As a non-profit executive, former development officer and customer strategy professional, I think Seth Godin nails this one.
He personally did the opposite of this in his successful effort to help end malaria in Africa. Check out the blog to see the end of the story. Well worth the read.
1,500 pair of shoes were made based on the futuristic sneakers he wore in the original Back to the Future movie. So far, typical bids are around $4,000 a pair, and it’s certainly going to go up as the auction goes on. Figure they’ll raise $10,000,000, easily. Good for them.
The interesting lesson for me is that this fundraiser is 100% about the shoes. The charity is an asterisk. This is a branding and nostalgia exercise, with the opportunity for resale at a profit thrown in as a bonus. Tote bag marketing, without a doubt. The lesson for fundraisers everywhere is: if you have something like a celebrity shoe or a signed Chuck Close painting to sell, you should definitely go do that. The ends are fabulous, and there’s nothing wrong with the means to get there.