6 Must-Read Books About Benefit Events

In the uncertainty of the pandemic, now is a good time to brush up on your reading about best practices for benefit events.

Whether you are considering a virtual event or simply want to optimize your in-person gala for once it is safe to do so, it is always helpful to take a word from the pros.

Here are six of the most influential benefit auction books, written by auctioneers and other industry insiders. These folks live the benefit auction world day in and day out and know what works (and what doesn’t!).

Forget All You Used to Know About Fundraising Events

Larry Zucker

Forget All You Used to Know About Fundraising Events deals with alternate revenue streams to physical fundraising events to maintain needed revenue stream during and post pandemic. It also provides the necessary alterations to physical events when they once again take place.

Learn about virtual events, Charitybuzz, Prizeo, Omaze, Auction Cause, Dream House Raffle, peer fundraising and more. Explore all the revenue streams of galas from underwriting to sponsorships to journal advertisements. Improve your donation appeals, silent auctions, live auctions and attendance.

Zucker’s first book, Uncover the Secrets of Charity Fundraising Events was named #16 of “44 Best Charity Books of All Time” by BookAuthority in 2019.

The Big Book of Benefit Auctions

Jay R. Fiske and Corinne A. Fiske

The Big Book of Benefit Auctions is the ultimate step-by-step handbook on how to plan and have a successful and effective auction. Auction committees will find it an invaluable reference as it provides all the tools they will need for complete auction planning and management.

From setting the goal for the event, to organizing the committee, procuring auction items, building the audience, preparing the catalog and through auction night cashiering (check out) services, everything you will want to know about the auction process is readily at your fingertips in this resource guide.

The book will not only contain important “how to” information, it will also explain why some decisions and activities are not only good practices, they are essential to having a well-run and efficient event. Also, the book will discuss important strategies for maximizing revenue at your event, and will cover common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

A Higher Bid: How to Transform Special Event Fundraising with Strategic Auctions

Kathy Kingston

A Higher Bid is the nonprofit school and organization guide to planning and executing more exciting, more lucrative special event fundraisers. In this book, award-winning consultant, fundraiser, speaker, and professional auctioneer Kathy Kingston shares her proprietary and proven approaches to audience development, board empowerment, leadership succession, guest cultivation and engagement, and donor development.

You’ll learn how live auctions, special appeals, innovative icebreakers, silent auctions, and new technologies can help increase revenue, and how to execute these events in a way that translates to a stronger donor base for long-term giving. Kingston describes how to match the guest list and catalog for better results, and reveals the strategies professional auctioneers use to curate the right auction items and discover the right people to generate optimum revenue and engage donors.

This book offers a fresh approach to fundraising, showing you how charity benefit auctions can be made a centerpiece of fundraising special events to drive both short- and long-term fundraising goals while providing a fun and inspiring opportunity to generate awareness and keep supporters excited about the mission. Using Kingston’s proven framework, you’ll learn effective ways to:

  • Strategically increase high-profit revenue streams
  • Increase your organization’s donor base
  • Empower the board toward efficiency and productivity
  • Engage supporters more deeply and keep them invested

Donors are the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization, and sustainable revenue depends upon their high engagement and willingness to give. Well-executed benefit and charity auctions have proven to be effective fundraisers for nonprofits, associations, and schools of all types, and A Higher Bid is the expert guide to optimizing these special events for maximum impact.

Uncover the Secrets of Charity Fundraising Events

Larry Zucker

Uncover the Secrets of Charity Fundraising Events was named #16 in “44 Best Charity Book All Time” by Book Authority 2019. The most comprehensive book ever written on charity fundraising events. Learn the secrets of how to create successful charity auctions, galas and other fundraising events from one of the nation’s top event producers.Celebrities, technology, underwriting, sponsorships, auction item solicitation, research, attendance, auctioneering, revenue streams and so much more.

Benefit Auctions: A Fresh Formula for Grassroots Fundraising

Sandy Bradley

In a climate in which community services funding is more and more scarce and the causes are getting more and more urgent, grassroots fundraising is the brightest light at the end of the tunnel. The easiest grassroots fundraiser is a benefit auction, and this book offers tried-and-true methods for putting on a wildly successful event.

In this comprehensive, step-by-step guide, author Sandy Bradley draws on her many years of experience as an organizer and auctioneer for nonprofits and arts organizations.

Beneath the Gavel: A Charity Auctioneer’s Complete Guide to Fundraising

Doug Sorrell

Non-profits and charity auctioneers alike can benefit from Sorrell’s thirty-year experience in charity auction fundraising. His book, Beneath The Gavel, covers in depth the key to success from start to finish including committee goals, silent and live auction strategy, and funding plea secrets. This is an opportunity to gain important lessons and ideas to insure your gala fundraising goals.

More about the author and testimonials from his work with non-profits at www.dougsorrell.com


Al McDonald is the Chief Product Officer for TravelPledge and author of the e-book “The Definitive Guide to Silent Auction Fundraisers.” Al has helped thousands of nonprofits exceed their auction goals through auction item procurement and advice. Al understands that successful auctions are hard work and is committed to delivering practical advice that will move the needle for you today.