To consign or not consign: that is the question… we are helping answer today at least. Big-ticket auction items can elude even the most dedicated volunteer, no matter how hard they try to secure them. A weeklong trip to the Virgin Islands or a Russell Wilson signed football are items which may be outside the scope of your network of contacts.

However difficult to achieve, it is important to remember that these items sell. Our article, the Top 20 best selling items of 2013, placed signed sports memorabilia as one of the most popular items last year, with the ability to sell at upwards of 500% of fair market value. These items, along with mobile bidding itself, add an element of excitement to your auction and can be used to successfully promote your event.

For those unfamiliar, consignment items are packages offered by external vendors and auctioned by your organization. Payment to the consignment vendor is expected only on a completed purchase and any unsold items may be returned to that vendor. In short, each consignment item comes at a fixed price, which you can then mark up in your auction.

The major advantage of consignment is that it gives you instant access to highly attractive, hard-to-come by items, which can expand your auction’s overall revenue yield. Consignment isn’t always a home run, so here are a few things to consider in making sure they are a win for your event.

  • If you do decide to use consignment items in your auction, you should carefully take into account what you must pay back to the vendor if the item sells. For this reason, we recommend setting the starting price at a level where you would be happy with just one bid.
  • Don’t be shy in highlighting your top three consignment items, because if you don’t sell them, they can be returned to the consignment company at no charge.
  • If you have a high worth, or big-spending crowd but a small auction, consignments can be a quick and easy way to give you the boost you need.
  • If your live auction is thin, consignments make great live auction items, as good auctioneers can typically generate bids that are a multiple of the consignment cost.

Consignments can also make a winning raffle. Here’s a sample outline to achieve the maximum return from these big impact items.

  •  Sell a limited number of raffle tickets (100 for example) for a premium price of $50 each.
  • Explain to your guests that the winning ticket holder will be able to choose any one of these top items, with the other two items being returned to the consignment company.

If each of the items has a price tag of $1,000 and you sell all your raffle tickets, you can make a very significant profit very easily.

Consignment item cost = $1,000
$50 X 100 tickets = $5,000
Organization’s fundraising profit = $4,000

If you were to auction off these three items separately and they sold for $400 each, you would only raise $1,200 in total vs $4,000.

You can alter this strategy, with either more tickets or a higher price ticket varying according to the number of attendees and buying power of your audience. If you are nervous about doing this for the first time, try with lower priced consignment items. From the example above, you would only have to sell 21 tickets to begin making a profit.

Guests love being introduced to new ideas at charity events, especially ones where they have the opportunity to win an extraordinary experience outside the general range of the auction.

One of our clients, the R.F. Wilkinson Family YMCA, uses this strategy to engage more bidders at their fundraising event. Instead of consignment items, they allow their winner to chose one of the live auction items but the process is the same. “This was very popular this year - our guests liked to get involved because they understand there are a limited number of tickets, so their chance of winning is higher”, Ginger Hutter, of the YMCA told us.

501 Auctions offers a wide range of consignment items including memorabilia and unforgettable vacation packages please contact us if you would like more information.