When Giving May Be Good Business

My Mom and I were PBS auction junkies from the time I was quite young.  The auction ended after nearly 40 years I think just a few years ago.   Actually we both loved all benefit auctions, live ones, silent ones… I know many if not all of my siblings have inherited this love for auctions too.  Oh, yes, we love a good deal and the thrill of getting a winning bid, but we also love to see what all of the local merchants had donated.  Channel 10’s Great TV Auction was even better as we got to explore a world beyond our small town region.

Some businesses donate to charity auctions simply to support the cause.  Others donate and expect to get new customers from their donations and are disappointed when they don’t.  But here’s the thing.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve brought a donated product home from a charity auction and I have no clue what business donated it.  So when I go out collecting for silent auction donations for my church’s annual Summerfest, I make sure that the business is getting the most out of their donation.   I look at each donation as if I didn’t already know the business and ask, “If I won this product, would I know WHO donated it the day after the auction? Where they are located? How to purchase from them in the future?” “If I won this service gift certificate, do I know where they are located? How to contact them? What other services they provide?”

Sometimes when a business donates to an auction for the first time, it’s useful to participate to see how much interest there is in the donated product or service, how much the winning bid is, and what types of  people are interested.  Sometimes, you find out that the charity’s supporters are really not the target market for your product or service.  However, donating to a good cause often makes good business sense beyond the actual donation.  Many times publicity for an event includes a list of the donor businesses; sometimes the lists are even on websites and Facebook pages, providing even more exposure.  And being visible at the event allows you to network with your prospective market.

As a new business, I was delighted when a friend who is on the board of the Lincoln County Animal Shelter asked me for my first auction donation.  I couldn’t wait to say yes.  Because I know that, regardless of whether that gift certificate is redeemed, regardless of whether the winning bid is low, now more people in the region who are most probably my target market will know who I am and what services PowerUp Business Solutions LLC provides.  And, of course, I will be there at that charity dinner.  Even if it wasn’t a good idea business-wise, I still love a good auction.