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August 31, 2018 The Mystery of the Velvet Elvis

Velvet Elvis Fundraising Live Auction Item

Everyone is looking for fresh items to include in their fundraising live auction. I have a great idea that you might want to consider. One of our nonprofit clients recently offered this package during their live auction.

The item was “The Velvet Elvis”.  You may say, “Excuse me? What is a Velvet Elvis?”. Those among you who are Baby Boomers probably remember those tacky 1970’s Velvet Elvis paintings. Yes, this is the item this group includes in their live auction every year. What makes it work? The addition of a “mystery gift” that also goes to the winning bidder of the package is what ensures this item is buzzed about and sought-after. No one knows what the mystery gift is. It’s such a fun item!

Here is the description of this live auction item from their program:

“Velvet Elvis”

The Velvet Elvis is one of the most anticipated moments of the evening.  Everyone knows Elvis was quite the philanthropist and known for his generosity. He never let his friends leave empty-handed. Tonight, you will be bidding on the chance to take home a beautiful, one-of-a-kind Velvet Elvis painting.  This Velvet Elvis contains a gift.  The catch is you don’t know WHAT that gift is.  It could be the fixings for a peanut butter and banana sandwich or it could be a Rolex.  Get ready to raise your bid paddles high.  The winner of the Velvet Elvis is asked bring Elvis back next year – we will give you two free tickets for admission to the gala. AND, remember…Elvis never comes empty handed….so to continue this tradition we ask you to bring Elvis back with another surprise of your choosing.” 

Intrigued? Yeah, I was too. And I was curious to see the results of the sale during the live auction.

As the item was sold (and I had so much fun selling it!), I asked the donor to share little hints about the item.  The clues were VERY general, but guests could tell from the hints that the item was a trip and not a Rolex.

For a first-time offering of this item, the auctioneer could drop clues, making sure the hints are fun, general in nature but a bit informative. The hints could even be in the form of a riddle.

Display:  Don’t forget to include the Velvet Elvis painting at your live auction display area.  It will certainly get some fun conversations going!

Tradition:  Make sure the guests know they are required to bring the Velvet Elvis back to the event the following year with a “gift”. To ensure the future success of this tradition, I don’t recommend a peanut butter and banana sandwich be the “gift”.

How much did the Velvet Elvis go for at this event? The happy buyer paid $13,500! I cannot wait to see what “gift” Elvis brings back next year!

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