Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Retro Article Of The Week: Unique Items Drive Fundraising Auctions

It's all well and good to keep our readers up-to-date on the latest articles on our website, but we shouldn't forget about those articles from the past.  That's why I'm going to start posting excerpts from some of our older articles.  So let's go back to April 15th, 2008.  On this date, the then Bush White House gave $200 million in aid to help with the food shortages in Africa.  On our website, we had just put up a preview of the newest issue of The NonProfit Times.  One of the articles included in this issue focused on some pretty interesting items sold at an online fundraising auction:

An autographed copy of the speech by Barack Obama after his victory in the Iowa caucuses; two torn, plastic Wal-Mart bags; Stephen Hawking in zero gravity. Even "Carnac The Magnificent" might have been stumped by the answer: Name three items sold by nonprofits via online auctions.

With an estimated $16 billion a year being spent during online auctions, there is no shortage of wacky stuff you can find. But what items are nonprofits (or their supporters) using best to raise money for their charity?

Sports tickets and sports memorabilia have a proven track record when it comes to online auctions. The New England Aquarium in Boston got a hold of tickets to this year's Super Bowl three days before the big game. The tickets were posted on Thursday morning, with bidding reaching $4,200 by noon that day, before someone used the Buy Now feature and purchased them for $8,000. "You can't do that in a room, because the event might not be for another few months," said Jon Carson, CEO of cMarket, an online auction company in Cambridge, Mass.

Tickets to opening day at Fenway Park in Boston were going for about $900 on cMarket a month before the game. Boston Red Sox World Series tickets were also big last fall. Lance Armstrong's autographed yellow jersey from the 2003 Tour de France raked in $36,000 for the Pan Mass Challenge.

Sports memorabilia is a big seller, particularly among men, but items linked to a celebrity also bring in their fair share. Just ask Oxfam America, which is fortunate to have actress Scarlett Johansson as a supporter. With a little effort, she could be good for raising six figures for the charity by herself this year.

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but that sounds like it would have been an amazing auction to be a part of.  Interested in taking a trip further down memory lane?  Read the rest of this article on the NPTimes website.

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