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Live Auctions: The NO-DASH Dessert Dash with Swaim Strategies

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delicious strawberry poppyseed cake



Hello my Fabulous Fundraisers! And welcome to Artisan Auctions! I’m your host Kelly Russell, and today I have the amazing and wonderful Samantha Swaim from Swaim Strategies returning with more fundraising ideas!

Welcome back, Sam!


Thanks Kelly! I’m always glad to support non-profits with strategic ways to elevate their fundraising events!


Today, let’s share how to Elevate your Dessert Dash. And I know folks are probably thinking, a dash is anything but strategic… it’s just chaos?

Well, stay tuned, and we will show you how it’s done. Ready?

BOTH: Let’s go raise some money!



Sam and I have been so lucky to work with a great organization, Raphael House here in Portland Oregon, who has taken the Dessert Dash to a whole new level.

What I believe is a classier, more strategic level.


Their version of Dessert Dash has helped them raise more money in both their dash and the rest of their program.

They keep the basics of the dessert dash intact: They collect and display beautiful desserts for everyone to see, but they only have enough for two thirds of the tables which creates incentive to bid.

Here’s where the strategy comes into play.

Special dessert bid sheets are placed on all of the tables, and because they want their audience to stay focused on each and every auction package... There is no dash.


I call this the #DashNOTDash Dessert Dash.

Yup! The secret to taking the dash out of the equation is how Raphael House sets up their dessert bid sheets.

On one side, they list all of the available desserts.

On the other side they include places to write in bidder information, their table number, and the table’s top 3 dessert choices.


Then, sometime between selling the various live auction items, Kelly will ask everyone to pass their sheets around the table and write in their personal bids.

Next, after giving everyone three opportunities to pass them around, the guests will have finalized their individual bids and selected their table’s top three dessert choices.

To build excitement, Kelly will keep reminding the audience that the sheets will be collected after Package Number 6.

Then, we collect all the sheets, tally each table’s bids, and rank the bid sheets in order from highest to lowest. Starting with the highest bidding table, we’ll mark their top dessert choice with their table number on a sticky note for the caterer.

Then we move on to the next highest bid sheet until we’ve matched a dessert with each of the top bidding tables. Sometimes (miraculously!) the winning tables will get one of their top 3 choices.

If all of their top choices are already taken, we approach the table and let them choose from the remaining desserts.


Now, it’s super important that you have a great event planner like Sam on-site to facilitate the selection process. A simple question to the table will quickly resolve this selection.

And desserts will be delivered to guests after the special appeal.


All the while the audience is focused on the auction. No dash. No chaos.


But still a fun delightful dessert at your table.


I highly recommend this option to the traditional dessert dash.

We still raise lots of money, but without the slip and fall accident claim.


We just need a better name than the Dash-NOT-Dash-Dessert-Dash...

Thanks for joining us again, Sam. I’m sure we will see you again soon!


Hmmm… Bidding for Baked Goods, Cake Conquest, Bring Me the Sugar...

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