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See the latest news about our upcoming events, fundraising tips and partners.

Meet Jim Alvarez of Gesture in Westmont

Originally published on 09/12/2017 on VoyageChicago

Jim Alvarez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jim Alvarez.


Jim, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.

In 2011, I attended a charity event and noticed them using paper bid sheets. People would come and make a bid, then they’d start socializing and never really have a chance to go back to check and see if they’ve been outbid. There were also long lines at checkout, and after spending the evening donating to and celebrating a cause, the last thing you want to do is wait in line to pay. I knew there had to be a better way to process bids and donations. I started doing research on better ways to run a silent auction and ended up starting in the mobile fundraising business by licensing technology. Our first year, we did about 50 events, and we’ve grown so much since then. Approximately, three years after that, I brought in our CTO Rich Aquino to create our proprietary platform to make it even better.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?

Nothing about entrepreneurship is easy, and I highly doubt any entrepreneur has had a smooth road. Our struggle was in that we started out licensing other technology, and we didn’t have control so if the system went down, we were at the will of the other technology. Once Rich came on board and we built our own, it’s been a lot smoother.

We’re constantly innovating to make our product work better for our charity partners, and now we have control over that whole process.

We’d love to hear more about your business.

Gesture is a mobile fundraising company; our technology platform is packed with tools that allow you to fully manage your fundraising campaigns. These products make it easier for donors to give and reaches them where they’re most engaged: on their mobile devices. It also makes it easier for our charity partners to analyze event data to make improvements in the future. We’re most proud that we’re going to raise $1,000,000,000 for charity partners over the span of 6 years (2015-2021).

Gesture’s technology is different from others because we don’t require that users have an app to participate in giving; they can give from their cell phone and they can give from anywhere in the world. Our motto is “make hope happen” and that’s our number one priority. We go the extra mile to make a fundraising initiative a success for all charity partners, whether it’s providing them with our event planning and item acquisition resources, or answering the phone late on a Saturday night to go over the details again.

What were you like growing up?

I enjoyed sports and competition and looking for creative ideas to have fun lead me to being an entrepreneur.

Read the original post from VoyageChicago here

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11 Unique Venues in Denver


In Gesture’s “Fundraising in the Rockies” series, Denver Account Managers will be offering advice on location, execution, and fundraising tips for hosting an event and taking advantage of what Colorado has to offer.

There are many great venue options that incorporate the beautiful outdoors and many of Denver’s most popular attractions including museums and historical centers.

Below are 11 unique venues where Gesture charity partners have run successful events:

To learn more about Coors Field, click here. To learn more about Autism Speaks Denver, click here.



To learn more about the History Colorado Center, click here. To learn more about The International School of Denver, click here.


To learn more about the Denver Art Museum, click here. To learn more about The Community Sailing Center, click here.


To learn more about the Studios at Overland Crossing, click here. To learn more about NACE, click here.



To learn more about the Space Gallery, click here. To learn more about 2-Hearts, click here.



To learn more about CU South Denver Campus, click here. To learn more about LPS, click here.



To learn more about the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, click here. To learn more about The Montessori Academy of Colorado, click here.



To learn more about the Fillmore Auditorium, click here. To learn more about the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, click here.



To learn more about the Denver Botanic Gardens, click here. To learn more about We Don’t Waste, click here.



To learn more about Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, click here. To learn more about The Rise School of Denver, click here.



To learn more about Mile High Station, click here. Click on the organization names to learn more about Colorado Trout Unlimited, Kids in Need of Dentistry, and the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

About the Author:

Allie Scaggs has been with Gesture as an Account Manager since March of 2015. Allie mainly works with nonprofits in Colorado and has been able to travel to several events to see the venues above first-hand. She loves being at Gesture because of the meaningful work and the fun office culture.

If you’re looking for more information on hosting an event in Colorado and beyond, please reach out to an Account Executive at 888-748-2323 or

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How to Acquire a Technology Sponsor

A technology sponsor is a great way to decrease the cost of using mobile fundraising technology. However, many organizations have questions about how they can acquire such sponsorship.

What is a technology sponsorship?

A technology sponsorship is when an individual or company underwrites the cost of using mobile fundraising technology for the organization’s fundraising campaigns. This can be either a year round sponsorship or an event sponsorship.

Who should you ask to be a technology sponsor?

  • Tap into local companies that are already giving: Consider asking for sponsorships from companies that are already making an in-kind donation to your event. They already know about and believe in your cause and may have more money to spend if you are able to offer advertising opportunities!
  • Ask your board to see if they have connections that would be willing to sponsor: Many board members have personal and business relationships but they either don’t know how to ask or don’t feel comfortable. Arm your board with the resources they need to successfully inquire including information about cost and advertising placement. Then give them a central contact to direct their potential sponsors to for questions and to sign up.
  • Reach out to companies in the technology space in your area: A technology-related company may be a great fit for a technology sponsorship. Reach out to local phone and computer repair shops, electronic supply stores, and technology companies.
  • Request from vendors that service your office: Consider asking your office internet or phone provider to help with a technology sponsorship. You have an existing business relationship with them and they understand the importance of technology to help processes go more efficiently!

If you’re looking for a list of companies that offer sponsorship both locally and nationally, download Gesture’s 2017 Corporate Donation Guide here.

How do you leverage advertisements?

Most sponsors will want recognition at your event in exchange for their sponsorship. Different mobile fundraising platforms offer different advertising opportunities, but we can speak specifically to what opportunities are available with Gesture’s platform:

  • Text Message Recognition: Send text messages thanking your event sponsors including links before, during, and after the event.
  • Premium Mobile Branding: Feature sponsor logos at the top and bottom of every page as well as mixed in with the auction items.
  • Online Branding: Place a branded banner ad on the homepage of your custom site.
    Link Logos to Websites and Offer Pages: Add a link to each ad allowing guests direct access to your sponsor.
  • Logo placement at the event: Showcase your sponsor(s) on the display screen at your event.

Gesture has created a mock request letter you can use to approach sponsors about the advertisement benefits of underwriting mobile technology. You can download the letter by entering your information below!

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National NonProfit Day

National Nonprofit Day
(Quote source)

National NonProfit Day is on August 17th. At Gesture, we have worked with over 3,000 nonprofit organizations to make hope happen with our fundraising and mobile bidding technology and will have helped raise over $500 million by year’s end. We wanted to take today to share about this celebratory day, hear from our employees on why they love working with nonprofit organizations and offer some tips on how nonprofits can increase donations by leveraging this day!



Let’s begin the celebration of this significant day by touching on the history of nonprofit organizations in the United States. Although some nonprofits are thousands of years old (such as Harvard College), most charitable organizations were founded within the past 30 years2. In fact, nonprofits are the most rapidly growing organizations in the world. Nonprofit organizations differ immensely in scope and scale from other types of organizations, which makes it difficult to determine exactly what nonprofits are, what they do, and how they do it. Nonprofits can range from informal organizations without employees to multi-billion dollar foundations with thousands of employees and members. Because of the many complex and diverse nonprofits working in every community, millions of lives are touched each day. It would be challenging to find anyone who has not been influenced in some way by a nonprofit organization, whether they knew it or not.


Hear from Gesture Employees:

Since 2011, Gesture has partnered with thousands of nonprofit organizations to capture each helping hand, each friendly smile, and each round of applause by turning inspiration into action. We are motivated and energized by the work our partners do. Our Event Operations Specialist, Loretta, loves working with nonprofit organizations because:


“Partnering with our charities offers a continuing reminder that there are still people who are ready, willing and able to help those in need no matter what it takes. It’s a humbling experience to see and hear the outreach of love and sadness that exists and know somehow we’re all striving for the same goal, to Make Hope Happen one community at a time.”





How organizations can benefit:

National NonProfit Day provides a notable opportunity for organizations to advocate their cause. Here are a few tips on how to effectively increase donations and awareness by leveraging National NonProfit Day:

  1. Create a social media strategy: Many nonprofits use social media to promote their organizations because it’s an easy way for people to show support for causes close to their hearts. You should increase the amount of content shared on social media and include information about how your audience can get involved and give to your cause.
  2. Use email to send reminders and donation opportunities: Use your email list or monthly newsletter to remind your supporters that National NonProfit Day is coming up. In these emails, you should provide your audience with ways to donate and interact with your organization. You might also include a set of promotional images or graphics focused on National NonProfit Day in the digital/email reminders. Send these notices up to a month in advance as well as the weeks leading up to National NonProfit Day.
  3. Thank your audience and donors: Although the day has ended, the work isn’t done yet. It’s critical to measure any engagement your organization received in response to the day (i.e. the number of donations, views, shares, volunteers, etc.). Next, update your social media channels and email newsletter thanking your audience for their participation and reporting on how successful the campaign was.


Utilizing these tips will contribute to your success on National NonProfit Day. These suggestions will increase your donor audience and overall donations as well as provide your donors with more ways to interact with your organization in the future.



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Inc. Magazine Unveils 36th Annual List of
America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies—the Inc. 5000

Gesture Ranks No. 1423 on the 2017 Inc. 5000
with Three-Year Sales Growth of 285%


CHICAGO, August 16, 2017 – Inc. magazine today ranked Gesture, a mobile fundraising technology company, NO. 1423 on its 36th annual Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment— its independent small and midsized businesses. Companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, Pandora, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees of the Inc. 5000.

“At Gesture, our mission is to help nonprofits of all sizes fundraise for their causes and exceed their goals to help Make Hope Happen,” said Jim Alvarez, founder and CEO of Gesture. “We are extremely proud to be named on the Inc. 5000 list for the first time, as it symbolizes our leadership in the fundraising technology industry and is a testament to the dedication and hard work our team puts in day after day, year after year.

“Since our conception in 2011, we have strived to solve the challenges fundraisers face” Alvarez added. “We are innovators striving to continually improve upon how we help nonprofits reach their revenue goals by improving their donors’ experiences.”

The 2017 Inc. 5000, unveiled online at and with the top 500 companies featured in the September issue of Inc. (available on newsstands August 16) is the most competitive crop in the list’s history. The average company on the list achieved a mind-boggling three-year average growth of 481%. The Inc. 5000’s aggregate revenue is $206 billion, and the companies on the list collectively generated 619,500 jobs over the past three years. Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at

“The Inc. 5000 is the most persuasive evidence I know that the American Dream is still alive,” says Inc. President and Editor-In-Chief Eric Schurenberg. “The founders and CEOs of the Inc. 5000 tell us they think determination, risk taking, and vision were the keys to their success, and I believe them.”

The annual Inc. 5000 event honoring all the companies on the list will be held from October 10 through 12, 2017 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, CA. Speakers include some of the greatest entrepreneurs of this and past generations, such as former Ford president Alan Mullaly, FUBU CEO and founder and “Shark Tank” star Daymond John, Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin, researcher and #1 New York Times bestseller Brené Brown, and Gravity Payments’ founder and CEO Dan Price.

About Gesture:
Gesture’s mission is to “Make Hope Happen” for nonprofit organizations through use of their innovative mobile fundraising technology. Gesture’s platform is packed with tools that allow charity partners to fully manage fundraising campaigns. The intuitive products help nonprofits connect with donors on their mobile devices making it easy to give. Located in the Chicagoland area, Gesture employs a team of 70, each member dedicated to helping nonprofits achieve fundraising success.

For more information contact:
Brandon Stec
Gesture Marketing Director

More about Inc. and the Inc. 5000

The 2017 Inc. 5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2013 to 2016. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2013. They had to be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent—not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies—as of December 31, 2016. (Since then, a number of companies on the list have gone public or been acquired.) The minimum revenue required for 2013 is $100,000; the minimum for 2016 is $2 million. As always, Inc. reserves the right to decline applicants for subjective reasons. Companies on the Inc. 500 are featured in Inc.’s September issue. They represent the top tier of the Inc. 5000, which can be found at

About Inc. Media:
Founded in 1979 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures, Inc. is the only major brand dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of growing private companies, with the aim to deliver real solutions for today’s innovative company builders. Winner of the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in both 2014 and 2012. Total monthly audience reach for the brand has grown significantly from 2,000,000 in 2010 to over 18,000,000 today. For more information, visit

The Inc. 5000 is a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation. Started in 1982, this prestigious list of the nation’s most successful private companies has become the hallmark of entrepreneurial success. The Inc. 5000 Conference & Awards Ceremony is an annual event that celebrates their remarkable achievements. The event also offers informative workshops, celebrated keynote speakers, and evening functions.

For more information on Inc. and the Inc. 5000 Conference, visit

For more information contact:
Inc. Media
Drew Kerr

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7 Additional Fundraising Opportunities at your Event

Looking for ways to bring your audience excitement and increase revenue at your next fundraising event? Fixed-price opportunities of chance are a great way to do so! There are many different kinds of opportunities. Some of the more popular ones are explained below. Keep in mind that you don’t want to overwhelm your audience; pick three or less for your event, depending on your audience size.

  1. Mystery Box: This can be executed many ways to best fit the theme of your event and your audience. For example, you can gather jewelry donations from local jewelers and sell each box for a flat fee. Donors won’t learn what’s inside their box until after they purchased in to participate, adding to the element of surprise!
  2. Heads or Tails: Participants will pay a flat fee. You can either use the honor system or give each participant a pin/necklace/etc. to denote that they are a participant. There are several spots in your event program where you can incorporate this. Your guests guess whether or not the coin the auctioneer flips will come up heads or tails. If they think heads, they put their hands on their head. Tails? Their hands go on their “tail”. If they guess wrong, they sit down. Keep flipping until there is only one person remains standing, and they win a small prize!
  3. Selling Commemorative Gear:Do you have leftover shirts, bags, or other swag from previous events? Did you decide to create a special sweatshirt for your organization’s anniversary? You can sell these at your event, or pre-purchase on the site, to increase revenue and allow guests to spread awareness for your organization!
  4. Wine Pull: There are several ways to execute a wine pull, but the concept is the same. Like with the mystery box, guests will pay a flat fee for a random bottle of wine. You can partner with local liquor shops to get bottles donated in a range of values from $10 to $100. Set the price per pull and guests will have the opportunity to win a bottle in varying price ranges and types.
  5. Raffles/Opportunity Draw: Sell tickets, which give guests the opportunity to win a basket of goods or an item. You can pull the winning raffle/opportunity draw ticket at the end of the silent auction or general donation campaign when you have the attention of the whole audience!
  6. Cakewalk: Very similar to musical chairs; the game begins when the music starts and participants walk in a circle on a path of numbers. When the music stops, every participant stays on the number they are on. The person who is running the event then pulls a number from a container and determines the winner of the cakewalk! The prize is traditionally a cake, but other baked goods work as well. You can charge a fee to play the game and receive donated cakes from bakeries or volunteers to increase event revenue with a fun game!
  7. Sign-Up Party: You will need a volunteer, community, or board member that is willing to host a small party on a set date for a limited number of guests. You can then sell the “invites” to this party at a flat price. The party could include dinner, drinks, and/or an activity like a movie or dancing. Use fun party themes to encourage guests to sign-up!

Gesture’s software makes it easy for you to offer these additional fundraising opportunities at your events using the already-present technology. Contact Gesture today here to learn more about how you can streamline event processes and increase event revenue using mobile bidding and fundraising technology.

If you have any questions about any of the fundraising opportunities listed above or want to discuss other possible ideas and how best to implement them through Gesture, please reach out to your Account Manager.

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SoleMate Program

Charity Partner Feature: Girls on the Run St. Louis

What do you do when you want to combine your passion for biking and your commitment to Girls on the Run and empowering girls for a lifetime of healthy living? You do what David Pokorny is currently doing and bike from Wrigley Field in Chicago to Kauffman Stadium (“The K”) in Kansas City via Busch Stadium in St. Louis while supporting the Girls on the Run St. Louis Scholarship Program.

David is raising money through the Girls on the Run St. Louis SoleMate program, a charity athlete program that challenges parents, friends, coaches, and volunteers to raise money for Girls on the Run through their own personal athletic goals.

This ride is important to David because it shows the girls in the Girls on the Run program that you can set large goals, surround yourself with people who support you, work towards your goal, and accomplish what you set out to do.

Girls on the Run St. Louis serves 6,500 girls annually and around 75% of these participants receive some sort of scholarship in order to participate in the program. Girls on the Run St. Louis is committed to offering their program to every girl regardless of ability to pay the program fee and SoleMates, like David, ensure that this is possible. The funds that David raises as a SoleMate are crucial to helping girls in 3rd – 8th grade learn about living a healthy lifestyle and setting them up for success with a “can-do” attitude.

Last year, David rode with friends across Missouri and was able to raise $6,000. That ride inspired him to attempt something even bigger this year. For the 2017 ride, David’s goal was to raise $5,000 and sponsor two full Girls on the Run teams for the fall 2017 season. However, David has raised over $6,500 already and the ride isn’t over yet!

You can help David raise funds to support more Girls on the Run St. Louis participants by visiting his SoleMates Facebook page here and donating on the Gesture page here.

David in St. Louis

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Double Up

Gesture’s Brandon Stec collaborated with Winspire’s Ian Lauth to teach the “double up” strategy for live auctions. When you double up on auction items, you not only increase donations, but you also increase audience excitement and involvement.

What is the “double up” strategy? The “double up” strategy requires you to have two identical items, however the second item should be kept as a secret from the audience. After an intense bidding war, you end up selling the first item to the top bidder. You can then offer the second surprise item to the second-highest bidder for the same price and double your revenue on this particular item.

Watch the webinar below to learn the necessary tips and tricks to successfully double up at your next live auction!



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Paddle Raise or Mobile Giving?

Many charity partners we work with have trouble with deciding whether to use a paddle raise or mobile giving campaign to execute their event fund-the-need. The goal is, of course, to raise as much money as possible for their cause. There are several factors that should be considered when determining which method to use to gather direct donations at your event!

Factors to consider:

  1. Audience Excitement
  2. Event Size
  3. Ease and Speed
  4. Donor Base
  5. Venue/Program

The two main ways that charities collect donations during the fund-the-need portion of their event are by raising paddles and giving via a mobile web browser. While the paddle raise is traditional and has been working for years to help charities raise funds during their fund-the-need, mobile methods have become more and more popular.

The paddle raise method usually requires the auctioneer to ask for donations at different amounts from the crowd and donors will raise bid numbers to commit to giving at that certain level. The highest donation level should be something that at least one donor is guaranteed to give and the lowest recommended donation level traditionally is no less than $100.

There are two ways to implement mobile giving: text to give and fund the need with mobile support. Mobile giving allows users to donate using their phone. Usually, an auctioneer will lead this portion of the program and ask donors to give at the same levels as with the paddle raise, but instead of raising their number and needing to process payments after, donors can give instantly via phone. This also allows you to show the total donation amount in front of the crowd on a digital display and can help the auctioneer encourage donations as you get closer and closer to various “mile markers”.

Audience Excitement:

  • Paddle Raise: The paddle raise is a great way to harness audience excitement at the event because donors can see who is giving and the bandwagon effect encourages them to donate as well, at any amount.
  • Mobile Giving: Similar to texting to give, mobile giving allows for the charity to show real time donation data to increase audience excitement as the numbers raise. Some platforms, like Gesture, will even be able to display donor names on the screen showing who is giving, similar to a paddle raise, and allows for customized images rather than the typical thermometer.

Event Size:

  • Paddle Raise: Volunteers are required to jot down the donor numbers and amounts to ensure accurate donation counts and correctly process payments at checkout. Because of this, it’s not recommended to use the paddle raise if your event has over 500 attendees.  
  • Mobile Giving: This method is great for any event size because of the simplicity. Donors can enter their credit card information on their mobile device and don’t need to checkout with a volunteer at the end. Gesture can provide Gesture Pros based on the number of guests to ensure you are properly staffed in case some donors need help registering or entering their information.

Ease and Speed:

  • Paddle Raise: It’s hard to track the total as more and more donors agree to give and requires a lengthier checkout process.
  • Mobile bidding: Guests register, enter credit card information, donate, and checkout from their phone making the process of giving simple and seamless. Adding this to your program will still get you the experience of the paddle raise without the need to collect donations using pen and paper and process payments after the event.

Donor Base:

  • Paddle Raise: Long-time donors may feel more comfortable with a paddle raise as it is more traditional. However, with a paddle raise, only donors who are present at the event can give.
  • Mobile Giving: Younger donors will feel more comfortable giving using their mobile device, and long-time donors can receive help from event volunteers and Gesture staff members who are there to help register, bid, and aid in any other way possible. Donors can also give remotely if they are unable to attend the event! Mobile giving can also be utilized as more of a ‘soft ask’; donors are prompted to donate but there does not need to be any added pressure pressure.

Venue Layout:

  • Paddle Raise: A paddle raise will work best in a space where guests are seated for the donation campaign and the auctioneer can clearly see their bidder number.
  • Mobile Giving: This method works great when the event is more of a cocktail party style, without a formal program or seated dinner. Donors are able to continue mingling without needing to be gathered in one area.

Event Program:

  • Both types do best when the campaign is kicked off by some form of testimonial or introduction to the campaign explaining exactly what the donors’ generous donations will be benefitting. Some ways our partners have done this in the past is by creating a video montage summing up the past year’s accomplishments and an explanation of what is still needed, a testimonial from a person who was directly impacted by the work of the organization, or by having some influential voice/figure in the community who can express the need for donated funds give a short speech.




Paddle Raise:

  • If sponsors are paying a certain amount for their table or other event benefits, ask them to instead donate during the fund-the-need section of your program instead of pay beforehand. Because this is usually a larger donation, it inspires other donors to give at that same level.
  • Have two separate volunteers recording bidder numbers and donation amounts to ensure that everything is accurate to make checkout as smooth a process as possible.
  • Try to ensure that there is at least one donor at the highest level that is read aloud. This kicks off the momentum of the campaign and helps avoid an awkward moment. You can even plant someone in the audience to make that donation and remove the charge from their account at a later time.

Mobile Giving:

  • Have volunteers placed around the room so that if anyone needs help with the process, they can be attended to in a timely manner. Gesture staff also provides this service as part of the on-site staffing package.
  • Ask your third-party provider about customizing the keyword donors will text to match your charity so that it is easy to remember!


If you have any questions about which method would be best for your organization and event, please reach out to your Account Manager or contact us we will be able to offer more advice.


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How to: Staff Different Elements of your Event

You’ve been planning a major event for your organization for the past year, and as the event date is nearing, you’re getting nervous about executing everything from item procurement to checkout utilizing just yourself and the other planning committee members. You begin to realize that because of the size of your event and the number of tasks you will need done, you’ll need to bring on event staff or volunteers to help make the event a success. How do you go about finding and training the right people, and how do you ensure that everything is set up in a way that makes it easiest for the staff? What is the best way to go about managing the staff before, at, and after the event? 

Gesture Account Managers receive questions like these each and every day. Below, we’ve compiled some information and tips from our Account Managers on how to best staff different components of your event so that you can worry about the big picture:

Before your Event:

Many event chairs will utilize their volunteer network to create committees before the event to manage aspects related to finding sponsorships, increasing event attendance, and procuring auction items.


Event sponsors are a great way to offset the costs of hosting an event. You can ask sponsors to help with your event technology, consignment travel items, and much more. It’s important to recognize your event sponsors somewhere at the event, either in the program, on signage, or during the spoken remarks.

Traits that will help volunteers gather sponsorships: professionalism, effective communication, outgoing personality


What better way to increase event attendance than by encouraging volunteers and board members to share about the event on social media and invite their friends? You can either require that each volunteer receive a set number of committed attendees, or you can create a competition to challenge the volunteers to see who can bring the most people!

Traits that will help volunteers increase event attendance: social media savvy, approachable, driven 

Auction Item Procurement:

It’s impossible to have an auction without items! Auction item acquisition is one of the hardest aspects of planning an event, so designating a volunteer committee to take care of this is a great way to focus on the big picture.

Traits that will help volunteers acquire items: organization, creativity, cordial

Event Set up:

While the committees above will start planning months in advance, the event set up committee will only need to be available in the days before the event. This would be a great role for someone who can’t dedicate a lot of time to volunteering, but still wants to be involved.

Skills/traits that will aid someone with event set up: can-do attitude, teamwork, problem solving


During your Event:

You’ve been planning the event behind the scenes for months, but there’s still so much to be done on the night of your event. You’ll need several volunteers or staff to aid with check in, the auctions and raffles, instant buy merchandise, and checkout.

Check in:

Check in can range in complexity from saying “welcome” to guests and showing them to the event space, to collecting credit card information and giving donors pre-assigned table and bidder numbers. You can either use volunteers to aid with event check in or use a company like Gesture that provides trained staff members to help with the more complex aspects of check in, like collecting pertinent information and ensuring that donors are in the system.

Silent and Live Auctions:

Both auctions require volunteers or staff to help donors bid, keep a watchful eye on the items, and answer any questions that may come up. Using a company like Gesture will allow you to place your volunteers in other roles and the Gesture Pros will handle the aspects of bidding.


Offering raffle or instant-buy items at your event? One of the best ways to execute a raffle is to have volunteers walking around the event space with tickets. You can even tie a balloon to the raffle basket so they are always visible from anywhere in the room! For instant-buy items offered at a fixed price, like merchandise or commemorative gear, staff a table with volunteers and minimize the risk of having cash on hand is by using a company like Gesture where guests can purchase the merchandise using their phones.


Checkout is most efficient when you use a combination of staff members and volunteers. Gesture works with your volunteers seamlessly to shorten lines and increase donor happiness. After the auction closes, donors will be sent a link to pay on their phone and then they can pick up their items with the volunteers. Donors can also checkout with a Gesture staff member and then receive their items. Gesture is able to process all of the payments before the event is over, leaving you to not worry about receiving all of the funds you raised!


After your Event:

Clean up:

After all is said and done and the donors have left the dance floor, you’ll need a group of volunteers or staff members to help with cleaning up and breaking down the event. They will need to pack up any unclaimed auction items, take down event decor, and clean the space. Often, events run late into the night. Treat your clean up crew to some late night pizza to show your appreciation for their dedication!


Example: PAWS Chicago Beach Party

Gesture worked with PAWS Chicago and their 100 volunteers to seamlessly execute an event for 500 attendees. Here is a breakdown of how PAWS Chicago utilized some of their volunteers and Gesture staff members:

Gesture provided 10 Pros for the event, and the Pros were able to move between different tasks to make the most out of the number of people available. For example, two of the four people that helped with the live auction also helped with the fund the need. PAWS Chicago also made great use of their volunteers by using some of the auction item acquisition committee members as volunteers for the silent auction table.

PAWS Beach Party

Image Credit: PAWS Chicago

Each event is different, and that’s why our Gesture Account Managers are experts in making the most out of the staff and volunteers you have available. If you’re looking for staffing solutions for your auction or more information about what Gesture does, get in touch with us here.

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6 Tips for Texting Donors

Text messaging is a great way to reach your donors where they are most active: on their phones. Below are some tips on how to utilize text messaging during your fundraising event to increase donations.

  1. Keep your Messages Short and Simple: You don’t want donors to take their attention away from your carefully planned program to read your text message; make it short and easy to read so that your donor can spend just a few seconds reading and your message will be properly conveyed.
  2. Have a Call-to-Action: In your messaging, tell your donors what you want them to do and make it easy for them to complete that action by including a link. Most of your donors will have cell phones, so accessing a link on their phone will be simple and lead them to your pre-prepared web material.
  3. Create Urgency/FOMO: Compel your donors to do what you are asking them to do by utilizing the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) technique. Giving something an expiration date or time increases the urgency on the end of the donors.
  4.  Timing is Everything: Create a communications plan for the event and dedicate a volunteer to execute this plan. No matter the amount of planning behind an event, the timing will deviate so having a person send the messages instead of using an automated program will ensure the messages are delivered at the right time! (If utilizing Gesture, our on-site team helps in the execution of this plan and already has text message templates ready for you to use).
  5. Send Meaningful Content: You don’t want your donors to think that your messages are spam and want to unsubscribe because they are annoyed. Make sure that you are sending content that is relevant and useful to them. For example, it matters to each attendee that the silent auction is closing at 10:30 pm, but it may not matter to everyone that Jimmy Gesture is the winner of the rock climbing package item.
  6. Give Donors a Way to Give: If you are using text messaging to reach donors, donors should be able to give using their phone. Whether you use text-to-give, a mobile friendly donation site, or an app, the ultimate call to action of each message should be for the donor to make a donation to your organization. The easier you make it to give, the more likely you will receive donations!

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The Best Silent Auction Items


The best silent auction items are those that are unique, creative, interesting, and often can’t be easily purchased. These types of items are sure to draw lots of attention and frequent bids, increasing the overall revenue from your event. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the theoretical auction box, your donors will be more intrigued to bid on an item they haven’t seen at an auction previously!

A great silent auction line-up should read like a bucket list: once in a lifetime experiences that everyone loves and can’t pass up. Most of the items below are packages; packages are a great way to increase the percentage of fair market value you receive, and therefore increase revenue!

Below are some popular bucket list items and how you can re-purpose these as items in your auction.


Bucket List Item: Skydiving
Auction Item: Dive and Dine Package

Blow your donors away with an amazing package to conquer a fear or experience something completely different. This package could include transportation to and from the skydiving site, custom “I WENT SKYDIVING!” shirts with your organization’s name and logo on the back, photos and video from the dive, and lunch or dinner at a local restaurant for after the big jump.


Bucket List Item: Eat at a Michelin Star Restaurant
Auction Item: Local Cooking Class

Spice up the auction with a cooking class! This will allow donors to learn how to make a new dish or explore a new cuisine. You could either purchase two entries to any class or talk to a local culinary school about hosting a private class and sell 10-20 tickets so that multiple event attendees can participate in the bidding and the class. A neat extra would be to include custom aprons to wear to the class and cooking at home!


Bucket List Item: Run a Marathon
Auction Item: Themed 5K

Many people have the aspiration to eventually conquer a full or half marathon, but everyone needs to start somewhere! Offer entry to a fun themed 5K and package the race entry with a training plan and a gift card to a local sports store so that the winner can purchase new gear. Donors will be running to the table to check out this great package that promotes both fun and healthy living!


Bucket List Item: Eat Pizza from Italy
Auction Item: Pizza Tour of your City

Your donors may not be able to travel to Italy to try authentic pizza, but you can offer them a taste of that trip with gift certificates to the top pizza restaurants in your city! Try to get donations from at least four restaurants so that your donors have the opportunity to sample different pizzas. You can even create two different packages: one with 4-6 restaurants and another with 6-10 restaurants to capture the attention of different levels of donors.


Bucket List Item: Ride in a Fire Truck
Auction Item: Firefighter for an Afternoon

While most adults don’t have this on their bucket list, you would be hard-pressed to find a kid that didn’t want to ride in a fire truck or police car. Speak with your local law-enforcement department about offering a ride in one of their vehicles and a tour of the station as a silent auction item. Have the fire truck pick up the kids from school and meet them at the station for a tour and meet and greet with the firefighters!


These are only a few ideas of some great silent or live auction items — there are many more out there! If you’re feeling stuck, here’s a tip: ask some of your friends and family about the best or most memorable auction item they’ve purchased in the past, or what they would love to see at an auction.

Don’t forget to be creative and think outside the box and you will be sure to increase auction revenue at your next event!

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