Nearly every school and many under-capitalized charity organizations are always looking for new ways to create new revenue streams to supplement decreasing contributions. The popularity of auctions—both live and silent—are great vehicles for fundraising, and provide a fun time for guests that attend these types of events.
The organizers of such events spend hours on the phone enlisting the aid of retailers that have a product or a service to donate as an auction item. Photographers are usually included in the variety of service providing companies that participate in these fundraising auctions.
Typically, photographers donate a photo session for a family or individual photo session, and offer a complete sitting with a minimum bid at around $50 to $75. Eventually the winning bid will top out at around $125 to $150; the entire amount bid going to the fundraising organization. The session usually comes with a time limit such as a one or two hour session. The organization sponsoring the fundraiser takes 100% of the bid amount and the photographer, theoretically, does a great job and sells a lot of prints while creating buzz about his/her super photography skills and personal service.
In this particular model there is a serious shortcoming for both the photographer and the fundraising organization. Did you spot it? There is only one bid package to sell. In other words, when the bids close the photographer only gained one new prospect, and the school/organization only received one donation for that service.
Let’s look at it another way. What if the photographer, instead of having his services auctioned off and bid upon, had a fixed price session that was offered multiple times. Creating a basic photo package for $25 and selling it multiple times—instead of an auction— generates more customers for the photographer and more income for the fundraising organization.
One CCS customer in California who described this newest “auction” model to me maintains that she will frequently sell more than 50 sessions at a fundraiser, and that this type of business helps to propel her spring portrait business while putting her business name in front of a larger segment of the community. Selling fifty sessions at $25 is $1,250 and benefits everyone. Auctioning one session at $125 is extremely limiting for all parties.
Fundraising events, as described above, are extremely popular at this time of year. If no one is asking you to participate, perhaps you should be asking them! Plant the seed and grow your business.
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