Fundraising Auctioneer - Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Musical Chairs

Posted by Scott On November 14th

 

musical chairs

A few days ago a strange, but an absolute right-on comparison popped into my head and I thought I’d share it with you today.  A fundraising gala – that has both a silent auction and a live auction – is much like a game of musical chairs. You weren’t expecting that comparison where you?! But, hear me out.

During an event, with both a silent auction and a live auction, there is a time when your guests should be on their feet and a time when they should take a seat.

Let’s begin with the silent auction. This is the time of the event you want your guests on their feet.  You want them to be mobile so they can walk around and mingle – preferably bidding on the silent auction items.

It’s alright to have a little bit of seating for those who have difficulty walking or standing, but place the seating in the corners of the room and away from the silent auction area.

bb-fn12hi

 

However, you can have tables near the silent auction area, but they should be high cocktail tables with NO bar stools. This will give your guests a place to rest their drinks and chat with those immediately around them without them sitters.  Remember, once a person sits they tend to protect their “real estate” and not move from their seats. Keeping them standing or walking around the silent auction tables will result in higher revenue being generated for the charity.

With that said, it’s just the opposite during a live auction. You want everyone seated – no movement.  This will keep your guests focused on the PowerPoint presentation containing the live auction slides, the auctioneer, and especially the items being auctioned.

It’s much like a high school football coach, when near the end of practice, he tells his players to take a knee as he goes over today’s practice and what they can expect at this week’s game.  By doing this the coach knows he’s taller than the players – and he has the stage.  It also assures no player’s view is blocked and his message will reach everyone within listening distance.

If your guests are walking around the room where the live auction is being held they create a disturbance and the others in the room lose focus. A loss of focus is a loss of revenue.

 

This is one of the primary reasons not to have a buffet at your fundraising auction. Whenever possible choose the sit down dinner

So keep them standing when they should be standing.  Keep them seated when they should be seated. At the end of the day your bottom line will thank you.

 

auction

When it comes to promoting your auction many of your guests will be looking on your website for the date, time and place as well as other general information.  When it comes to promoting the items you are going to auction off during the fundraising event, nothing beats an old fashion catalog.

 

I recommend sending out the catalogs two weeks prior to the event – no more, no less.  This will give individuals and couples plenty of time to page through the catalog and determine which items they are interested in bidding on but not allow them time to postpone reviewing the catalog.

 

Although the first few pages can have a few words from the event chair and some information regarding the charity itself, when it comes to the actual auction items, each live auction item should have a page of its own.

 

Each page should include a photo of the item and a brief, easy to read description. It’s important to note that color photos are preferred if the printing budget allows for it. Yes, it’s more expensive.  But, we live in a let-me-see color world and fortunately I’ve learned over the 20-plus years I’ve been a benefit auctioneer that catalogs with color pays for itself by raising the level of interest in an item and the level of excitement during the auction. And that translates into higher prices.

 

Finally, I recommend testimonials be included with an item where appropriate.

 

alaska

Here’s a great example.  Let’s say you are auctioning off a fishing trip to Alaska, which includes a stay at a private chalet and the best fishing captain at the port.  If you auctioned off the same trip the year prior get some quotes from the person who took the trip and let them describe – in their own words – what a fantastic adventure it was.  You simply can’t beat positive personal experiences.

 

And don’t forget about silent auction items. Although it increases the work load, listing all the silent auction items, in categories provides greater exposure to the profit makers. For instance if you have  golf experiences from various country clubs. The catergory will be “GOLF” with the items listed below with the their respective silent auction number. (see example below) This will allow you spread out the golf trips all around the silent area but group them in the catalog. Pictures are generally not provided for silent auction items.

 

 Golf Packages

 

Item number                 Description                            Location

12                        Foursome at Fiddlesticks CC        Ft Myers FL

23                        Foursome at Quail West                 Naples FL

42                        Foursome at Black Diamond       Crystal River FL

66                        Foursome at Bear’s Paw                 Sarasota FL

 

So, don’t forget to get those catalogs out on time and give each live auction item its own colorful, descriptive page. And be sure to have a copy of the same catalog at the event so your guests can remind themselves exactly on what they want to bid.

 

 

 

thanks

One of the first blogs I posted on my website had to do with the subject of saying “thank you.” The focus of that blog was when to send a follow-up thank you to your event’s VIPs and largest, most generous contributors.

If you will recall, the answer was within days. Any thank you that arrives after that time frame seems like water under the bridge since too much time would have elapsed and memories of the event begin to fade.

In this blog I want to discuss saying thank you during an event.

 

party-hostess1Although every guest should receive a warm welcome and feel as if their presence is very much appreciated – the verbalization of a thank you carries a much heavier weight and is much more appreciated by your guests when it is spoken immediately after the fundraising portion of the event.

Avoid saying “thank you” at the beginning of an event.  And avoid saying “thank you” during the middle of an event.  Overdoing those two words early on is like adding water to soup – it dilutes the power the words and those words will have less meaning when they’ll really mean the most.

Wine Fest 2010 222

My philosophy is:  “Welcome – and away we go with the auction.”  Nationally this is a fairly new trend – but it has proven to work.  So, save every “thank you” for the end.

And don’t forget – a nice thank you goes great with a strong, sincere handshake or a warm hug – when appropriate. It’s not only the perfect combination to end the night – or day – but it will help build the foundation for the guest list for your next year’s event.

Now that I’m done with this blog – may I just say “thank you” for reading it.