Danny Hooper Productions

The hot potato potbelly pig

I’m the first to admit that even my best ideas backfire from time to time. Take, for example, my Wildcard Auction. I came up with this idea years ago after hearing countless people tell me at the end of auction events that they would have been happy to make a donation, but NOBODY ASKED. Hmmm…what if I tossed a couple of neon-coloured index cards on each table at my next charity auction and invited guests to make donations on-the-spot (while they’re caught up in the excitement of the moment)?

The results were insane. Like $46,500 insane! Since its introduction at the Spruce Grove Rotary Auction way back when, the Wildcard Auction has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for countless non-profit organizations. And that’s probably a low estimate.

You typically see things like tickets to sporting events or concerts, the use of private vacation properties, cooking lessons, that sort of thing. But last week was the first time I’ve had somebody donate a…potbelly pig!

Never one to shy from a challenge, I introduced this Wildcard donation with the same gusto and bravado I would an all expense-paid trip to Mars with potato farmer Matt Damon, or a Lion Safari personally guided by Siegfried & Roy. But my salesmanship failed to motivate all but one bidder, an empathetic supporter of the cause who, I admit, reluctantly raised his hand at an ask of $100. And that was it. What now I wondered?

And that’s when nearly 30 years of experience as a fundraising auctioneer kicked in.

“I have an idea,” I said, looking at the fidgety fellow who doubtless was already wondering how to back out of this mess. “Why don’t you gift the potbelly pig to somebody in this room, and if he or she wants to regift it, they can do so by making a $100 donation to this evening’s charity.”

Well if you’ve ever wondered if pigs can fly, this little potbelly porker was re-gifted 20 times in two minutes, raising a total of $2,000 for the cause, and giving every single guest a good belly laugh, albeit at the poor little potbelly’s expense.