. Last Minute Procurement

Consignment items also serve as a great backup if your original auction item procurement plan falls through. Many companies let you reserve items last minute and even on the day of the event. This also depends on the type of item, however. Physical items such as sports memorabilia can take a few days to ship, while travel packages can usually be reserved all the way up to the start of an event.

6. No-Risk

It’s important to keep in mind that not all consignment companies are the same. Be sure to look for companies that offer no-risk items, meaning that you only have to buy the items that were actually sold at the event.

If bidding doesn’t reach the minimum amount set by you and the company offering the item, no transaction takes place. This guarantees that you profit on all items sold.

Consignment items can be a great alternative for committees who are struggling to procure high quality items worth the bids they seek. It is also becoming an increasingly popular fundraising tool that many Nonprofits are turning to first, instead of last minute.

Development Directors are beginning to realize that an auction item portfolio that contains a solid mix of both consignment and donated items will not only cut down on procurement resources but also boost the overall revenue of their event.

This year, enhance your benefit auction by including one or two exciting consignment items. If you’re dealing with a company that offers a no-risk guarantee, then what have you got to lose?


Winspire Communications Director
About Ian Lauth

Ian Lauth has been working to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue since early 2012 when he was hired by Winspire to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes. You can also find Ian on Google+.

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