2 November 2017
Yesterday I launched Stonemaier Games’ annual charity auction, and it has already raised about $9,450 for 10 different charities. The generosity of the 10 currently winning bidders–and all bidders–is staggering.
The way our annual charity auction works is that I pick a special, timely Stonemaier product–in this case, an early signed copy of Charterstone enhanced by the recharge pack, Top Shelf realistic resources, and Meeplesource meeples–and pair 1 of them with 10 different tabletop bloggers, podcasters, and video creators whom I admire and follow.
The winning bid for each auction item (say, $400) is doubled by Stonemaier (total of $800) for a donation made to a charity of the content creator’s choice. If you can’t place a bid, you can still “thumb” your favorite participating content creators, because the creator with the most thumbs also gets an early copy of Charterstone to review for their adoring audience.
The intent is not just to raise money for good causes, but also share some great content creators with the gaming community. It’s one of my favorite things that we do.
However, over the last few years there’s always been a few people who tell me that they with they could participate in the auction, but they don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on a game. I remind them that they can still thumb the content creators, share the auction, or make smaller donations directly to the various charities, but I understand that those options don’t make people feel as engaged as active bidders.
So while this is fresh on my mind, I thought I’d mention a few options to see if I can find an appealing solution for 2018 without changing the core of the charity auction (because, honestly, it works really well).
- Donation: Perhaps we could set up a way for people to publicly donate small amounts to the auction charities, with Stonemaier matching those donations. I think this would be difficult to track and manage.
- Raffle: In addition to the 10 auction items, people would have the option to spend $10 through the Stonemaier website on a raffle ticket, with the winner of the raffle would receive an 11th auction item. All raffle proceeds would go to a charity selected by someone (me?), and maybe Stonemaier would match it as well. While I think this idea has potential, I would say it’s my least favorite proposal, because it undermines the generosity of those paying $400+ for the same auction item. I don’t know the legality of this kind of raffle (non-profits can get away from it, but we’re not a non-profit), and BoardGameGeek may have rules against it. Also, I want to separate the idea that this auction is about getting a “good deal” on a game. I actually made a point of highlighting that in a related post in the Charterstone Facebook group yesterday.
- Purchase: For this year’s auction, two elements are the realistic resources from Top Shelf Gamer and the custom meeples from Meeplesource. It’s likely our partners will have related products like this in the future. What if people could purchase those items during the 5 days of the auction at a slightly higher price than normal (say, $15 instead of $10), with the extra money being matched by Stonemaier and going to a charity of the retailer’s choice? I like this a lot, as it avoids the raffle problems. The one big concern I have is that we’d probably need various retailers for these products in different regions so non-US customers can participate.
- Other: I’m open to your ideas. The goal is to allow people to financially participate in the auction at smaller dollar amounts than the typical winning bid without undermining the generosity of people who are spending $400+. A big constraint is that I’m definitely not looking to directly ship out hundreds of items–I’ve moved away from managing fulfillment.
Let me know what you think! Do you like any of those ideas, or do you have another idea? Feel free to check out the auction to have some context for this discussion.