A number of organizations recognize the need to include activities which will draw a younger population into their fundraisers.
Many of the auction galas I work have a silent auction item ideas population in the age range of 40+. Some galas skew much older. (As I think about the auctions we conducted last year, the one exception is a church benefit auction in which everyone in the audience was 18 – 30 years old.)
Although there are many reasons to host a fundraising auction, the primary reason is often for financial support. You will raise the most money if you have an audience filled with guests who understand your mission and have the financial means to support it.
As many people reach their prime income earning years between 45 to 54, it only makes sense that gala auctions often find their guests to be “of a certain age.” Some guests in that age range are also in a mindset in which they are ready to start ‘giving back’ to their community more readily, either through financial support or volunteer hours. (Non-profits like both!) It wouldn’t usually make sense to target professionals in their 20’s and 30’s to attend because that crowd would be less likely to buy a ticket, and even more unlikely to significantly add dollars to your bottom line.
That said, what about cultivating your audience? Someday those 20 and 30 year olds will be in a position to give. You’ll want to be the organization they think of first.
A number of galas (primarily the larger ones) incorporate a Young Professionals (YP) tier into their ticket pricing. There are many names for this tier (e.g. Young Professionals, Young Benefactors, Young Supporters), so select a title which fits your style.
The YP’s reduced ticket price can include the entire event, or a portion of the evening’s activities (such as the reception and silent auction, or the entertainment and after-party with dessert bar).
Guests purchasing at that level must be younger than a certain age (30 to 40 seems to be common), or even be already be active in the non-profit’s regular YP club. (Some non-profits organize regular activities for this set, with the auction gala becoming one of those monthly activities.)
If your auction committee wants to try this, I encourage you to ask one or two of those YPs to help on your auction committee and solicit their input. Not only will they offer a fresh perspective to your planning, but their involvement will encourage other YPs to get involved and/or attend the event, too.