Auctions, both live and silent, are a tried and true method for raising revenue for organizations hosting an annual event. The foundation of a successful auction fundraiser is obtaining free items from local businesses to sell at auction. Restaurant gift cards can be a useful auction item and many local restaurants are willing to give them away because they serve as a form of advertising for the restaurant. Well-written request letters are the key to obtaining auction donations.

Introduce your organization and your event. Although you are targeting local businesses, they may not be aware of the work that your organization does in the community. Highlight some key activities that your organization does and the impact that this has on people in your community. Discuss the details of your event, particularly when it will occur and who will be targeted.

Request the items that you need from the restaurant. State your request clearly and specifically. Identify how the items will be sold at auction and how the proceeds will be used.

Connect the donation to a tangible benefit to the restaurant. Identify if the restaurant's name will be featured on the event invitation or Web site. Clearly show how making a donation will not only serve a charitable purpose, but also a business purpose.

Personalize the letters and mail them out. Send the letters directly to the owners by name. Print them on organization letterhead and mail in official stationery envelopes.

Follow up with the business owners by phone or in person to ensure that your letter has been received. Continue the appeal made in your letter and close the deal.


Be sure to send a thank you note if you receive the items that you are requesting.