As the off-Broadway home for Irish and Irish-American drama in New York City, the Irish Repertory Theatre needed a solution to help their gala’s fundraising auction raise more money – and they found that in our online auctions. By using the platform’s handy tools, they were able to reach an audience beyond their subscribers and easily promote their gala in emails and social media – a great success story!
The theatre’s Lauren Miller says, “I guess the biggest key to our success was that I was bold in contacting people who could fill gaps in my auction catalogue, even if we had no relation to each other. I managed to get a pair of tickets to Hamilton and a backstage tour just by cold-calling the right people and dropping some attractive names! And following up was huge too.”
Having the auction online made a big difference during the gala itself since, as Miller adds, “It allowed us to enjoy our gala event without interrupting with auctions and raffles. Anyone who was interested in bidding on an item could do so directly from their phone, and the rest of our guests weren’t pressured or irritated by interruptions to their dinner and entertainment.”
And when it came to those items, the theatre worked hard to leverage donations they already received from high-profile donors in order to help round out packages – including a pair of round-trip flights from JetBlue that was leveraged into a whole vacation experience to increase the value of the entire package. Miller has a good strategy when it comes to choosing items for bidding: “Most of all, I try to think of the kind of items that would get me to bid, and package them in a way that is attractive to the donor. This year was my first gala with this company and it was our most successful auction ever, raising about $14K more than the previous year, and I think it’s just because I was fearless and relentless about getting those in-kind donations!”
Not sure where to find these items? Never fear, Miller’s got advice for that too: “Divide up a list of categories: I used things like dining, theatre, culture, museums, experiences, sports, travel, and luxury items. Then, search online for places in your neighborhood or who share a similar audience. Call those businesses and get contact info for their marketing director/press rep/general manager. I would email once, follow up email, call, and follow up email again. I cast a very wide net, contacting about 250 businesses over the course of 4 months. I probably received items from 100-120 donors. You’ll hear a lot of no’s before you get a yes!”
We’re thrilled that the Irish Repertory Theatre was able to use online auctions to help out their gala’s auction, and we look forward to working more with them in the future!