Fabulous fundraisers, I know we’ve been in this situation before: You had an amazing destination travel package in your auction and suddenly, you can’t use it. Whether it’s covid, bad weather, or the destination has become politically unsafe, you now have a dud auction package.
If you have a trip as an auction package for your nonprofit and it's no longer safe to travel to that destination, here are some steps you can take to ensure everyone from your winning bidder to your trip donor can make the best decisions for them while also supporting your nonprofit:
Contact the donor: If the trip was donated by a business or individual, reach out to them and explain the situation if they’re not aware of the issue already. They may be willing to work with you to come up with a solution, such as offering an alternative destination, postponing the trip, or an alternative experiential package like a local spa weekend.
Check the terms and conditions if the package was travel consignment: Review the terms and conditions of the auction package to see if there is any language related to cancellations or changes due to unforeseen circumstances. If so, follow the guidelines provided and work with the winner to ensure they get something for their bid, but also stay safe.
Communicate with your winning bidder: Contact the winner of the auction package and explain the situation. Apologize for any inconvenience and offer a refund or an alternative trip, if possible.
Offer other options: If the winner is willing, you may be able to offer an alternative package, such as a staycation or an experience in their local area. Be creative and try to offer something that is comparable in value and appeal. If a trip to Paris was canceled, offer them a luxurious penthouse hotel stay with a romantic couple’s spa day and decadent dinner for two cooked by a four star French Chef. If the trip can be rescheduled, absolutely offer them that option first.
Follow up with donors and supporters: Keep your donors and supporters informed about the situation as it arises and be timely about it. People may have already purchased tickets, travel accouterments, or even that snazzy bathing suit they’ve had their eye on. Timely communication is your friend. Be transparent and offer updates as the situation develops.If you find out the travel package isn’t viable before your event, talk to the donor or the travel company and work on finding a replacement package so your winning bidders are going somewhere safe and sound, ready to have an adventure.
We know in this situation our first priority as fundraisers is the safety and well-being of everyone involved, while also trying to find a solution that is fair, equitable, and just as enticing as the trip your bidder initially won. While this kind of situation is becoming a little more common, if everyone communicates and works together we can navigate this situation with kindness and patience, so everyone benefits from the outcome.