One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is; “What sells best at a fundraising auction? We’re looking at consignment companies and want to pick items that are going to sell really well to our audience.”
My answer is always the same. “It really depends on your attendees and the people you’re going to sell the items to.”
National trends, such as trips, don’t really help because they are specific to those who want to go. For instance, if it’s a trip to Hawaii and bidders have never been there they probably would love the opportunity. But if they have already been there on numerous occasions and don’t really care if they go back, they are more likely to bid on a trip to a different destination.
What was the number one selling auction item in 2015? Good tickets to see Taylor Swift. What are the hot trending items in 2016? The Broadway Musical Hamilton, Ticket to see an Adele concert and Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. What do all these items have in common…..scarcity and demand.
Here’s what I recommend you do. Ask your guests what kind of items they’d like to see. But be sure the attendees who you direct that question to will actually spend money at the auction. If someone suggests a trip to Ireland, but has no intention of bidding on the trip, don’t listen to them. It’s a waste of a your time and energy.
The people you do want to ask are those that have the financial resources and have historically been some of the best bidders and supporters of the charity over the years.
And don’t ask open-ended questions. They are too broad.
Rather than ask; “What kind of trips would you like to see in this year’s auction?”, be more specific. “If you had the opportunity to go, would you be more interested in a trip to Ireland, Italy, Greece or somewhere else?” That will get the conversation going. In fact, they might even give a clue where they’d like to go. “Those sound good, but I’ve always wanted to go to Mazatlan, Mexico to go sport fishing.” Bingo. Now you’re onto something.
A follow up question could be, “Does that sound like a $10,000 trip to you?” Their response will give you the opportunity to gauge what you might expect to raise during the live auction.
Here are two additional questions you can ask.
“Is there anything you’ve seen at another auction that really interested you – because we really want auction items that will resonate with our guest?”
“Do you know of someone attending that has something on their bucket list – something that we might be able to offer them? When have great resources we are simply trying to find the best items for our attendees”.
The bottom line is, when you’re selecting items for your live auction, do your homework. Don’t just pick an item and hope that it will sell well. Know going into it you believe it will sell well and you have the people to back that up and will have interest in it.
So, reject items that will merely take up space and present only items that will sell and that match your clientele. And don’t be afraid to ask the important questions to make that happen. That’s the #1 job when you’re producing a live auction.
What to learn more about how to best work with auction consignment companies and which companies you can trust? Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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