In my last blog I wrote about my need to stay totally focused – and on message – during the live auction portion of a fundraising event.
In an effort to accomplish this, I discussed the advantages of having just one, dedicated, cool-headed person responsible for gathering the messages that need to reach me, writing them down on a sticky note, and placing the message on my auction binder so I can read them to myself upon returning to the podium.
This helps me stay focused on the mission of raising money and keeps the momentum of the live auction moving forward at a comfortable pace.
That which I just described is a controllable situation that can be easily handled. However, during the course of a live auction there will be uncontrollable and unexpected situations that arise – and they usually occur when a drinking guest interrupts the flow of the live auction by presenting what he or she believes is a “great idea.”
So, what’s an auctioneer to do?
Well, to be totally honest, this is where experience comes into play, although there is no easy answer.
Here’s the main problem. If someone, who has been drinking, suddenly gets a “great idea” and insists on sharing this idea with me, two things happen. And neither is good for fundraising.
- Not only do I have to try to interrupt the momentum of the live auction and listen to the idea – as a courtesy – I also have to make an educated decision on-the-fly if it’s actually a good idea or a bad idea. Either way my focus on the live auction items becomes clouded.
- If I decide it’s not a good idea, the person making the suggestion will inevitably ask me; “Why?” Now I am completely derailed, lost all the momentum, and the audience gets to sit while I explain quietly to the person why their idea will not work. Obviously, this creates immediate negativity.
So the next question is; “What’s the best way to handle this situation?”
For the answer I refer back to Part 1 of this Blog – have a “cool headed” person as a Gatekeeper – and preferably someone in a position of authority within the organization.
The Gatekeeper’s role is to get me off the hook by interrupting the conversation between me and the guest and basically taking over the situation. This allows me to escape to continue the live auction – to stay on message – and to maintain momentum. At the same time the guest with the suggestion is getting personal attention since the Gatekeeper is enthusiastic about what the guest is saying.
Once this dedicated individual listens and evaluates the suggestion they will let me know via a Post-It note on my auction binder if the suggestion requires any action on my part.
It’s really a win-win for both parties – as well as the other attendees.
And the best news of all – in many instances the guest is offering an additional item for the live auction which could add significantly to the charity’s fundraising effort. Of course, in that case, I’m more than happy to include it at the appropriate time.
So my suggestion for the week – be sure your live auction has a “cool-head” Gatekeeper at your auctioneer’s disposal. They often come in very handy.
By the way, in a future Blog I’ll reveal a fantastic donation that came up in the exact situation I just described two paragraphs earlier. But before I go I’ll give you a clue. “Quack!!!”