Mission Drives Spring Fundraising

July 1, 2014

A fundraising auction and event’s overall success is determined long before the guests arrive and the clanking of glasses and casual chatter is heard. Long before the first package is brought to the auction block and an eager sea of bidders waive their bid cards high in the air in support of your nonprofit organization. Months of step-by-step preparation through strategic development, cultivation, procurement, and dedication lay the groundwork for fundraising success. This spring’s fundraising season success was achieved at new heights due to enthusiastic donors immersed in mission-driven events and the relationships built leading up to each fundraiser.

BTB 2014

Johnna Wells facilitates the Special Appeal atop 15 foot stage at Vital Life Foundation’s BridgeTown Bash.

From start to finish our nonprofit partners were able to achieve great results by infusing mission, stories, and passion into their auction and event to engage and inspire guests. Thoughtful, consistent communication and personal conversations with donors prepared guests prior to the fundraising event. Before guests arrived, they knew what to except, how to participate, and the importance of showcasing financial support at the event. Upon arrival, guests were greeted by friendly staff and volunteers, engaged throughout each portion of the program, and inspired to give generously through a strong case for investment.

With over 30 auction and events facilitated by our Benefit Auctions 360 team this spring season, these are the trends that stood out:

  • Most popular theme: Gatsby/Speakeasy/Roaring 20’s
  • Special Appeal: contributions are back to record levels as seen in 2007
  • Live Auction: largest package sold at $27,500 for a trip to the Masters
  • Silent Auction: less is more with focus on games as additional revenue generators
  • Run of Show: less talking heads and more storytelling
  • After Party: engage new supporters with a separate admission ticket to dance the night away as they learn about your organization

With these trends seen throughout the spring fundraising season, we are excited for what is in-motion for the fall fundraising season. We kick-off on stage in two months and look forward to reaching greater heights with our nonprofit fundraising partners. Here’s to a summer filled with momentum building!

Set Your Sights on a PHOTO BOOTH!

October 28, 2013

Keeping your guests entertained and engaged throughout the entirety of your fundraising auction and event, is a sure fire way to boost guest engagement! And active guest engagement is a wonderful kick starter towards the success of your fundraising auction and event! A Silent Auction, backed by additional revenue generators such as Raffles, Wine Walls, Games, etc., are great ways to engage your supporters throughout the course of your event.  A sponsored Photo Booth is another fantastic way to engage your guests in your signature, annual fundraising event, leaving them with a memento to recall the celebrated support and fun had by all at your event. This type of sponsorship opportunity is an advantageous marketing option for your sponsorship menu, providing a potential sponsor with a very engaging way of highlighting their support for your fundraising event!


Lauren Dully and Johnna Wells of Benefit Auctions 360 pose in the Speakeasy inspired Photobooth sponsored by DiLusso Homes, and presented by PaparazziTonight.com

Classroom Art = A+ at Auction

March 24, 2013

We are so very fortunate to partner with  Nonprofit Organizations and Foundation’s across the fundraising spectrum at Benefit Auctions 360. And quite often, we join school foundations in their fundraising efforts as well! Through these partnerships we’re always so excited to see so many creative and talented students producing award winning classroom projects in partnership with their teachers for their upcoming school auction. 

Classroom Art Projects at the Ainsworth Red Ball

These projects are always incredibly coveted, heavily bid upon, and highly acclaimed, and year after year, students and teachers let their artistic expressions and creative intentions shine in an attempt to lovingly create a piece to include in the Live Auction, raising money for their school, and creating a treasured keepsake for the winning bidder.

Classroom Art Projects at the Ainsworth Red Ball

Over the years, we’ve certainly found that classroom projects which feature an identifying factor for each child that participated, to be very well received.  Such is the case with the Soaring Bird Project up above, which has a color coded key, featuring each child’s name and the “color” of paint that they were given creative liberty with.  A similar format was utilized on the bird below, which features each child’s fingerprint, and a color coded key complete with each child’s name listed below the image of the bird.

Classroom Art Project at St. Pius X

We’ve also found that any projects created to increase the potential for increased bidding participation to be extremely effective. The project below features photos of each child across an entire grade, expertly pieced together to form the image of a tree. By including photos of children throughout an entire grade level,  the school was able to expand upon the potential bidding base of interested bidders. When you increase interest, you expand upon your bidding base, and this potentially leads to an increase in fundraising dollars. 

Classroom Art Project at St. Pius X

Another fantastic example of classroom art is noted below. Each student wrote a poem or short compilation of their “favorite things”, and these treasured words were combined with their individual school photos, and then collaged onto canvas, a large dandelion blowing in the wind, is silk screened across the top to create an eye catching and symbolically fueled piece!

Classroom Art Project at St. Pius X

The Freshwater Trust Celebrates 30 years!

March 5, 2013

On Friday, February 22, 2013, we joined The Freshwater Trust to celebrate their thirty years of service, protecting, conserving, and advocating for our freshwater ecosystems!

The First 10 Years!

For the last thirty years, The Freshwater Trust has been changing the course of conservation, forming strategic partnerships and developing an integrated and effective approach to freshwater restoration – because healthy rivers and streams mean healthy living for us all.

The Second 10 Years!

Through ongoing science-based restoration projects that improve the health of our freshwater ecosystems, The Freshwater Trust is conducting on-the-ground restoration projects on rivers and streams in Oregon, working to  return a river to its natural state, and working with willing landowners to keep more water in our rivers and streams.

The Third 10 Years!

As the nation’s first water trust, The Freshwater Trust builds, and locally implements, the game-changing tools that will achieve freshwater health.

In celebrating The Freshwater Trust’s 30 year’s of service, supporters from throughout Oregon gathered at the Portland Art Museum, and joined by the weight of support that extended beyond the ballroom as well, guests helped to catapult the preservation and restoration of our freshwater ecosystems through their attendance, and support during the Silent Auction, Live Auction, and the evening’s Special Appeal.

Get Your Golden Tickets HERE!

Throughout the Silent Auction, The Freshwater Trust did an incredible job highlighting their Golden Tickets – a raffle inclusion, allowing for guests to purchase a raffle ticket for the chance to win any item/package featured in the Live Auction. If an Organization is to include a Golden Ticket Raffle drawing within the context of their fundraising event, it is highly encouraged that a Golden Ticket selling “station” be accessible during the Silent Auction. When the Golden Ticket station is highly visible, guests are more apt to purchase tickets because the tickets and ticket sellers are easy to locate and are more visibly accessible. Ease of access for the purchase of Golden Raffle Tickets (or any additional revenue generator) increases potential for revenue generated.

Through revenue generated by Golden Ticket sales, Silent Auction, Live Auction, and Special Appeal support, The Freshwater Trust’s annual fundraising auction and event raised over $500,000 to continue to change the course of conservation!

AUCTION RECAP: The 23rd Annual High Desert Rendezvous!

August 20, 2012

We were back in the saddle on Saturday, August 18, 2012 at the High Desert Museum’s Annual High Desert Rendezvous!

Benefit Auctions 360 at the 2012 High Desert Rendezvous!

For the eighth year, I have had the distinct pleasure of heading to Bend, Oregon for this signature fundraising auction and event, to benefit the High Desert Museum – one of the preeminent historical and cultural museums of the west!

Held off museum grounds for the first time in over eight years, attendees at this year’s High Desert Rendezvous sunk their boots and their spurs into the Horse Butte Equestrian Center! Hosted by High Desert Museum Board Member, Elizbeth McCool, the 2012 High Desert Rendezvous turned back the hands of time, bringing guests the most popular games and rodeo events from the original Rendezvous!

With additional, thematic revenue generators like a Team Branding Calcutta and Contest, Calf Roping, Quick Draw Shooting, Cast Iron Skillet Toss, and Card Games, guests quite literally had a “hay day” showcasing support for the High Desert Museum!












A Cowboy Dinner, Hosted Bar, and Live Auction featuring some of the best packages west of the Mississippi, rounded out this 23rd Annual High Desert Rendezvous! In honor of the High Desert Museum’s 30th anniversary, the Emeritus Trustees presented a collective matching challenge during the Special Appeal, matching the first 30 donors that raised their paddles at the $1,000 level of giving, dollar for dollar! With unwavering support, this matching challenge garnered over $64,000 at this level of giving alone, proving once again, that a strategically placed matching challenge that is carefully executed, can generate substantial support and continued excitement during one’s Special Appeal!











When combined with the total revenue raised throughout the evening, this 23rd Annual High Desert Rendezvous was the most successful fundraising auction and event in the museum’s history! As if the success of this fundraising auction and event wasn’t sweet enough, it was made even sweeter when coupled with the greatest honor – working alongside my father, auctioneer Randy Wells, and my mother, auction coordinator extraordinaire, Annette Wells.

My Incredible Parents - Randy and Annette Wells

Though I grew up in an auction family, we rarely have the opportunity to work onsite together, each of us often conducting our own auctions on the same night. The 23rd Annual High Desert Rendezvous allowed for our family to be back in the saddle again as well, doing what we do best, working together!

A Little Bit of Lighting Can Go A Loooooong Way!

March 28, 2012

As a full-spectrum fundraising company, we often do not suggest that our clients devote too much of their budget toward line items that do not yield a clear return on the dollar. One such area can fall under the category of  event decor.  However, there ARE ways to set the mood or add to the thematic element of your event on a budget.  One of the most effective areas to do so is to incorporate the right kind of LIGHTING!

The photo above was taken at the recent auction and event for Childpeace Montessori School, held at Pure Space. Our local Portland rental and production company, West Coast Event Productions, helped set the mood for their theme, A Grimm & Grey Fairytale by projecting gobos of trees to allow guests to feel that they were in a forest.

At another recent auction for Lewis & Clark Law School, the students putting on the event added LED lighting on the food displays (catering was beautifully done by Mezzaluna) to help add to the Bollywood theme.

We have so many fabulous resources for lighting rentals in Portland, some of which are:

Hollywood Lighting

West Coast Event Productions


Our House – They Let the Sunshine In…

February 21, 2012

It’s one thing to throw a really great party. It’s another thing to throw a great party that in all actuality is an unbelievably fantastic fundraising auction and event! And Our House of Portland has the latter perfected in every way!

The 2012 Our House auction and event was an epic celebration on every level! Co-Chairs Gary Nelson and Minh Tran, crafted a clever way to get guests into the groove of giving with this year’s theme – The Age of Aquarius! Though an event theme is only a small fraction on the color wheel of auction and event planning, Our House of Portland is truly gifted when it comes to capturing the essence of that which inspires their supporters, and utilizing that essence as inspiration to create annual events that resonate into both their donor base and throughout the Portland community!

A vital part of the Portland community since 1988, Our House has been providing a continuum of compassionate care and vital resources to people with advanced HIV/AIDS who are having difficulty managing independent living. By respecting the dignity, spirit, worth, needs and rights of everyone they touch, they have been inspiring people with HIV/AIDS to live well – celebrating life and letting the sunshine in for nearly 25 years.

And this year’s annual auction and event, The Age of Aquarius was a celebration of life and living well in its fullest form! With over 450 guests, supporters turned out in droves, ready to strut their stuff and raise their paddles high to pay tribute to the work of this treasured organization.

Our House supporter Judge Kemp, and auctioneer Johnna Wells getting into the groove of giving!

Though a theme is not in any way shape or form a solo conduit for success when it comes to fundraising (an entire year of strategic development and planning on behalf of the Our House staff, c0-chairs, board of directors, committee, and Benefit Auctions 360 was thoughtfully executed in an effort to achieve such sensational results), it can certainly put the FUN back into fundraising. And when guests are having  fun, it’s more likely that they will not only champion your celebration throughout the entire evening, but it’s also more likely that they will be moved and motivated to give financially as well!  And such was certainly the case at this year’s auction and event for Our House. Raising close to $400,000, this lively auction and event secured record breaking support from steadfast donors whose support let the sunshine in on the work of Our House, and celebrated the lives of those that they touch!

AUCTION RECAP: Laughter is the Best (Fundraising) Medicine for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon

November 11, 2011

As fundraising auctioneers, we are always working hard to maximize the amount of financial support we can help generate at our clients’ events. But sometimes the riches come in other forms as well—like laughs.

That’s the case at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon annual Comedy Benefit, and has been every time we have the pleasure of partnering with them over the past five years. As at events in the past, this year’s 14th Annual Comedy Benefit at downtown Bend’s Tower Theater featured two nationally-recognized comedians, Jake Woodmansee and Jason Love, one getting the crowd energized before the live auction and one wrapping up the night.

It’s a great example of what we suggest to our clients: to find an entertaining and engaging theme to weave throughout the event, one that will amp up the crowd and create an exciting bidding environment when it’s time to throw out the first auction package. Indeed, BA360 Auctioneer Randy Wells kept that excitement going as he auctioned off packages like a private poker party, year-long athletic club membership, 20-bottle instant “wine cellar” and fridge, and getaways to Italy, Cabo San Lucas and Bali.

While comedy may not be the right fit for every organization and their audience, but we’ve seen it be quite the success for BBBS. After all, isn’t it the Littles (kids) who are the most natural comedians of all?

AUCTION RECAP: CAT Lands on Their Feet with New Auction Technologies

November 9, 2011

More and more this year, it’s been so fun to watch our clients incorporating new technologies into their events. We first told you about the text-to-donate service from Qtego that was used at the Basic Rights Oregon event last month. And this past Saturday, the Cat Adoption Team showcased a variety of cool text services at their annual Whisker Wonderland Gala at the downtown Portland Hilton.

In addition to a text-to-donate campaign with proceeds going to renovating the five free-roaming cat colony rooms at the no-kill shelter in Sherwood, guests could text-to-bid on the silent auction items—complete with QR codes that you could quickly snap on your phone—and text-to-buy items at the CAT store (beds, collars, and other goodies for kitties at home).


As if you needed more reason to whip out the smart phone, CAT also announced their new Android app to browse through the adorable, adoptable cats at the shelter. iPhone users will have to stay tuned…

The dinner and auction itself was a blast as well, with a lively heads and tails game before 15 live auction packages flew off the bidding block. Guests loved the getaways to Bali and Italy, of course, but also swarmed over several wine country getaways (one with a hot air balloon ride, another with a winemaking lesson), a package of 12 amazing dates, a home makeover, and everyone’s favorite, the chance to make your cat a star in the 2013 CAT calendar complete with professional portraits for your pretty kitty.

I myself was tempted with that one, since my Pippy (who I adopted from CAT in April 2010) is the cutest cat I know. Just saying!

If you couldn’t make the event, you still have a chance to give to CAT through Willamette Week‘s 2011 Give!Guide, which is out today!

See more photos and the special video from Whisker Wonderland.

AUCTION RECAP: Friday Night Alight for Basic Rights Oregon

October 12, 2011

Last Friday night was sizzling at the Portland Art Museum, as supporters gathered to celebrate Basic Rights Oregon at their annual party. The theme, IGNITE, certainly got the party fired up, and the BA360 team was thrilled to throw on our dapper suits and sassy cocktail frocks to join the fun—which all told, raised more than $260,000 in support of LGBT rights!

Kate Kendall praising the hard work of BRO during dinner at IGNITE.

This year actually involved two events in one at the Museum’s Mark Building, directed by Samantha Swaim—a move that proved quite popular with the over 900 guests. The night began downstairs in the sunken ballroom with dinner by Vibrant Table, a rousing speech by Kate Kendall, the Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and of course, an exciting live auction with packages that got the room buzzing. Think: an evening with Angels in America actor Wade McCollum; a visit to the Robert Reynolds Chefs Studio; getaways to Hawaii, San Francisco, and Italy; and a workout with rugby star Ben Cohen, to name a few.

BA360’s Johnna Wells on fire during the live auction!

They also took the time to pause and watch a new video to focus on a key goal of the night: to raise enough funds to run the Marriage Matters ads on statewide TV for another week. The new video showcased how minds—and hearts—can be changed to support the right to marry for all:

Meanwhile, upstairs in the Kridel Grand Ballroom, the spark for an epic dance party was getting ready to BLOW. UP. Guests stepped into the photo booth to answer the question, “What ignites you?” and then headed into the red-drenched ballroom with an illuminated bar front and center.

Guests answered the question with what matters most to them.

But even as the party heated up, the giving didn’t end, thanks to a new text-to-donate program powered by Qtego Auction. It was incredible to see the fundraising total rise exponentially on the big screens! And even as DJ Dan-o-mite and DJ Lunchlady got people to bust a move, they could still keep giving throughout the night in the spirit of celebration. It’s a promising technology that we’re excited to see in action.

Qtego-powered text-to-give gets started.

All in all, it was an event that tried new things and found that to be a roaring success! Want to see more photos of all the fun? Check out the BRO event’s Facebook page. (Thanks to Amaren Colosi, Jonny Schultz, and Rosemary Ragusa who photographed the event.)