Spin To Win! A New Turn On The Wine Grab

Ahhh yes, it’s an old classic – The Wine Grab.  It’s where your guests pay a certain amount and win a wrapped bottle of wine that may or may not be at the value they just paid.  It’s fun and often times they sell out quickly.  Why?  Because they are at a price point that everyone can afford, and who doesn’t want to leave with something… even if it is a bottle of wine.

We now see so many variations of this popular game:

  • Wine Pull
  • Wine Ring Toss
  • Putt For Wine
  • Wine Bingo
  • Cork Pull
  • Mystery Wine
  • Wine Wall
  • Plinko
  • Wine Cooler Treasure Chest

SS #4

And of course – The Wine Wheel.  It’s a chance for your guests to “Spin to Win!” You can see the wheel in this picture.  This client was charging $50 a spin.  On the table next to the wheel was a bottle of wine or a spirit next to a number.  If the guest landed on #1, they got the bottle that was on the #1 spot.  After #1 was gone they added another bottle, and so on.  The good thing is they were able to add new bottles as people won.  In fact, they added a $200+ bottle of Dom Perignon about half way through, which encouraged people to spin again, increasing their revenue on the Wine Wheel.  This wheel is available to our clients on a first come first serve basis free of charge!  You can decorate it any way you want.  Let us know if you have any further questions regarding the wine wheel, any other wine games, or other revenue enhancers for your event.


Get the MOST out of your volunteers

Volunteers are one of the keys to a successful event.  But how do you get the right people in the right roles at your event?  I recently held a seminar for Greater Giving and discussed the best ways to Maximize Your Benefit Auction.  One of the things we talked about was not only how to use your volunteers, but get the most out of them.  Here is a screenshot from the part of our chat on volunteers.


Also, give volunteers an opportunity to give… most of them want to give, that is why they are giving their time.  They also think they can’t afford during your event.  That may be true… but how cool would it be for auctioneer to say during the Paddle Raise/Special Appeal to say… “Our volunteers collectively generously donated $1,000.”  It is a way to honor and recognize them for their hard work and dedication.

At Stephen Kilbreath Auctions and Events we also provide volunteer training.  And consultation on what volunteers you need for you event.


Africa Is Calling You

© Shawn Oleson (www.shawnolesenphotography.com)
© Shawn Oleson (www.shawnolesenphotography.com)

I have been in the fundraising auction business for more than two decades.  I have sold the Zulu Nyala photo safari trip to Africa more times than I can remember.  This year the trip has made a resurgence.  This spring I sold it more times than ever!  If you are looking for a no-risk exciting opportunity for your auction guests – this trip may be exactly what you are looking for.

The trip includes:

  • 6 days 6 nights in luxury accommodations
  • 3 meals per day
  • 2 daily open Land Rover excursions with experienced guides
  • Elephant, Rhino, Leopard, Giraffe, Hippo, Zebra, Kudu, and many more plains game
  • 2 years to use it!  (from the date of the auction)

Here’s how it works… The auctioneer can sell this trip for whatever price, and can sell it as many times as they can.  For example, if the auctioneer sells it for $4,500 you get $2,250, and Zulu Nyala gets $2,250.  You take half of what it sells for!  If the auctioneer sells it 5 times at $5,000 each — you make $12,500!  And I have sold it 5 times for $5,000 each!

Zulu NyalaThis is where the film I Dreamed Of Africa” starring Kim Basinger was filmed, on the Zulu Nyala Game Reserve.  The value of the package is $5,950 – and the best part?  Your guests have 2 years form the date of your auction to book the trip!

If you are interested in including this trip in your auction please let me know.  Even if you are not a client, I can still procure this wonderful opportunity for your guests.  Feel free to call 206-963-7148 or email  stephen@yourbenefitauction.com if you are interested, or if you want more details.



Spring 2018 – Book Now!

Limited dates available for all 3 auctioneers!

Some our clients for spring 2018 booked in late 2016 to make sure they got the date and the auctioneer they wanted!  Limited dates are available for the key Saturday dates in Spring 2018.  And our spring season begins in mid-January and goes through the end of May.  It’s always good to re-book right after your event, to ensure continued success.  More clients of our switched dates for next year than ever before.  And with Easter on April 1 in 2018 it means lots of groups are still scrambling for dates next spring.  If you haven’t picked a date… Make sure you call 206-963-7148, or email stephen@yourbenefitauction.com to get a date on the calendar.  And if we are booked – we know some great auctioneers we could refer you to.

Stephen’s key open dates for 2018 – Feb 10,  March 3, March 31, May 5.  Other dates are available with our other auctioneers.

Auction Theme Ideas To Create Revenue, and Fun At Your Next Event

Rock N’ Roll Night!

Recently I was asked about whether theme auctions/galas make more money?  The answer is YES, if the crowd participates in your theme.  Wearing a costume, or specialty clothing to an event is a lot of fun!  When your guests really get into it they will have more fun, and spend more money!  Themes aren’t just for schools anymore.  I have done plenty of theme / costume events for non-school auctions.  Recently, a school I do the auction for had a Rock N’ Roll theme, and it was AWESOME!  We aren’t talking 60s or even 70s, and definitely not current.  We were talking 80’s hair bands!  We had so much fun, and incorporated a lot of music into the event, which got people singing and dancing, and most importantly spending money!  We made 347% of live auction value.  WOW!  I mean… seriously WOW!  We have a lot of great ideas to help make your theme event make more money!  Here is a gallery of great themes I took part in, and yes you can see how may weight fluctuates over the years!  I actually decided against posting my FAT ELVIS picture!  CLICK HERE FOR GALLERY OF AUCTION THEME IDEAS.


Rock On!

HERE ARE A FEW IDEAS…. To get you going!  Call us if you want ideas on how to make any of these great theme ideas work for you!  206-963-7148…. Stephen@YourBenefitAuction.com

Some Standard Theme Ideas:

  • Under The Big Top / Carnival
  • 80’s Night / 80’s Movie Night / 80’s Music Night
  • Disco Night / 70’s Night
  • Tailgate / Sports / Golf / Your Favorite Jersey
  • Rock N’ Roll
  • Monopoly
  • Havana Nights / Cuban Theme
  • Great Gatsby / Roaring 20’s / Speakeasy
  • Black & White
  • Masquerade / Mardi Gras
  • Country Night / Blue Jeans & Boots
  • Oscar Night / Red Carpet / Lights, Camera, Auction!
  • Hawaiian / Luau
  • Poker Night
  • Wine & Cheese

Some non-traditional THEME IDEAS:

  • Safari
  • It’s A Wonderful Life
  • Superhero / Heroes & Villains
  • Willy Wonka
  • Hogwarts / Narnia
  • James Bond / Casino Royale
  • Rio / Paris / Arabian Nights / Venice / Italian / India
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Wizard Of Oz
  • Around The World In 80 Days
  • Medieval Feast / Game Of Thrones
  • Under The Sea
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Broadway
  • Disney / Pirates Of The Caribbean
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • Storybook
  • Fashion Show

Make More $ On Your Dessert Dash

007 Whether you have a dessert dash or are doing a dessert auction, it is always fun to see the creativity people use when making desserts for the event.  Now, I have learned not take bites of them, but sometimes it’s hard especially when they are as creative as this one from an event a few years ago for the American Cancer Society.  Brownies as meat patties, marshmallows as popcorn, and chocolate mousse as ice cream.  I wanted a bite of each one.  It’s fun to think outside of the box, and pick desserts that relate to theme, or your organization.  You can make a lot of money selling desserts, and we have a lot of great ideas to increase the value of your dessert dash, or dIMG_20130509_180119_881essert auction.

They also had a tray of hamburgers and fries, except they were cakes!

Check out our Facebook gallery of great dessert dash’s and ideas.

Before I tell you two ideas that will increase money on your DESSERT DASH, I should tell you what a DESSERT DASH is!  At your event you have a table full of desserts.  You need one dessert for each table of guests.  They are on display so the guests can see all the great desserts, and decide which one they want.  At their table, each guest writes down on a bid sheet how much they will contribute toward dessert.  The table that raises the most money collectively gets their first choice of dessert at the time desserts are served.  At dessert time the top bidding table gets to go pick out their dessert, and so on.


TIP #1 – Pre-fill your guests bid numbers.  Instead of just a blank form – put their bid numbers on the form, so all they have to do is write down an amount.  It also puts a little more pressure on your table mates to make bids and contribute to the Dash.

TIP #2 – Asks guests to write down unconventional numbers.  Instead of $50, how about $51.37.  We actually make more each auction as people do this to help break ties when we read the order of the winning tables.

TWO OBVIOUS THINGS – Make sure the table number is on the DESSERT DASH bid form, and make sure there is a line for the total.

Use this form as a template for your Dessert Dash… You can also see how both tips are incorporated on the form.



Can you hear me now? If not, you aren’t maximizing your revenues!


Making sure you have the right auction team for your event is the number 1 most important decision you will make for your benefit auction.  Number 2 on that list?  Proper sound and lighting.  It doesn’t matter who your auctioneer is, if your guests can’t hear them – they will not be engaged.  If they are not engaged – they will not spend money.  If they don’t spend money – you will not have a successful event.

I encourage all my clients to find out what other groups have done for sound in their chosen venue.  They find that most groups bring in a sound company, even if the venue has built-in sound.   If the speakers are embedded into the ceiling – you need a professional sound company.  If they don’t have proper microphones – you need a professional sound company.  If they just offer a podium mic – you need a professional sound company.  The fee is well worth it.  Guests may not remember your silent auction, your theme, what the centerpieces were – but they will remember a bad sounding event.

I think it is also important to review your sound and lighting contract with your auctioneer, to make sure everything is covered – and you aren’t being overcharged.  We do a full review of contracts and can let you know if you are getting everything you need to get your event looking, and sounding great.

Also, my friends at SOUND & SIGHT work exclusively with Stephen Kilbreath Auctions & Events and can help if you have any sound or lighting questions.


Utilize Music to make your Live Auction items POP!

Music is something that triggers emotions, so why not use it during your live auction?  Even hearing a 10 second clip of a song can bring back positive memories or feelings which we can turn into higher bids, and a good time for your audience.

How about a song for each item in the live auction?

  • Seahawks tickets – How about Bitter Sweet Symphony (the song the Seahawks come out to at Century Link Field.)
  • A trip to Hawaii – How about No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem, or Toes
  • A car?  – How about Drive My Car, or I Can’t Drive 55

You get the idea, it can be fun and the crowd can get emotionally involved with your item.  You certainly don’t need to do it for every item… but it is something fun to consider.  If you need help matching songs with items… let me know!  With my radio background, that is something I love doing!

Not everyone can have Kenny Loggins at their auction, like a recent event did in Tacoma.  However, you can make your auction a rockin’ time with some bumper music for your live auction items.

Expect MORE from your Auctioneer

Sometimes the cost of a professional auctioneer can be daunting.  However, a pro will usually make back their fee with just one idea at a pre-planning meeting.  If you aren’t getting fresh ideas and consulting from your auctioneer… you need a new auctioneer.  Even if you an event planner / consultant working with your group, you still need input from your auctioneer, and your auctioneer needs input from you.  There are LOTS of things you should EXPECT from your professional benefit auctioneer.  Here are just three of those things…

The professional auctioneer you hire for your fundraising event should…

  • Know what they are raising money for!  The auctioneer should have enough knowledge about your organization to be able to talk about your group throughout the live auction.  If your auctioneer isn’t visiting your location, or hasn’t offered to attended a board meeting, or hasn’t asked questions about what the money raised is being used for… you need a new auctioneer.
  • Be introduced at the event. For years I didn’t do this… but I have learned it is an important part of the auction.  An executive director or PTA president introducing the auctioneer with a hand-shake on stage is an endorsement of the auctioneer.
  • Be at your event before doors open. I have heard stories about auctioneers who come to just call the auction.  That means they haven’t put the time in to get to know your group.  I am always at the auction about an hour before doors open.  You should have all of the details (timeline, sound check, etc.) done before any guests arrive.