Conference attendance is not always as easy as we would like it to be. Attendees must consider travel and lodging expenses, registration fees, and time away from their organizations, all while justifying their attendance to their bosses.
The Western Museums Association (WMA) is continuously looking for ways to help and support museum professionals around the Western region (and beyond!). Providing scholarships is a vital component of WMA’s mission – and we need your help! One way that we support museum professionals is through the Wanda Chin Scholarship program. What better way to support learning than donating an item to our auction?
Since 1997, the WMA Annual Meeting has featured a Silent Auction in the Exhibit Hall, as well as a spirited Live Auction during an Evening Event. The proceeds from these auctions directly fund the Wanda Chin Scholarship program, which helps to subsidize travel and participation in the Annual Meeting for professionals who might otherwise not be able to attend.
Below are suggestions for contributions that work well for the WMA Silent and Live auction purposes. Please read through these ideas and get inspired, and do not be afraid to ask colleagues, gift shops, favorite merchants, or friends to donate to these fun events.
- Items representing Salt Lake City or Las Vegas (the location of the 2014 Annual Meeting) generate enthusiasm for the host-city, and give incentive to extend stays to include visits to the area’s resorts, restaurants, and tourist destinations.
- Items that highlight a specific locale can help frame auction items. In the past we have received items from: a wine-growing region provides opportunities for wine tastings, cases of wine, tours of several wineries; a ski area donates passes to a ski lodge, overnight accommodations, lift tickets; Native American tribes have donated hotel and recreational packages.
- Members of all regions are encouraged to consider offering vacation homes.
- Museums’ gift shop items have also shown good results at the auctions, often with jewelry or other decorative items.
- Museums are encouraged to consider offering behind-the-scenes tours, a tour of collections with the registrar or collections manager, a tour with the curator of a special exhibition, or a meal in the museum’s café.
- Consultants can offer to extend their services to a museum for a day or specified period, or could reduce their fees if hired for given period.
- Donations of frequent flier miles are a great compliment a vacation package, add value, and give incentive to bid.
- Museum exhibition catalogs and memberships are great donation items for the auction.
- Theme baskets are great donations for the Silent Auction. They can showcase a particular museum with items from its gift shop, or can have other focuses such as regional wines, foods, crafts, arts, flora or fauna, special toiletries, or children.
- Art and collectibles from private collections is often attractive to bidders.
- The best auction items are generally experiences and opportunities that cannot be purchased, are not commonly available, and are truly “priceless.” These types of items allow auctioneers to generate enthusiasm for, and bring in high returns from bidders.
Personal connections to shop owners, resort managers, vintners, etc. are invaluable when soliciting successful donations. However, even with an existing relationship, the solicitation may require a formal Letter of Request to the potential donor that explains the mission of the WMA and how the revenue from the sale of the item will be used. Please note that donations are tax deductible. Many establishments also require several weeks of advance notice with a formal appeal to process the request.
Please consider donating to this special cause. The WMA relies on you, its friends, fans, family and followers, to make attendance to the Annual Meetings available for all museum professionals.
If you are interested in donating, please contact Program Coordinator Lauren Valone.
Donation forms can be found here: http://www.westmuse.org/wanda-chin-donation-form.doc