Many of the nonprofits I work with feel a local celebrity is a must when conducting their fundraising event.  While celebrities can help garner attendance by curious attendees, these celebrities need to be utilized in the best way possible to maximize fundraising for the nonprofit.  Let’s explore a few of the ways they can help.

A celebrity can be a great emcee; they are great at kicking off the evening, welcoming the guests, introducing various people to the stage and even describing the live auction items for your professional fundraising auctioneer. I’ve worked with many celebrities, including James Spann, Jeh Jeh Pruitt, Andrea Lindenberg, and Jim Dunaway, to name just a few. Celebrities bring a level of professionalism to a fundraising event elevating the evening, and I love working with them.

What I do NOT recommend is delegating celebrity emcees to BE your event’s auctioneer. Celebrities are not professional fundraising auctioneers. You would never hire a tree surgeon to do open heart surgery, so why would you bring someone on board to do your auction just because they are free or because they have celebrity status?  Professional benefit auctioneers are trained to help you raise maximum revenue at your event. Leave the auctioneering to these professionals and you’ll raise more funds for your nonprofit.

Your nonprofit should have a strategic plan in place to invite return supporters of your organization to your fundraising event, especifically those who spend a lot of money at those events. Celebrities can help finish filling the room with new guests and this helps spread the mission of your nonprofit.

Oh, and one more thing. I suggest you allow your fundraising auction professional, not the emcee, to facilitate the closing of the silent auction—preferably before dinner is served. 

There are several ways to utilize celebrities but one of those should not be as your auctioneer.