If you’ve been an Etsy seller or maker for any amount of time, I can guarantee you’ve been asked to donate to a silent auction & promised great exposure in exchange for your handmade goods. I can also guarantee you are getting these asks from people who have never bought anything from you & here’s a little secret…they will never buy from you. I know, shocker.
My Silent Auction Story
I donated one of my monogrammed wreaths to a pretty ritzy silent auction several years ago. Not only did I have to build the wreath (4 hours minimum of work) but I also had to buy an easel, deliver the wreath, pick it back up the next day & then deliver the customized wreath to the winning bidder weeks later!
To top it off, the wreath sold for less than 50% of the normal price, grossly undervaluing it for years. That’s right. All those wealthy bidders just waited until the next year’s auction expecting me to donate again so they could get a steal of a deal. How do I know for sure? I was told lots of people were disappointed not to see my wreaths there again. Let that sink in.
I didn’t know this until well after my experience but it’s common for people to attend silent auctions because they can get things for so much cheaper.
This is not where you want your handmade goods. It’s like Coach at TJ Maxx. Why pay full price when you can get it 75% off? It also sets customers up expecting to pay less on top of pissing people off who did pay full price.
If you take one thing away from this, this is it:
Never give discounts to friends, families, random people who ask.
It’s unfair to you, your previous & future customers.
Discount hunters are also blabbermouths so where there is one, twenty will follow.
The real kicker: I could not deduct the retail value of the donation. Instead, I only got to deduct the cost of my supplies. That’s right. It would have been financially wiser & a better use of my time to just write a check.
Did I get any customer leads from that auction?
Nope! I didn’t sell a wreath locally for several more years after spending a ton of money to figure out it wasn’t my target market.
What did I get instead? More donation requests!
Should you donate to a silent auction?
Donate to silent auctions if they are for a charity or group you would support anyway but do not expect it to be a profitable marketing resource.
Have you donated your handmade goods or services before? I want to hear your experiences!