Krista Kuhlman, Experiential Marketing Manager at Giveback Sports, LLC

giveback-sportsAs Millennials are now the largest age group in the workforce, there is no better time than now to cross-check employee incentive programs in order to attract, maintain, and secure the tenure of these employees. For Millennials, employee appreciation is key, and can be easy to implement in ways outside a traditional promotion, which can come at the expense of time and money for the company. Employees that feel appreciated become more invested, loyal, and productive. Learn how to motivate and engage employees with some of the top incentives Millennials are expecting in their careers that all organizations can implement.

  1. Wellness Benefits and Programs – Establishing a company wellness program may sound like a hefty investment of resources but can actually be quite simple to execute with an extremely positive impact on employees’ mental and physical health. Increased employee health can help the company save in health care premiums, absenteeism, and boost employee retention. Low-cost ideas include on-site massage chairs, free healthy snacks, flexible work schedules, corporate health discounts for local gyms, and designated areas in the office where employees are encouraged to de-stress and take a break from their work for a few minutes.
  1. Travel and Experience Rewards – It’s not a new revelation that Millennials value experiences over things. Seventy-eight percent of Millennials would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying something desirable (Harris Corp. study). This is good news for companies as they look to incentivize employees. Although promotions are valued by Millennials, a more cost-efficient approach is offering a vacation, concert tickets, weekend getaway, or similar experiences to motivate and engage employees to achieve a certain goal. According to Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, “use of incentive travel as a key business strategy is growing at a brisk rate” and organizations are leveraging travel to drive employee retention, plus health and wellness.
  1. Company Celebrations and Events – Company success cannot happen without the tireless efforts of its employees. It is important to connect employees to the organization’s performance and recognize the value each employee contributes, both in and out of the workplace. Simple celebrations of employees’ birthdays and personal achievement, such as a wedding or new baby, are simple ways to recognize employees on an individual level. Project achievements highlight a team’s effort and lets employees know their dedication has meaning, helping to keep them engaged and excited about their work. Annual year-end or holiday parties are a fun way to allow employees to reflect on the organization’s accomplishments and spend time with one another in a stress-free environment. All of these celebrations help connect employees with each other, as well as increase motivation and engagement.
  1. Volunteer and Community-Based Projects – Millennial employees want to support their communities and causes they care about. Organizations that value giving back and encourage employees to take time to make a difference are increasingly more attractive to this workforce than those that do not. Companies can offer annual or quarterly service days to support a local food bank or humane society. Businesses can also partner with local schools to set up reading clubs between students and employees, or even offer paid time off for mission or service trips to impact people and causes around the nation and world. Organizations that show their commitment to purpose, in addition to business accomplishments and bottom lines, will gain greater loyalty and respect from employees.
  1. Team Building Activities – Team building activities are a simple way to nurture employee engagement, encourage teamwork, and should be integrated into a company’s engagement strategy. These activities foster relationships between employees, allow staff from different teams, departments, and management levels to bond on a personal level, and most activities can cost the company little to no money. Working lunches, basketball or flag football tournaments, wine tastings, or a ropes course are all great ways to give employees an opportunity to spend time together and can foster creativity, optimism, communication and productivity.

In the current economy, businesses overlooking the need to engage employees are jeopardizing retention of top talent. This is especially true with Millennials who, unlike their parents, will not settle in a career that does not provide them with the programs, benefits, and incentives they crave. It is important for companies to build robust employee engagement strategies, with or without large budgets, in order to create a culture of happy, healthy, committed, and energized employees.

How to decide the right number of right items for your next fundraiser


 Krista Kuhlman, Experiential Marketing Manager at Giveback Sports, LLC

giveback-sportsOffering the right amount of silent auction items is a critical decision in your fundraising event planning. One of the biggest mistakes an organization can make when hosting a live or silent auction is offering too many auction items during the event resulting in lower bids, low energy, and a lack of “bidding wars” to add to the excitement of the event. On the other hand, too few items could leave guests disappointed and you may not achieve your target revenue.

Fortunately, we have provided a few considerations to keep in mind when selecting the right number of items for your next auction.

The first step is to determine your fundraising goal. A live auction typically generates roughly two-thirds of your fundraising revenue, while the silent auction produces one-third. If you’re pairing a live auction with a silent auction, you will want to present your big ticket items live onstage only, keeping it to about 6-10 items. Offering 1 to 1.5 auction items per expected bidder provides enough scarcity to drive up bidding, and enough variety to appeal to the audience.

The size of the audience and the venue should also be considered. To better understand the number of attendees who will actually participate in the auction, a good rule of thumb is to divide your guest list in half. This helps to factor the tendency for couples to bid together and establish a more realistic number of donors with the spending power to buy higher priced items that help to reach your fundraising goal. According to successful auctioneer Doug Sorrell in his book, Beneath The Gavel: A Charity Auctioneer’s Complete Guide to Fundraising, a good rule of thumb for the silent auction is one silent auction item per 7 guests. If you expect 225 guests, you should have approximately 32 silent auction items.

A good sense of the guest demographic should guide your procurement efforts. Understanding the profile of the bidder will help in offering the items that your donors want to see. Below are a few best practices for selecting the right auction items for an event’s audience.

  1. Learn from history – If applicable, look at what types of items sold at past events while selecting items for your next auction. This tactic can help you understand the interest of your audience and identify themes of areas to focus. Was the highest bidding item a vacation, some place warm or an adventure out West? Were food and wine packages sold more or sports tickets and memorabilia? While using this past data is helpful, it is recommended to keep auction items new and exciting each year to keep returning guests interested.
  2. Close the gap – After collecting donated auction items and small gift baskets, take a look at your offerings and identify gaps. Providing a variety of auction items in both price point and interests will help to engage with donors on all levels. Although material items such as bottles of wine, spa gift sets, and art are all attractive in a silent auction, research shows today’s consumers are wanting to spend money on experiences, not things, to create lasting memories.
  3. Get Social! – Polling is one of the best ways to hear and learn from event attendees and donors. Luckily, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram make it easy to use polling on social media. Post potential auction items in a head-to-head poll and determine which items are the most coveted, and therefore most likely to sell.
  4. Tie into the event theme – An event theme lets attendees escape reality, sets the tone, promotes social sharing and makes the night memorable. When auction items can align with the event theme, it generates a buzz and connection with the audience and encourages participation to further the event experience, even after the night ends.
  5. Quality over quantity — Most importantly, the best non-profit auctions offer quality over quantity. Give your audience a chance to bid on items that are out of their norm and provide experiences that are a chance to try something new. Donors are more likely to spend more dollars on an item of high perceived value, like a weekend getaway to wine country, than just on a few bottles of wine to enjoy at home.

Identifying the right items and the right number of items to offer at an auction is a difficult feat but can be immensely influential in your organization’s fundraising goal. Using the tips listed above, you can be sure to be on the right track to success in your next auction!

Shortening my to do list


by KayAnn Rutter

In the midst of a long “to do” list at work, I debated about taking time away to attend IABC Heritage Region’s 2017 On Point Conference. On the one hand, there were so many good topics, from branding to video to data, and the chance to meet with colleagues who do everything from internal communications to nonprofit marketing communications to running their own shops. On the other hand—that never-ending list!

Yet I could not turn down the opportunity to learn, connect and communicate. Spending two days in Pittsburgh gave me the chance to pause, see where trends are going and to reset my priorities on that “to do” list. So much is changing in the communications field—so rapidly—you can’t learn it all on your own; you need to learn from others! Though my chances of making a Super Bowl commercial or directing communications for a professional sports team are slim, there were still lessons learned from those who do.

The mantra from Steve Crescenzo’s keynote sums up my reason for attending: “Do less and do it better.”  Many of the other sessions armed me with the ideas and tools on just how to do that. Plus, I have an expanded network of colleagues who can help when I get stuck.

In the end, I came away from this conference with a renewed commitment to data, to becoming a better business partner within my organization. Thought it might add a few extra projects to my list in the short term, I’m now looking forward to shortening that “to do” list going forward. Thank you, IABC!