Holding fundraising events has many fringe benefits for nonprofits: a chance to engage donors, promote awareness for your cause and have fun. But the #1 reason we have events? To raise money!

The key to raising money is focusing on profits.

Securing underwriters for big-ticket auction items

As demonstrated above, that means netting as much revenue as you can while trimming expenses.

On the blog we tend to focus on revenue generation, but today we’ll look at one practical way to do both: securing underwriters for big-ticket auction items.

Imagine being able to offer a trip to Bermuda in your auction and net 100% of the winning bid.

Win a trip to Bermuda - Securing underwriters for auction itemsThink your donors would be interested in Caribbean sand & sun right now?

Check out today’s post for an explanation of the process of underwriting, plus a quick video from benefit auctioneer Danny Hooper explaining how underwriters can help you offer incredible travel packages for free!

So…what’s an underwriter?

An underwriter is somebody, either a business or an individual, that agrees to pay the cost of a specific item in your event. This might be the catering, auctioneer, centerpieces, auction catalogs and more. The underwriter then becomes the official donor of that expense and receives recognition as such at your event.

Any covered cost is a win for your organization, but underwriting a no-risk travel package offers a special opportunity for underwriters to see their investment grow and multiply in minutes, before their eyes. Here’s what we mean.

No-risk travel

If you’ve never used a consigned travel like Winspire Experiences, here’s a quick overview of how it works.

Each vacation package, which typically includes deluxe accommodations, airfare and a “WOW” worthy Experience (think behind-the-scenes tour of the U.S. Capitol., red-hot Bruno Mars tickets, private wine blending seminars and more), can be used in your event with no upfront cost.

The package comes with a base price, which you only pay if the item sells at your event for the minimum bid you set (we typically recommend starting at least 20% above the package price to ensure a significant return). Your organization keeps everything above the nonprofit price.

After the event, a reputable travel provider helps fulfill the trip for your winning bidders, reserving each detail for your donors with the white glove service they deserve.


“No consignment”, no problem

“One of the costliest comments I hear from some event chairs is ‘We have a no consignment policy’,” says Danny Hooper, benefit auctioneer specialist. This means the organization will not accept any items that are not a 100% donation.

“I respect that, but there’s still an easy and very effective way to enjoy enormous profits from exciting travel packages used on consignment,” adds Danny. In fact, you can avoid paying out of pocket for no-risk travel at all.

The way to do that is finding underwriters to cover the package cost.

Check out this 1-minute video from Danny Hooper, benefit auctioneer specialist, as he explains the process of underwriting consignment…

Premium items like travel bring the “WOW” factor to your event and are valuable enough to garner high bids – but are among the hardest to get donated by themselves.

Could securing underwriters be the solution for your organization?

Special Benefits for Underwriting Travel (share with potential underwriters!)

Help potential sponsors imagine the extra rewards of underwriting a 4-night getaway to Bermuda for $3,495…

This amazing 4-night trip is the high point of your live auction. All ears are on the auctioneer as she recognizes your company’s generous gift, to the cheers and applause of a sophisticated, local audience. Your gift encourages long-time donors Mr. and Mrs. Smith to enthusiastically start bidding at $4,000, knowing all of the proceeds go to a great cause. Bidding climbs past to $5,000 with 3 interested couples. The auctioneer stops bidding at $5,200, then successfully sells the package to all 3 couples at $5,000. The underwriter’s gift of $3,495 has multiplied into $8,000 profits for the organization in minutes ($15,000 in total revenue, minus the Nonprofit cost of the 2 sold trips not underwritten). Six months later, Mr. and Mrs. Smith visit your business to thank you personally for making their wonderful trip possible.

Here’s 4 reasons underwriting travel is a big draw (share these in your sponsorship pitch!):

Recognition during live auction

Underwriting a trip offers all the perks of a cash pledge – think recognition in the auction catalog, signage, flyers, website and more. What’s more, these donors are the ones to get plenty of on-stage recognition from the auctioneer and/or printed recognition in the item display or PowerPoint.

Impact of donation multiplies

Businesses are trained to look for returns on investments (as should charities!). In the example above, the initial investment of $3,495 for the Bermuda trip turned into $8,000 for the charity. That kind of return isn’t nearly as visible for most other expenses.

Providing an auction item with plenty of ‘sizzle’

Think about the possibilities. Perhaps a local car dealership would love to underwrite a NASCAR driving experience; a dog groomer might get excited about contributing to a trip to the Westminster Dog Show

At Winspire we offer over 140 unique packages sure to fit any audience and donor.

Easy to do

Anyone can underwrite a travel package. Busy individuals and small businesses alike will appreciate how easy it is to simply write a check and cover all or part of the trip. (Yep, you can secure multiple underwriters for one premium trip!)

For more on securing underwriters and sponsorships, plus free templates for proposal letters, sponsorship forms and more, download the FREE sponsorship kit below:


We hope this post inspires you to try securing underwriters for your event costs, particularly travel items. If you have any questions or comments on your experience, please share in the comments below!