Coordinating your organization’s charity fundraising efforts is challenging enough already – sourcing venues, attracting donors, booking entertainment. The list seems endless. Add verifying the authenticity of autographed silent auction items to the equation, and you’ve heaped another massive undertaking onto your growing to-do list. Right? Well, maybe not.
The fact is Tom Cruise won’t return unique silent auction ideas your phone calls requesting he personally authenticate his autograph for your charity fundraiser. He also didn’t appreciate your excessive e-mailing and unannounced visits. But, authenticating the autographed memorabilia for your charity events is easier than you might think. It all comes down to asking the right questions.
Question #1: How did your firm acquire the charity fundraising items you offer?
Did you know Miley Cyrus signs guitars with what looks like a giant, cursive “N” looped into an even bigger, cursive “S,” but she signs pictures “Miley” with a heart over the “i”? Of course you didn’t. But, plenty of autographed memorabilia counterfeiters did. By only working with professional charity fundraising firms and asking their representatives where they acquired all the cool stuff they’re offering, you’re taking a step toward authenticating your auction items.
There are plenty of ways to acquire celebrity autographs, but the only way to truly guarantee authenticity is through firsthand observation. That means the correct answer to Question #1 should not be, “I buy all my autographed guitars from a wholesaler” or “I trade autographed baseball cards with the kid up the block” and certainly not “I know a guy.” Anyone who “knows a guy” is probably not a guy you want to be doing business with.
No, the only acceptable answer to Question #1 is, “We personally witness every celebrity sign each and every charity auction item on our shelves.” It’s hard not to feel good about that kind of confidence. But, that’s only Question #1, and your silent auction is too important to leave anything to chance.
Question #2: Prove it!
OK, so “Prove it!” is more of an order than a question, but you get the picture. If a firm’s representatives really have witnessed the signing of every fundraising item they offer, there are plenty of ways for them to prove it. The first way is commonsense, really. If you were standing next to Angelina Jolie or Robert De Niro, wouldn’t you take a picture? Of course you would! If the representatives of a professional charity fundraising firm have witnessed each charity fundraising item autographed in person, they should have some candid shots (and probably some great stories!) to back up that claim.
Each auction item should also be catalogued with a date and location where the item was signed. This adds a level of authenticity that’s difficult to duplicate, especially in an age when a simple Web search will turn up the whereabouts of just about any celebrity on the planet at any given moment in time. All this information should be included on the certificates of authenticity provided with your fundraising items. There’s one other thing those certificate should include, and this one’s a biggie.