There are numerous strategies for connecting with potential donors and inspiring them to help your Nonprofit. One resource that organizations often overlook is that of donor travel budgets.

Vacation travel is a massive global industry. According to a study by the U.S. Travel Association, $597 billion was spent on leisure travel in 2012[1].


Furthermore, more than half of all Americans (53%) set money aside each year for leisure travel, and that number jumps significantly to 73% for affluent adults similar to those who attend event fundraisers like yours[2]. In fact, we did a survey of over 1,000 winning bidders and found some statistics that startled us!

  • More than 68% of donors take 3-6 leisure trips each year
  • Over 82% budget at least $5,000 each year for vacation travel
  • More than HALF (52%) of donors budget over $10,000 each year for their vacations!



Question 1

How can Nonprofits direct some of that spending towards charity?

The positive spending trends and consistent purchasing behavior we see in the U.S. travel industry should be an eye-opener for Nonprofits who have the opportunity to offer auction travel packages as items in their events.

Providing donors with an opportunity to make their vacation travel purchases while supporting their favorite causes is a win-win for everybody.

With half of your audience budgeting for leisure travel, you can rest assured knowing there are funds available for what you’re offering. You are going to be hard-pressed to find another category of auction item that bidders are already shopping for before even showing up for an event.

For example, let’s say you have 300 people attending your event. Probably 15-20 of those are the big-spender types who don’t think twice about spending more than $1,000 for an auction item. When you offer a unique travel experience, all of the sudden your pool of potential bidders might grow to four or five times that size since statistically half the room has a vacation fund.

The Numbers
Best selling auction items = Experiential travel packages
Americans average 4-trips per year
53%-83% of Americans have an annual travel budget
Over $600 Billion spent on leisure travel each year

Question 2

How can a charity leverage personal travel budgets efficiently and effectively while ensuring a high-quality product for their donors?

A quality experience includes air, lodging and an experiential or exclusive factor offered at a price point that attracts the target donor demographic. It also includes a seamless booking process while offering excellent customer service throughout the process and the trip.

The Winspire model provides the best of both worlds in developing a valuable portfolio of Experiences while offering a full service travel and concierge service to fulfill those Experiences. Creating and fulfilling travel packages should not be managed at the charity level as it is not their area of expertise nor best use of their time. Using a company like Winspire can create a complementary revenue stream and an invaluable donor relations gateway.

A unique travel experience can pique donor interest and even inspire bidding wars. Make sure whatever company you work with offers the ability to sell more than one of the travel packages you choose. If there is a bidding war, then after the winner is determined, you can go back to other top bidders and offer the package to them also – a simple way to instantly boost fundraising efforts!

Fundraising strategies that incorporate travel work well for both the Nonprofit and the donor. For the Nonprofit, it’s a big-ticket item that can raise thousands of dollars toward its cause and the future of the organization. For the donor, it’s the opportunity to take an amazing vacation with friends or family, and experience things that they might not have access to if they planned the trip independently.

Whether you sell one or many trips at your next Nonprofit event, follow up with each and every winning bidder to show your appreciation of their support. It’s a great opportunity to talk up their trip and build excitement, plus you can give them a sneak peak at other travel opportunities you may be offering at future events.

[1] http://www.ustravel.org/sites/default/files/page/2009/11/US_Travel_Answer_Sheet_March_2013.pdf
[2] http://travel.usatoday.com/hotels/post/2010/05/american-express-survey-average-family-to-spend-4000-on-summer-vacation/92753/1


About Jeff Cova

Jeff Cova, President of Winspire, Inc., has over 17 years of experience in the Nonprofit and fundraising industry. Prior to Winspire, Jeff worked for 5 years as the Director of Development at Cal State Fullerton before co-founding a company specializing in producing charity auctions for Nonprofits where he successfully produced the auctions for 250 of Southern California’s most successful fundraising events.

In 2008 Jeff founded Winspre with the goal of helping non-profits across the country increase their event fundraising revenue and identify new fundraising sources. Jeff and his team at Winspire have helped over 12,000 non-profits to date. You can also find Jeff on Google+.

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