Boys and Girls Clubs of Northern Westchester Takes Auction Online: Club Hopes to Attract More Donations/Bids With Innovative Approach

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In the past, auction items to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Westchester were only available to those who attended its Humanitarian Award Dinner. However, this year the Club has opened its auction to the globe. Instead of 600 bidders, the Club now has the potential for six billion. As an innovative way to grow the dinner’s revenues, the Club decided to add an online auction to complement its traditional live event.

In the past, auction items to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Westchester were only available to those who attended its Humanitarian Award Dinner. However, this year the Club has opened its auction to the globe. Instead of 600 bidders, the Club now has the potential for six billion.

As an innovative way to grow the dinner’s revenues, the Club decided to add an online auction to complement its traditional live event. In addition to a larger audience and the potential for more bidders, going online offers another advantage: no limit to the number of items. “We are able to get a great jumpstart on the bidding by posting items well in advance of the gala,” Club Executive Director Brian Skanes said. “We are hoping to extend the Club’s exposure as well as provide an extra recognition opportunity for our donors with links to their Web sites.”

By posting its auction on cMarket (an online auction hosting Web site), at http://www.boysandgirlsclubnw.cmarket.com, the Club is on the cusp of a trend that offers unlimited reach. According to cMarket research, clients who post auctions online see an increase of 22% on average and in some cases as much as 100%. Tapping into this growing trend allows non-profits the same advantages as private sellers who have been reaping the benefits of their own cyber storefronts for over a decade. Web sites such as cMarket, Kompolt, and uBid have realized the potential for charity auctions. Several auction Web sites that have focused their energy on attracting private sellers and bidders are now developing separate platforms for non-profits as well.

This approach caught Club Development Director Karen Ward’s attention and spurred the advent of the Clubs’ virtual auction. “The dinner is our largest fundraiser and accounts for a large percentage of our yearly donations,” Ward said. “As the Club’s membership continues to rise, it is essential that we find ways to accommodate growth by increasing our fundraising potential.”

When the auction began in 1995, it raised $2,372; net income for that year’s Humanitarian Dinner equaled $9,920. Since then, both the auction and the dinner have grown tremendously. In 2005, the auction brought in $250,970; the dinner raised over $850,000 net. This year, the Club’s auction co-chairs, Tracy Fauver (of Bedford) and Heidi Johnston (of Cross River), hope to gain an unprecedented number of supporters and auction items.

This year’s Humanitarian Award Dinner, honoring John and Amy Crabtree, is open to all by advance reservation. The event will be held at the Saw Mill Club in Mt. Kisco on Saturday, May 20, 2006. The cocktail reception, which begins at 6:30 p.m., will be followed by a sit-down dinner. There will be an award presentation and dancing. Individual tickets are $350; sponsorship tables are also available.

Those not planning to attend the event will still have the opportunity to bid on dozens of items on the Club’s auction site, http://www.boysandgirlsclubnw.cmarket.com. These items include a tennis racket signed by Andre Agassi, tickets to New York Knicks games, and exotic getaways. Donation items are currently being accepted. Bidding will begin April 17 and will continue through May 14.

All proceeds from the auction and event provide scholarships for children in need and support programs and services for more than 6,000 youths at the Club’s three locations in Mount Kisco, Tarrytown and Yorktown. For further auction information contact Barbara Cohn, auction consultant, at momsterbj@aol.com or call 914.774.3061. For further information regarding gala tickets and/or donations, contact Jean Skanes at 914.666.8069.

About the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Westchester

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Westchester was established in 1939 as a place for “boys to get off the streets.” It is a non-profit organization dedicated to the service of all youth with a primary focus on children with special needs. The main unit in Mt. Kisco, NY is a 36,000-square-foot facility featuring an 8-lane pool, Child Care Center, gymnasium, game room, two computer labs and an additional 1,600-square-foot Teen Center facility. The Club has two satellite programs: a youth and teen center in the Yorktown Community Center; and a full service program at The Community Opportunity Center in Tarrytown, NY. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Westchester serves more than 6,000 youths, boys and girls ages 6 months to 18 years, from more than 60 Northern Westchester communities. The Club has been ranked among the outstanding Clubs in the national network of Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

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Stacey Cohen
CO-COMMUNICATIONS
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