Dec 13, 2019

What donors want: fundraising elements that appeal the most

silent auction

GiveSmart conducted a research study to determine what donors expect and prefer when it comes to big fundraising events. Additionally, we wanted to compare those expectations to those of the event planners to determine the largest gaps and how they can be closed. 

When you invite guests to your events, you expect that they participate in fundraising. They likely purchased a ticket to attend but what other fundraising elements get donors excited to give? We found that 87% of donors “maybe” or “probably/definitely” will give beyond their ticket purchase, so here is how your organization can engage them: 

Silent auction
Despite the current hums of silent auctions fading out, they actually are still quite popular! Hosting a silent auction is hard work but it pays off as an exciting way for guests to participate in giving at an event. Silent auctions provide guests with a way to bid on auction items or experiences, and in turn, all funds go back to the organization and the guest goes home with something. Confused on silent auctions and live auctions? This quick video explains. 

Live auction
Live auctions are high energy and come at a higher cost (for donors). It’s best to offer only a few live auction items and to pick an auctioneer who knows the crowd and how to work them. Live auctions typically include one-of-a-kind items or unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.  

Games of chance
Games for fundraising events include things like raffles, wine pulls, and mystery boxes. They often come in at lower price points than auction items, so they’re a great addition to other fundraising elements to make giving throughout the event inclusive. Gambling laws vary state to state, so be sure to research whether you can host raffles at your event. 

Advanced fundraising
The ability to raise funds in advance of an event is most appealing to millennials. This can be a great way to encourage them to draw in their networks to raise funds, spread awareness, and excite them about your mission through their personal connections. This is very similar to peer-to-peer fundraising.


Live appeal (but with caution…)
41% of donors say they’re likely to give during a live appeal if it is conducted by someone representing the organization (compared to a third party). It’s also important to consider the amount of money you ask for from your guests: have they done this before, how much have they given in the past, do you have plants (see: episode 11) for the highest amounts, and does the person conducting the ask know what he/she/they is doing? 


Want to learn more about the promotional methods that speak to donors most or effective post-event follow-ups? Look through the entire research study here. 


October 12, 2021

So, what’s the deal with relationship mapping?

It might come as a surprise that the donor retention rate is about 43 percent. It takes a lot…

Read More
September 9, 2021

Empower your donors with better communications

We are inundated with information and calls to action. While a lot of it does bring value, a fair amount it is filtered out and ignored by consumers.  …

Read More
Never stop fundraising
August 25, 2021

Never stop fundraising

Organizing fundraisers and donor events can be a big commitment in terms of time and…

Read More

What our clients say

We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

Michelle M.

The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

Using GS has created ease in auction bookkeeping, payments, and generating post-event thank you/tax letters. While we were online during COVID, our interactions with our GiveSmart via phone, email, and zoom were seamless. A representative always got back to us within the day. I would recommend GiveSmart to anyone doing a large online event.

Julie G.

MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

Jamie F.

Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

Dawn L.

Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County