I’ve always said a successful fundraising event is a team effort. It takes months of pre-planning and an excellent committee and volunteer staff to pull all the pieces together. Having each individual member know the exact role they will be playing during the event is crucial to its flawless execution.
The Event Chair and his or her committee and volunteers have an advantage over a Professional Auctioneer, such as myself, who does not live in their particular city. They know the key players and the main donors that will be attending.
Since I am the out-of-towner, some Event Chairs and Board Members may consider it a disadvantage to their fundraising efforts if they hire me as their Professional Auctioneer since, in some cases, I’ve never practiced my craft of auctioneering for them before. They feel I won’t know their audience.
Although it’s an initial legitimate concern, the fact is the “not knowing their VIPs” can be easily overcome. It’s just a matter of four easy steps:
- Create an attendee yearbook
- Facilitate some warm introductions
- Generate a roster of bidders
- Produce informative bidding paddles
Let me start with the first…the yearbook.
We are all familiar with them – especially from our high school days. There’s a picture – a name under the picture – and a brief description about the person. The attendee yearbook, which should only identify key people and major donors, can follow the same basic format.
Weeks prior to an event, have a staff member put the yearbook together. There should be a picture of the person or couple that will be attending. Alongside the photo should be their name, a few facts about them that’s common knowledge within the community and their likes and dislikes. If no photo exists of the person or couple – go to Google Images. You’ll likely find a photo there.
This is where the Event Chair or Co-Chair, Board Members, and key staff members play an important role. One of their tasks should be to seek out the VIP attendees, since they are familiar with who they are, and then bring those key donors to me so introductions can be made and a brief conversation had.
I might not remember everyone’s name at this point – but I definitely can remember a face.
And that brings us to our third step…
Generating a roster of bidders
This should be presented to me in two printed forms – Alphabetical Order and Numerical Order.
The roster in alphabetical order obviously refers to the attendee’s name. And, along with their name should be their table number and their bid number. This will help greatly when I’m seeking out a specific person.
The roster in numerical order refers to their bid number. This is a fast way for me to refer to the bidder directly by name. Nothing sounds sweeter to someone than their name being recognized for something good.
And that brings us to the final step –
Personalizing bidding paddles
As you probably already know, the paddles should have the attendee’s bid number on both sides of the paddle – and large enough so it’s easy to read from a distance. But I also recommend the paddles contain one more thing – the bidder’s name. The name should not be as large as the bid number, but it should appear on both sides just like the number.
These 4 easy steps will help pave the way to a successful fundraiser. It all goes back to the “Personal Touch.”
As I’ve said many times before – the more personal connection your donor has to the charity and its event – the more money they are willing to donate.
Helping your auctioneer know your major attendees by name, through face-to-face introductions and printed yearbooks and rosters and informative bidding paddles, will help accomplish just that.
What are some other ways in which you’ve helped your auctioneer become more familiar with your key attendees? I’d love to hear your ideas. Add a comment below. ↘