Today we’re pleased to introduce you to Billy Bones. Billy is the marketing director at Booking Agent Info, a celebrity contact info database that provides nonprofits and businesses with access to the contact information for the official agents, managers, and publicists of celebrities. He’ll be sharing with Fundlio readers some tips on how to raise money using celebrity items and promote your cause to supporters at the same time.
Have you ever thought you could raise money for your cause and make it to newspaper headlines at the same time?
Nonprofit doesn’t have to be boring; on the contrary, you can get your share of the celebrity world glam by organizing charity auctions selling items donated by famous people. If you’ve ever read an article about Lady Gaga donating a teacup she used or about an auction for Justin Timberlake’s half-eaten toast and thought it had nothing to do with you, think again.
The benefits of organizing celebrity items auctions are not to be neglected: you collect money for your organization, you raise awareness on your cause, the story gets picked by journalists, and you can start a close collaboration with the celebrity donating the item.
Don’t worry if you’ve never done this before; break the process into tiny steps and you’ll see the idea can apply to any nonprofit, including yours, regardless of its size. Here’s what you should consider:
Choosing the right celebrity
Even if you are tempted to contact superstars, consider instead local or moderate to low-level stars and make sure they are relevant to your nonprofit’s audience. If your supporters are seniors, they’ll never auction for an item donated by a rebel teen celebrity, and a bad choice can even affect your image – the celebrity’s behavior or statements should not be inconsistent with your cause or mission.
Choosing the right celebrity comes down to the following:
- Being an organic fit – the celebrity should ideally already speak about or be involved in causes that your nonprofit represents. If the cause has an impact on their life and represents something they are personally tied to, they will be more likely to help.
- Targeting the right kind of people – take a look at their followers and see if your supporters can be found among them.
Also, include multiple names on your celebrity list instead of building an entire campaign around a single person – you’ll get lots of no’s before the final yes, as many targeted people may not be interested in your request.
What kind of items to ask
The most common items that celebrities donate for auctions are clothes – think of Kim Kardashian who is known for selling her clothes on eBay and donating 10% of proceeds to nonprofit causes.
A second choice is represented by autographed photos, but the most successful items are the weirdest ones, such as pajamas, chewing gum, shoes, hair locks and so on. But why are these bizarre objects in such a high demand?
A possible explanation has been delivered by anthropologists, who have come up with the concept of “magical contamination” to explain the phenomenon. This is closely related to ancient beliefs and superstition. The idea is to have an item that has been touched frequently by a celebrity, such as personal effects or clothes, instead of less personal objects, like a book. It may sound peculiar, but this is what the commerce with celebrity memorabilia is based on.
Contacting the celebrity
It is unlikely that you will be able to get in touch with the celebrity directly. There isn’t a phonebook of celebrities personal phone numbers, and for good reason, they would be flooded with calls. Celebrities have representatives such as agents, managers, and publicists who handle most of their inquiries and filter through them.
The best contact to help you in getting items from the celebrity would be their manager or publicist. One way to find contact information for the representative of a celebrity is by doing Google search, and researching on different sites. Sometimes you can find the information you need on the celebrity’s website, if they list who their representatives are.
Another option is using celebrity contact databases that list out the representatives of the celebrity in addition to their contact information.
Our database, Booking Agent Info, provides contact information for thousands of celebrities.
What to include in the letter or email you send to the celebrity’s agent
The success of your auction plan depends to a great extent on how well-written your request is. Here are some tips for an effective donation request letter:
- Be concise – nobody has the time and patience to read a long, boring letter, especially when they are asked to make an effort.
- Include details about your auction event and highlight the benefits they’ll enjoy by getting involved.
- Explain the purpose of the auction and provide information on your organization mission and cause.
- Don’t ask for a specific item if you want to increase your chances of getting one. Give them multiple possibilities – this way they’ll agree at least for the lesser option.
- Don’t forget to include your contact information – the celebrity’s agent or manager should be able to reach you easily.
If you have been in the nonprofit world for a while, you probably know how important thanking donors and volunteers is – if you don’t show gratitude, they’ll stop offering their support, time and money. If you have received a donation, remember to send the celebrity a Thank You note after the auction and to mention their name often during the event.
It’s important to keep in mind the reason why celebrities collaborate with nonprofits in the first place; they don’t get involved because they need more coverage, they do it because they want to improve their reputation and have their name associated with a good cause.
What if they refuse
You need to be prepared for this too: many celebrities you’ll contact will refuse to donate or simply ignore your request. Some people can’t help it and become rude because they have been rejected – don’t be one of them or you’ll lose any chance of getting a donation in the future.
Not having your request fulfilled from the first try doesn’t mean you’ll also get a no when you follow up with the manager or make a second inquiry.
Do you still think celebrity items auctions are an idea too difficult to implement?
Review the previous steps in this article and give it a try!