After 20-plus years as a Professional Benefit Auctioneer, I’ve seen charities and organizations make plenty of mistakes when it comes to the Live Auction portion of their fundraising event. Here’s one of the biggest:
Charities or organizations intentionally decide to have items in their live auction which they feel all attendees can afford.
You know the drill – putting three or four items up for bid, in the live auction, that will meet everyone’s price point. By doing this you probably feel better because now everyone can participate in the excitement and have the chance to take something home at the end of the night.
This sure sounds like a great idea. The problem is – come Monday morning – your bottom line will suffer.
You must remember, it takes as much time, effort and energy to auction low priced items as it does more expensive items – and for less money.
Here’s a great example –
You have a trip valued at $3,000 – $5,000 vs. an item in the $20,000 – $25,000 range. Even if the trip would get the top bid of $5,000 – the charity leaves potentially $20,000 on the table. Add that up three to four times during a live auction and you begin to see my point.
(For the record, at your event the “affordable items” may be $300-$500 with the “expensive items” going for $2,000. The percentages are still the same as will be your feelings on Monday morning following the auction.)
So, my recommendation is to put the high priced items in the live auction and place the lower to mid-priced donated items in the silent auction. This is a great way to appease your guests without deep pockets and get them involved.
Another way is to make sure the live auction is lively! Just because a guest is not a bidder doesn’t mean they can’t have fun cheering on the bidders and watching the action.
Time is money. So invest your Live Auction time wisely.