Business

Ask the experts: Charity auctions

September 2015 issue

Ask the experts: Charity auctions

Q. I support several schools and other charitable organizations through silent auctions and find it to be rewarding. However, I get a little frustrated when my display materials get lost, damaged, or are not displayed properly (for example, a digital frame not being plugged in). On various occasions, I’ve used an individual framed print, a large album, a press printed book, a folio, and a digital frame. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. There are a lot of small charity events in our community that I like to support. What display materials would work best?

A. I understand your frustration with auctions and finding the perfect display item. It does seem like a puzzle at times. We have to remember that the people putting on these auctions are mostly volunteers, and they are doing the very best job they can to remember everything while doing all this in their spare time. So I try to make sure that whatever I send is super easy, and I’m very thorough with instructions.

I give a monetary gift card for a family or children’s portrait to most of my auctions. I’ve found that works best for me and my business model. For the auction, I like to send an 11x14-inch portrait that’s printed on paper and mounted to an easel backing. These can be found online or you can make them with large easel back folders. This way I know the print will stand on its own and I’m not reliant on event volunteers providing an easel or returning one of mine. And if the print is damaged or not returned, I’m out only a little bit of money. 

I put the gift certificate in my presentation folder and add it along with the easel back 11x14 and some business cards in a large manila folder. I tape my name, contact information, and directions to the front of the folder. I simply ask that the 11x14 display print be placed with the gift certificate and ask that the cards be placed in front of it. This has worked well for me and has eliminated stress on my part and the organization’s. 

Mary Fisk Taylor, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API, Hayes & Fisk Photography

Tags: marketingphilanthropy

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