Create your own traditions for your fundraising auction

2016 marks the 35th year that the Sun Valley Center for the Arts has held its annual wine auction. 2016 also marks the 22nd year that Atkinson’s Market has donated a collection of seven 3-liter bottles with an image of Sun Valley etched and painted across all seven bottles.

It is a big, impressive, beautiful lot. It is a definitive collector’s lot, and you see previous sets on display in major donor’s homes all over Sun Valley. And over the course of the past 22 years it has raised one million dollars.

 The Atkinson's Market annual collection of etched and painted 3-liter bottles is one of many traditions at the Sun Valley Center for the Art Wine Auction.

The Atkinson's Market annual collection of etched and painted 3-liter bottles is one of many traditions at the Sun Valley Center for the Art Wine Auction.

Every year the image on the bottles changes, making each set unique. Discussions about the art on the bottles, who bought it last year, and who is interested in it this year are all part of the fabric of the weeklong event. Over the course of 22 years, the Atkinson’s Market lot has become as much a tradition as the Wine Auction itself.

I see lots of other examples of traditions like this: the dinner that takes place every year in the same supporter’s home, the trip to Italy to stay in one of the biggest donor’s vacation villa, the chilled magnum of champagne to open the auction. Whatever it is, traditions are a valuable part of any fundraising auction. Traditions provide a sense of continuity, and hopefully make things easier for your solicitation team by not requiring a major revamp of your auction every year.

Whatever your traditions are, acknowledge them, embrace them and make them a part of the fabric of your event. And if you don’t have any traditions yet, now is a great time to create your own.