Welcome, this year's Auction is March 18, 2017!

Team parents please read  


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Think About Getting A Big Ticket Item Sponsored

Written by Athletics Boosters (CAB) on 04-Feb-2016


If you want your event to stand out and generate excitement, securing several big-ticket items like travel packages, concerts and behind-the-scenes tours is a great option.

Research shows people prefer spending their money on experiencesrather than things, and these highly popular auction items can serve as the centerpiece of your marketing and promotion strategies.

However, while experiences typically generate high bidding interest, they can be difficult to get donated and time-consuming to coordinate.

One no-risk option: using a trip or experience from a consignment travel provider like Winspire. You only purchase the trip if the winning bid exceeds the minimum (profitable) bid you set, and all the booking details are taken care of by professionals—making the trip a better experience for everyone involved. An added bonus: Unlike donated items, consignment travel packages can be sold multiple times, exponentially and easily increasing your revenue.

To maximize the benefits of these standout items, consider asking vendors and individuals to underwrite the cost. If you can get a sponsor to cover the cost of a weekend getaway or red-hot concert tickets, the organization pockets 100% of the winning bid. Plus, you can make the donor feel extra-appreciated by recognizing them in a live auction or displaying their name prominently on the silent auction bid sheet for their underwritten item.

Procuring the right auction items adds value and credibility to your event, raises more money and helps your organzation stand out in the crowded fundraising space. We hope this post provides some guidance for what can be a time-consuming, detail-oriented process.

And today we've only scratched the surface. For a step-by-step guide to item procurement with loads more tips, templates for donation requests and more, click below to download our eBook, An Introduction to Procuring Quality Charity Auction Items.

In the upcoming weeks, we look forward to further exploring auction best practices. We’ll provide practical tips for promoting your event beforehand, resources to use during an auction, and ways to follow up with your event attendees.

Until then, we wish your auction committee success!

When Thinking of Your Team Auction Item . . .

Written by Athletics Boosters (CAB) on 05-Jan-2016

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!
Source: Winspire blog

A Word About Fundraiser Baskets

Written by Athletics Boosters (CAB) on 18-Nov-2015

First, your team does not have to provide a standard basket for auction. The more unique the offer, the more money it will raise for your  team. For example, you could host a Wine Bus Buy-in. In this example someone from the team could get a wine bus donation or you could purchase a tour, (just make sure you raise enough money to cover the cost and then some for the team donation). Then, at auction the bid sheet would look more like a sign up. The first 20 people at $100, etc.

Another great money generating item may be a poker party. In this example a host family is needed, a coach or a personality to draw from is also needed. The Buy-in could look like this, first 10 signups at $300 gets to play. That is an easy $3000 for team. Remember to have prizes for the winners.

Other interesting Buy-ins could be a block of seats at an Earthquakes game, a mystery party, a clambake on the beach, a houseboat party for 12, a tailgate party. As ideas pop into your head, remember buy-ins take more planning and team parent cooperation and sometimes cost.

Also, CAB or the school doesn't insure your party or event, please take that into consideration too.

When making your baskets think about what has sold well in the past, click here to download past team results. Think about your audience, mostly couples in their 40's and 50's with children.  Have a them in mind.  Check out the following basket themes for example;

  • Sports  (stick to one sport per basket)
  • Cal High apparel
  • Margarita, Mojito, Bourbon, Sidecar, etc. specific alcohol themed
  • Dinner Party items
  • Grilling or BBQ items
  • Ethnic cooking themed
  • Tailgating 
  • Teen Themed Gift Cards
  • Game Night
  • Date Night
  • Adventures (snowboarding, waterskiing, ect.)
  • Reading basket with maybe some books signed by the  author     

Think Value, if you donate a gift card basket it probably will not sell for the full retail value of the gift cards. Whereas a snowboarding weekend package basket may go for more than the retail value. For a 100 more theme ideas check out this list.

Whichever your team picks please fill out the item donation form as soon as possible in order to avoid repeated themed baskets. The button is on the upper right of the home page. Try not to procrastinate, late spring comes sooner than you think.  The Grizzly Madness committee does have the right to refuse auction items.

Please have fun with this, if you are stressed out or you are having a hard time coordinating with the other parents just reach out to us, we are here to help!  

Team Parents Please Read

Written by Athletics Boosters (CAB) on 30-Sep-2015

To earn your Sport’s end of year CAB bonus, your sport needs to participate in Grizzly Madness with at least 3 auction items and have completed your CAB event volunteer hours. An example of a “sport” is ALL of Women’s Basketball: Frosh, JV and Varsity together

Each sport may have a maximum of 4 auction items at the gala event on March 12, and an unlimited number of items in the Online Auction, which is March 14-25.

We use Charity Benefit Auctions (CBAa professional auctioneering and event service which has doubled & tripled results from other high school and non-profit events, and has grown Grizzly Madness earnings over the past three years.

90% of revenue raised goes to the participating team; 10% goes to cover costs

We recommend that you focus on high-value basket/auction items; group your donations so that each basket / auction item is valued at $100 or more

At our(CAB) discretion, one of your items may be placed in our live auction or used as an auction game to maximize revenue. If you know that you will have a large-value item suitable for these opportunities, let us know as early as possible.

If you have extra items that were donated to you that you don’t want to auction, CAB welcomes the donation to our raffle, or other event games (Balloon Pop, Wine Pull, etc.)

4 Unique Ideas for Brainstorming Exceptional Auction Items

Written by Athletics Boosters (CAB) on 24-Sep-2015

Thinking Outside the BoxWhen it comes to auction item procurement, the goal is to acquire items that cost little to nothing upfront but are still distinctive enough to attract high bidding. It’s easy to get stuck in the auction rut of gift certificates, jewelry and themed baskets which can make your auction feel cluttered and won’t garner high fundraising numbers.

It’s time to think outside the benefit auction box. Rather than seeking material items - or “stuff” - for your auction, focus on offering experiences for your donors to bid on. Experiences appeal to a much wider audience and cut down on the kind of donor fatigue that results from the same old items appearing on your auction table.

While the big money is going to come from auctioning off once-in-a-lifetime travel Experiences like those we offer here at Winspire, it's easy to put together a few local experiences that might raise a few extra hundred bucks at your event. These types of auction items can also create the kind of "buzz" in your community that generates more interest in your cause.

Consider these four ideas for coming up with unique local experiences that are sure to inspire high interest levels and fierce bidding:

1. Connect to the Community

Reach out to your community leaders and seek experiences. Solicit the local firehouse to offer a ride-along for one lucky kid – winner’s choice - to get picked up from school for a special ride home in their big red engine or ladder truck.

See if the Chief of Police will take on an “assistant” for the evening to observe the day in the life of a local police officer. Auction the opportunity to cut the ribbon at the opening of a new park or name a new city street; and who wouldn’t bid on the chance to soak the mayor in a dunk tank?


2. Feature the Family

Parents of young children will pay top dollar for well-planned family-themed experiences that are focused on their kids. These types experiences are cheap and may only require a few volunteer hours, such as a home visit from Santa complete with story time, cookies and a collective analysis of the household Christmas List.

For active or sports-oriented groups, consider auctioning a dodge ball or capture the flag tournament for a large group kids – including the location, equipment, refs/parent organizers, pizza and prizes. If you know of a parade coming up in your area, auction off the opportunity for a family to be grand marshals and lead the procession.

3. Unusual Items

Exclusive access to things people normally wouldn’t have get plenty of bidding interest. One example is auctioning front-row parking for a year at a popular event venue or school, or see if the city will offer a year of free downtown parking. For colleges and high schools, why not auction front-row seats at an upcoming graduation, sports event or concert? Consider reaching out to your local news network to see they'll offer an experience to hang out on the set, view a live newscast and go to lunch with a news anchor.

4. Behind-the-scenes Experiences

At Winspire we love VIP tours and have our own list of incredible Experiences that take you behind the scenes at venues across the U.S. and the world. It can a great way for local businesses to earn some positive PR and get their name out in the community. Wine tours are enormously popular so if you have any boutique wineries in your area, see if they will offer a group grape stomp, followed by appetizers and wine tasting. If you have a popular restaurant in your town – whether it’s high class dining or the best BBQ in the state – offer to pay for food if the head chef will donate his or her time to cook a private dinner party for 8 at their home. Museums are also a great resource for VIP Tours or overnight sleepovers for kids.


6 Foodie Tips for Planning the Best Charity Event Menu Ever

Written by Athletics Boosters (CAB) on 23-Sep-2015

Selecting the best menu for your charity fundraising event

Selecting the perfect menu for your charity event is more than just about food. Whether it's street-style food trucks or an elegant buffet, the food you serve can leave a lasting impression - whether it's good or bad - and have a powerful effect on the success of your next fundraiser.  

Especially in today's "foodie culture", what you serve and how you serve it sends a message to your guests and potential donors. Hyping it ahead of time, including it in your pre-event promotional material and generally building excitement for the event is what sets the stage for a successful fundraiser. 

Your menu also tells people what to expect from the event. Is it formal or casual? Festive or serious? Is it unique and exciting and something attendees can look forward to? Or is it just... blah. Rubber chicken, for example, doesn't do it for most people. Give them something out of the ordinary!

Here are some useful tips for planning a menu that will delight guests and leave donors salivating for more fundraising events from your organization for years to come.

1. Determine the “Style”

Your menu will likely vary greatly depending on whether it is a formal black-tie gala or a casual Sunday brunch. Before you establish your budget and start looking for caterers, spend some time with your committee discussing the type and style of fundraising event you want to plan.

Consider the level of importance this fundraiser has in light of your other annual events. If this fundraiser occurs quarterly, it can be handled much more informally than an annual gala. Determining an event’s importance, even on a simple 1-5 scale, will help guide you.

2. What is the Focus?

Beyond raising money for your organization, what is the focus of the event? If the meal is the focal point of the fundraiser, the dinner should reflect your goals and expectations. If the main attraction is the auction, live entertainment or Las Vegas style games, there is less pressure to pull of the perfect menu. Determine how significant the role of food will play among the other activities you have planned.

3. What is your Budget?

Menu planning for your charity event - use finger foodsBudgets don't have to be your enemy when it comes to food planning. There are some skillful ways to pull off quality food and beverage options without breaking the bank.

If you are planning your event for the late afternoon or early evening, consider offering only o’dourves or finger food. Dress your volunteers in all black attire and have them carry around trays filled with savory treats.You can also provide wine, cheese, fruit and chocolate and involve your guests in a special 'tasting'. This helps achieve an upscale feel without the costs of a sit down dinner. 

Another budget-friendly idea is to involve local food and beverage businesses. While many may be reluctant to make a cash donation to your cause, some restaurants may be more than willing to set up a “Tasting Station”. You get the food you need in exchange for exposure to potential new customers.

Ask businesses to participate who fit the “style” of your event and the dining preferences of your guests. The best BBQ in town could work for a casual Hoe Down, while French cuisine calls for more fine dining. 

Sometimes you have to get a little creative to meet your budget. Following are a few common places you can try soliciting to begin piecing together your menu.

  • Use local famers markets for your fundraiser event menuVisit all the local grocers in your area and see if each would be willing to donate a few steaks. Always ask if you can discounted pricing on a large bulk order.
  • Farmer's markets are a great resource for produce and other items because you are talking directly with the growers, who are often very generous and willing to help. Discuss your needs in advance and ask them what item they have in surplus - then see if you can adjust your menu to accommodate it.
  • Local wineries may be willing to help, again for the exposure.
  • Local craft beer companies may be an option.
  • Even if you can get coffee donated from a local coffeehouse.
  • Deserts donated from a local bakery.

Most event fundraising professionals have become adept at creating a whole lot of something out of nothing. Get creative and be resourceful in building a menu that works. It can be a rewarding challenge.

4. Find a Caterer

Using a caterer for your fundraising event menuThere may be more catering options than you realize. Many restaurants have catering services but don’t promote them. On the other hand, you may be limited to using the caterer of your chosen venue, as is the case of most hotels.

The best advice on catering is to talk to multiple vendors and ask each what they do best. Perform your due diligence. Read online reviews and ask for references. Make sure you understand exactly how they are pricing your event and what that price does and does not include. Ask caterers if they offer any value added services like centerpieces or other decorations. Presentation is important, so make sure you get to see what the food is going to look like before it's actually served to your guests.

Remember, it is not always about price. You ultimately want an event that attendees enjoy and one that successfully helps you reach your fundraising goals. Saving a dollar a plate is meaningless if your donors and potential donors are served rubbery chicken.

Improve Your Online Presence to Boost Donations

Related Article: 12 Charity Event Themes Matched with Auction ItemsIn this four-part series we showcase 12 of the most popular fundraising event themes and offer recommendations for food, entertainment, decorations, attire and auction items.  Read More →

5. Use a Menu “Theme”

Have a barbecue budget but want a more upscale menu? Promote your menu as “World-Class Barbecue”. You can easily “upscale” your barbecue by offering larger, better buns, giant pickles, premium salads and fall-off-the-bone ribs and/or chicken.  If your chosen caterer is known for a particular dish, be sure to feature that.

By framing your menu or giving it a “theme”, you can set the right expectations for your food. Themes can come from the nearest holiday, a movie, or a country. You can go "Mexican Fiesta" or "Red, White and Blue Burgers". Use a little creativity to add that “fun factor” to your fundraiser.

6. Avoid Waste

One the best ways to avoid waste is through reservations and pre-event meal selection. Reservations and pre-event meal selection limits waste but still make sure attendees get what they are looking for. Include options like chicken and pasta and meal-sized salads. Some people will still choose these options over more expensive ones. If these reservations and meal selections can be made online it will be more efficient for both you and your caterer.

Other Helpful Tips:

  • Ask for help. Board members and volunteers may know caterers, restaurant owners, distributors and others who may be able to help.
  • Offer options. The larger the event the more important food options can be. Always make sure you have choices for vegetarian diners.
  • Avoid common food allergy problems. If nut-based products are being used, make sure those attending are aware.
  • Solicit your event vendors. If you are having a fundraising silent auction as part of your event, don’t be afraid to ask your caterer or other vendors for a gift certificate or other donation to your efforts.


Planning a delicious, affordable menu for your fundraising event isn’t impossible. It will take some effort and creativity. Before you begin planning the food for your next fundrasier, work with your committee to understand the specific goals for the event and discuss how your menu can help you achieve them.

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