Fundraising Auctioneer - Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Archive for July, 2012

Fundraising auctions have many “moving parts”. From recruiting and scheduling volunteers to making sure there is a clean-up committee there is many details critical to success of the event and reduces the stress level of the auction committee. Auction chairman often become overwhelmed and all the fun goes away as the event draws near. One simple solution is to developing a serious of checklists for all tasks needed for success.

Every pilot, regardless of experience, goes through a written checklist each and every time before taking their plane off the ground. All aviation checklists have similar features but are created by the designers of the aircraft specifically for the make and model of the plane. Likewise benefit auctions all have similar components as well as many details that are unique to the particular event.

As I deal with a great many auction committees, the common comment I hear when checklists are mentioned “Scott a checklist sounds like a great idea but we simply do not have time to make them”. Of course, they are saying this while their cell phone is ringing with people with questions and volunteers running up asking what they should do next. Most of these items could be communicated with a simple checklist that all parties can understand.

How to make a checklist. Open a document on your computer, on the tool bar find the logo for bullets, click on the arrow beside said logo, select the open square bullet, and make a list of tasks. It is truly this simple.

Checklist can be revised as needed, just make sure to place the date of the revision at the top of the page so everyone involved is working from the correct checklist.

Each committee and operation should have their own check list. Some of these checklists may include decorations, sound and lighting, silent auction, live auction, setup, cleanup, registration, checkout, etc. Using different colored sheets of paper will further help to identify the various committees’ checklists. When the checklist has all the items “checked off” the list is delivered to the person in charge of logistics for the night and checked off their list as completed.

The single largest criticism of any event from volunteers is “I felt stupid because I did not know what tasks I was supposed to perform”. The best compliment an attendee can provide (aside from “wow, Scott Robertson is the best fundraising auctioneer I have ever seen”) is “this is such a great event…the attention to detail was fantastic”. Both issues can be solved with checklists

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages to checklists is that after they are created for the first time, they can be simply being revised each year and used again. “Never reinvent the wheel, just tweak it to make it roll easier”

Sunday Fund-Day

Posted by Scott On July 18th

Here’s a question for you.  When do seven days turn into 5 months? The answer: When you write a blog about days of the week. Beginning in February, and in separate blogs, I revealed the advantages of conducting a fundraising event on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  Well, we finally made it to the end of the week – Sunday.

I have to admit, Sundays are a different animal when compared to other days of the week.  You have to start earlier and end earlier.  I like beginning at 3 and making sure guests are heading back home by 8 – before it gets dark.  After all, they have things to do in preparation for the upcoming work week.

Due to the fact you’re starting your event mid-afternoon, don’t be afraid to hold it outside, but have a contingency plan for the inside at the same venue in case of uncooperative weather.

A Sunday event should also be a less formal occasion.  Casual dress is welcome.  So are women with big floppy hats.  It all adds to the relaxed environment.

A more casual setting also means the food can be of “lighter fare.” And don’t be surprised if you end up with a wider age group than you are normally used to.

Now, here’s the biggest surprise when it comes to Sunday afternoon to early evening events.  Through my 20-plus years of being a professional benefit auctioneer, I’ve discovered the guests who attend a Sunday Fund-Day are more focused on fundraising.

That’s right.  So start by 3 and end by 8.  Keep the event fun.  Hold it outside if at all possible. And expect guests in all age groups.  You’ll soon discover the best way to raise money and awareness is by planning a “Sunday Drive.”

Thank You. It’s in the Cards!

Posted by Scott On July 11th

Thank You.  It’s in the Cards!  I appreciate technology as much as the next guy.  Computers are fantastic and email is a fast and convenient way to communicate with family, friends and business associates.  But an acquaintance of mine once said, “Technology is great, but a cold tool in comparison to conversation or a hand-written note.” I couldn’t agree more.

Months ago I wrote a blog about saying Thank You to the guests as they departed an event.  I also mentioned that a Thank You phone call to the key players was also vital in maintaining a positive relationship with those that impacted your bottom line. Prime donors want to know their generosity was appreciated.

And that brings us to Thank You Cards.

Saying thank you at the conclusion of an event and by a phone call days after the event is only the first step you should take.  Also follow up with personal thank you cards to those prime donors and be sure to include your logo on the card stock.

The hand-written portion need not be long – just heartfelt. Including a photograph of the donor at the event is a great touch.  So, during the event point out the likely “suspects” to your cameraman to assure you have a photo of the donor at the fundraiser.  The cocktail hour or silent auction are perfect times to snap the shot since it’s simple and less intrusive than during the actual bidding in the live auction.

Timing is everything.  Be sure to send the cards out quickly, preferably before the donor attends another event.  This can be done by dividing up the duties of the cards to key staff in your organization.  Remember, many hands make light work.

Finally, be sure to write, “We look forward to seeing you at next year’s event.” And include the date of that event on the card.

It’s like double marketing.  You are sending a Thank You Card and a preliminary Invitation at the same time.