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Charity auction advice and information - Inspiration for unique commemorative collectibles for charities

Inspiration for unique commemorative collectibles for charities

From charity bracelets, T-shirts and pin badges to intricate porcelain figurines, glassware and pottery, commemorative collectibles are fantastic selling points for organisations and events across the country, enabling them to raise money, or awareness, for a particular cause that’s close to their heart.

Getting started

When it comes to charity commemorative collectibles, a collectible should be an item that engages the public, speaks of a moment in the charity’s history, and sells a particular ideal, whether that’s to encourage donations or raise awareness. It’s a good idea for a charity to choose an item that can be treasured, or collected, in its own right; stamps, coins, porcelain and silverware can all be collected regardless of their origin, as well as in relation to the charity, while pieces of clothing and toys can be enjoyed both in and out of context. Collectibles that directly relate to a charity, such as themed items, are also popular, and can often be more distinctive.

A little inspiration

For those struggling to create a commemorative collectible for their own charity, it often pays to have a look at the many items that have been released in the past, and to gauge their popularity and effectiveness at raising awareness for their cause. Sport Relief and Comic Relief, for example, have released some of the most prominent collectibles in recent years, with themed red noses, clothing, mugs, key chains and more being sold in the run up to both events.

Meanwhile, charity wristbands, such as the nautical rope bracelets sold by Cancer Research, and the original Livestrong jellied bands, have gained incredible support for their charities and have almost revelled in their own simplicity; a single, coloured band imprinted with the charity’s name or logo has often been enough to get people talking, and to commemorate a moment in that organisation’s history.

By far the most treasured collectibles, though, are those that tell their own story, and exist to memorialise a particular event or period in time; these items can be gathered without context and yet still tell an incredibly important tale. The Battle of Britain 75th Anniversary Commemorative Coin, which was created by the London Mint Office to immortalise the bravery of the servicemen and women that took to the skies in 1940, as well as the ground control staff that aided them, is one such collectible. The coin will now play a vital role in safeguarding the memories of those that served. Created for commemoration, rather than profit, the coin was made available for free; those that wanted to own this incredible nod to the past could do, and at no cost to themselves.

While commemorative charity collectibles have been in production for many years, it is evident that the general public’s association with such items is changing; people are looking for unique memorabilia that tells its own narrative, a way to remember the story at the heart of each charity, and an opportunity to own a little bit of history. Those currently creating their own commemorative collectibles would do well to remember that such pieces are a fantastic way to engage with the public, and to ensure that the charity’s message


For both big and small charities, auctions provide many fundraising possibilities but silent, live auctions present a tough challenge as well as a chance for organisers to raise funds to encourage charity campaigns. The stakes are high, however, so it's important to ensure you make it great.

We have discovered the most profitable auctions use a many-pronged approach to fundraising, which means that people are able to contribute in a number of ways. As well as holding the more conventional live auctions, there are many other techniques that can be used to encourage people to pay money. Here are some dos and don'ts of a charity auction:

What to do

  • Source a broad range of things for auction, appealing to a number of price points
  • Use pioneering event technology services – they enable the maximisation of fundraising potential and encourage high-end sponsors.
  • Find out tips about charity fundraising from the government website.
  • Go paperless. Technology like tablets and big screens help to share event updates with audiences as they happen. People often find them more engaging.
  • Add to your event revenue by selling advertising space, as well as sponsorship packages.
  • Aim to entertain. The best events are fun and lively, so get your audience involved at every turn.
  • Find a great location for your auction.

What to not do

  • Don't underestimate people’s generosity, but similarly, cater to people with smaller budgets.
  • Communicate your target and overall progression often throughout the event.
  • Don't shy away from new devices and techniques of running your auction. The advantages will most probably outweigh the cost.

Charity auction tips

1. Advertise the event items beforehand

Put descriptions or a short list in the invitations or emails before the event, enabling people to plan ahead of time to buy them at the real event. A great-looking catalogue will promote your great items to potential bidders. It helps produce word-of-mouth and enthusiasm for certain items well in advance of the auction.

2. Advertise your auction items at the event

It’s key to have a detailed list or descriptions of the things being auctioned – and on the tables at the event.

You need to make the most of every chance to play up these items before an enthusiastic crowd.

3. Best items are those with an experience or unique value

You want unique items that you can’t purchase anywhere else. Things of an “experience” can be invaluable – much better than something with a tangible cost.

4. Plea or gift and silent auctions after the live auction

People may not have given all their money at the live auction, and they can go and bid again on the file and give money to the plea. A pro auctioneer really can make all the difference.

5. Money over atmosphere

Bring up the lights and turn off the stage spotlights. I can’t tell you how many auctions I’ve been to where there was low or no lighting on the items.

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  • fundraising for charity
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UK Charity fundraising and auction advice and information for charities to raise awareness and funds

Many thanks to Essex Interiors for their furniture and bed / mattress donations.

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