With the tremendous popularity of PBS’s television show Antiques Roadshow, not-for-profit organizations are turning to the antiques appraisal as a fundraising event.
The events have been successful in their communities, with many people turning out to see if they have valuable antiques or simply lovable curiosities in their homes. The antiques appraisal fundraising events are so popular that some people have been turned away at the door!
The Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society Research Center in Lincoln, IL held an appraisal day in June. People waited for hours to have their items examined by experts. The event was so successful that people continued to arrive all afternoon even though the event ended at 3:00 p.m.. They finally had to lock the doors and just complete the appraisals for those inside. It was the largest fund-raiser the Society has ever held, but certainly not the last. The Society planned another appraisal day for later in November. They raised $750.
The Allendale Historical Society of Allendale, Michigan held their first antiques appraisal day in April. One certified appraiser, Ms. Joan Bunn brought books and magnifying glasses to read manufacturing marks and artist’s names. The event was a tremendous success and Bunn wound up staying three hours longer than expected, the society had to turn away people who wanted appraisals. They raised $600.
How Antiques Appraisal Fundraisers Work
An antiques appraisal is an event where people pay admission to attend the event. An expert looks at their item and tells them a bit about its history and approximately how much it is worth.
It is an informative and interesting event that appeals to collectors, historians and community members. Just about everyone has at least one family treasure they would love to learn more about if given the chance to do so. Most people also enjoy not only learning about their item they brought for the day, but in seeing just what wonderful treasures other people have brought, and hearing the stories that go with these treasures.
At an event such as an antiques appraisal, it is important to have experts to appraise the antiques and collectibles. A fund-raising organization can find antiques appraisers by visiting local antique stores and also checking with the Antiques Dealers’ Association of America, or The National Antique & Art Dealers Association of America to find qualified appraisers for their event.
People pay an admission price to attend an antiques appraisal and this is the primary way to raise money at this type of event. Some organizations also combine this event with an antiques auction. An antiques auction can raise money, especially if you have people who love antiques attending an antiques-themed event! Consider having an appraiser tell the history (story) of each piece (or write it down if it is a silent auction) and then give an appraisal amount.
This type of fund-raiser could work for literally any organization – from a small not-for-profit to a larger one. Antiques appraisals have been done by community groups, animal shelters, political groups, women’s organizations and garden clubs just to give some examples. Creating a group of volunteers that will work on this event together is key to its success. A fund-raising event such as this would ideally need a group of ten volunteers to create the antiques appraisal itself, and probably more to help out the day of the event.
Success Strategies for an Antiques Day
To increase ticket sales – consider paying attention to ensuring that you have enough appraisers to look at antiques at the event. The more volunteer (or paid) appraisers you have for the day means the more appraisals you will be able to conduct at one time. As mentioned, some people have been turned away at events that have been so popular – it would be a shame for this to happen. Having more than one appraiser could be the key to getting more appraisals done at your event.
Also keep in mind that publicity is important for good ticket sales. Start publicizing the event as early as you can, ideally six months in advance, but certainly by three months ahead of time. Send press releases to your community newspapers, magazines, radio stations and community cable television stations.
Create a spreadsheet of all the media contacts you have sent a press release to and call them a week after sending the press release to be sure they have received it. Consider creating a postcard to mail to members of your community, as postcards can be inexpensive to mail and to create. Research collectors associations, such as those who collect dolls or trains or toys or china – you may be able to send information to the local chapter’s president to pass along to their members.
If people in your area are highly interested in art and antiques, an antiques appraisal fundraiser could be a good match for your organization. And you never know someone could discover that their attic storage yields a priceless treasure indeed.