Considering “Consignment” for your Auction?

Charity golf auction
Charity golf auction

Including consignment items at your silent auction is one way to provide a wide variety of items. By using consignment items you can raise more money without acquiring any additional risk, since you won’t have to pay for the consignment items you don’t sell. Additionally, you won’t have to take out money from your non-profit or your own pockets to obtain them. Auctions held to raise extra money after golf tournament fundraisers have been particularly notorious for trying to sell offering high end consignment items. Sometimes successfully, but often times not successfully. The primary complaint about consignment is that when items sell at or near the minimum bid (the items often do), then the non-profit makes very little money. This is an important negative aspect of typical consignment. Here are some categories of typical consignment.

Memorabilia

One of the most popular consignment items is autographed framed memorabilia that is brought in on consignment. Several companies will provide this service for you. Since the items don’t really have a set value, bidders are free to determine how much they think an autograph of their famed celebrity is worth and sometimes the bidding goes way up. One thing that has become an issue in recent years is fake memorabilia, so we suggest that you’re very careful (or warn your attendees about the potential of fake memorabilia). You’ll find several articles on the internet about this growing issue.

Travel Packages

Travel packages and vacations are also popular consignment items. Most of these travel packages are provided by classic “consignment” shops that have located some vacation inventory that can be provided to your event at a set “consignment price”. If the vacation sells, you need to pay the consignment price before the winning bidder can redeem their vacation. Getaway packages, or “Jump Start” items, tend to be fun, are sometimes customizable, and give people that little push they need to go out and explore the world. Again, be careful to find travel experiences that will net you significant money to your organization even at the minimum bid. This is very important. One company that ensures that your organization makes 40% of the purchase price (even at the minimum bid) is TravelPledge. Learn more here.

Once in a Lifetime Experiences

Probably the most coveted auction items of all are the “Once In A Lifetime Experiences.” These items are exactly what their name suggests, and can range anywhere from a trip to the Masters Golf Tournament, to VIP tickets to the Super Bowl, a great VIP vacation package to Napa Valley, a trip to Six Flags, or even a vacation in the Mediterranean. The good news is that thanks to their nature, these packages can drive up the bidding well. The primary concern with these sorts of packages is that if the consignment price is too high, you’ve “sucked all the air out of the room” but taking your most affluent bidder and sending him on a $6,200 safari and your organization only made $300. Be careful to get the right sorts of experiences and know your audience and how many “heavy hitters” you have coming to your event.

Tips to Keep in Mind

When it comes to consignment items, while the possibilities are be endless, there are clearly a few things you want to keep in mind. Consignment can make your event more fun. It’s always a good idea to have a legal professional look over the contracts involved with your consignment items. The legal jargon can sometimes seem like a foreign language, so it’s not a bad idea to have a legal translator take a look at it.

Our general advice is that while consignment can make things a little more fun for your participants, do your best to ensure you procure items on your own and that bring the biggest portion to your organization.