Procurement Basics for Success

Published on 5 Feb 2016 by Auctria

Procurement Basics for Success

Procurement may seem daunting but when you make a plan and break it down to small chunks it becomes fun. Procurement is a task that can be done by any volunteer at any time.

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Understand and define the auction audience and ask for donations that strategically fit the bidding audience.


Create a timeline and stick to it. Ask for donations to be submitted with enough lead time to do all administrative activities and give the marketing team time to capitalize on the fabulous donations.


Compose an effective procurement letter including vital and clear and specific messaging.

Be friendly

A letter to “help the cause” such as enrich the students, fight the disease, feed the hungry, save the animals, endow the arts. Using action terminology makes the donor feel like part of the solution by simply donating goods or services.

Include key information

Contact name with email is great but adding a phone number promotes a more personal touch to the request. Tax status and ID and relevant numbers are key factors used by a donor in deciding to honor the request. Donation cut-off date is vital to ensure donated items come in and can then be marketed.

What does a donor get out of it?

Besides helping the cause generate funds do they get their business name in an Auction Catalog? Online or click thru? Make it worth their time and effort. Be sure to thank the donor too!

Call to action

Be specific in the date or time frame good and services should are requested.

Who to ask:

Q: What is your attendance strategy?
A: Start with a wish list of donations that your attendees will desire

Ask ALL stakeholders.
This includes past donors of goods and services, past auction bidders, business partners. You will be surprised what donations are available though online requests if you just simply ask. Many businesses feel that the donation is a way to helping without a huge time commitment. It makes them feel good too.

If you have been doing auctions or similar activities in the past request donations from prior donors. Ask all past bidders. Once bidders have attended an event they are more likely to help again and perhaps give leads or references. Ask businesses that you personally frequent.

WHEN to ask:

Timing the ask can increase the rate-of return on efforts. The sweet spot is when you are personally spending money at an establishment. Smart businesses realize that their target market is front and center and most want to help their current customers.

Sample Procurement letters:

Consigning considerations:

Many companies offer unique goods for consignments such as sports memorabilia, experiences and events. Consignments can be fun and flashy but do your due diligence and read the fine print. Taking consigned goods means the charity agrees to offer at auction an item usually with a minimum sale price. Collections above the required minimum gets donated back to your function. If merchandise does not sell it goes back to the consignment house.

If you do choose to accept consigned goods be sure to budget the starting value and potential profit margin to see if consigning is a true value added effort. In addition, bidders are most likely not aware that an item is consigned, and when they win or purchase that coveted paraphernalia with a large donation, most believe that the charity gets the funds. Be sure to budget time for receiving and potentially shipping back unsold goods.

Thank you, BUT No thank you:

It is OK to say no thank you. Accept only donations with a true retail value and can be considered sellable. A 2 for 1, trial coupon or buy-this-get-that are ordinary have little monetary value.

It's okay to respectfully decline these (or perhaps take them with the notion of using as token of appreciation for volunteers).

DON’T clutter the auction with junk.