Silent Auction Observations from this Season and how you can profit from them:
So a few more Auctions before the Holidays are upon us and we finish another great Charity Benefit Auction year! We have conducted or been a part of about 30 Auctions in 2012 and once again we have seen the best (An Apple Pie sold for $1,350) and the worst ( Let’s open the Casino Gaming tables in the other room at the same time we do the Live Auction) ideas you can imagine. But we have observed a lot of Silent Auctions this year and have put together some ideas that may help you maximize your profits in 2013. Feel free to copy and paste these and send them on to your colleagues. (Just mention where you got them!)
Observation # 1. A confused mind does not bid so make sure you have proper lighting & sound as well as short terse descriptions. Your silent Auction is not a Pulitzer Prize contest. Tell the bidders what it is, when it is available and why they should purchase it and keep it clear and simple.
Observation # 2. Close Your Auction during the Live and reopen for 15 minutes after. It may be tempting to keep the auction open all the time or close it before the Live, but all evidence suggests that all the spirited bidding takes place in the last 10 minutes. The heavy bidding doesn’t start until you tell the guests that it is about to close and people in general tend to follow instructions when in big groups. If your Professional Licensed Auctioneer (You knew I’d throw that in somewhere yes?) gives you a 10 minute, 5 minute, 2 minute and 1 minute countdown you have in effect created another Live Auction with competitive bidding.
Observation # 3. Traffic Flow and ease of bidding is imperative. Guests must be able to circulate throughout the room without any dead ends or road blocks and they have to be able to get to the Bid sheets. Don’t stack them on top of each other. People will not pick them up and if they can’t find the bid sheet they become confused. (See Observation #1) Walk around the room and make sure traffic flows easily. Also show All Bid Increments on Bid Sheet: Don’t leave it to the guests to decide what to bid because this requires them to think. Set your increments so that the value of the item is reached in as few levels as possible. 4-6 is best.
Observation # 4. Don’t ask for a lot of information on the bid sheet. Ask for Bid Numbers only, no telephone numbers and names on the bid sheet. It only wastes time and effort and in most cases can’t be read properly. (Ever tried to write with a drink I your hand?) Make sure you have a complete database before the event and use a reputable Charity Auction Software with pre-printed stickers or smart phone bidding if you need to. Do not depend on the bid sheet for information on your guests. This is about bidding and fun.
Observation # 5. Proper Displays of items are essential. Images for almost everything can be downloaded from the web (Google) and a picture is worth a thousand words. Use short to the point descriptions. As we said before, your silent Auction is not a Pulitzer Prize contest or your chance to write the great American novel. Tell the bidders what it is, when it is available and why they should purchase it and keep it clear and simple. If it cannot be described accurately in 3 sentences or less then it belongs somewhere else. In the Live or Super Silent perhaps.
Observation # 6- Silent Auction Consignment companies are not Satan. There are several companies that provide charity auction products and services for charitable organizations. Pick one that works exclusively with 501(c)(3) organizations. Autographed and signed sports and entertainment memorabilia adds an extra level of excitement to your event that your guests will enjoy and appreciate. These companies can supply all the items for your entire auction or supplement the items you already have and save your committee valuable time that they can use obtaining High Level Sponsorships or selling tables for $5,000.
The events they work with include: galas, golf tournaments, benefits and concerts. They can provide memorabilia for the auction, event decorating, sponsorships and PGA golf prizes for long drive. Explore the companies out there and see what they have to offer. Maybe it’s a good fit and maybe it’s not. How will you know if you reject the idea out of hand?
Hopefully these have been some ideas you can use. Share them with your Professional Licensed Charity Benefit Auctioneer, your Gala Committee or your Development Director. See what they think. Have a Great Fundraising Auction in 2013!
We have all been to them. I have been to more than most of
you reading this. As an observer of behavior at these Gala events I have a few
tips for those of you planning to attend a Gala Auction this Fall from a
Charity Benefit Auctioneers point of view.
I have conducted many a Charity Auction and 90% go well and with no “Buyer’s Remorse”. However I once heard about an attendee after one of my Auctions who woke up with a hangover and was distressed to remember he now had a $7,000 puppy. On another occasion an attendee was bidding on a trip she was sure others would love to go on and would therefore have lots of people help her with the $16,700 cost.
that. In addition if you are planning to bid on a Live Auction item have a glass of wine, or two but know your limits and do not drink so that your judgment is impaired. Have the Makers Mark
afterwards to celebrate your having the winning bid for the BMW at the Fundraising Auction!
2. Review the items before you go:
Most nonprofits now have some sort of capability to show you picture and descriptions of the Auction Items before the day of the Auction, if not a Technological solution to actually allow you to bid on the items like Qtego or Auction Source. Take a look ahead of time as to what they are offering in the Live and Silent Auction.
Also, read the description and ask questions of the Auction Chair or staff before the Auction begins. Sometimes Charity’s do forget to put the number of days or number of bedrooms in the trip to Cancun’s description. A few questions ahead of time will keep you from
having to interrupt the Charity Fundraising Auctioneer during the Gala
3. Get a room and park the kids somewhere overnight:
This is not a swipe at couples who like to show a lot of affection to each other at the Gala. I have been too many Galas where the crowd emptied at 9PM right after the Live Auction or Awards ceremony was over. Once I wondered if there had been a bomb threat called in and I had
4. Check the Menu
Ever have something for lunch and be served the same thing for dinner? How much chicken can you eat? Even if the menu is not published anywhere a quick call to the venue or caterer and they can inform you as to what the fare is for that evening. What if you or someone you have invited to sit at your table has an allergy to mushrooms? Whatis one of your guests is Lactose intolerant and the entrée is smothered in orstuffed with cheese? Make sure the Charity knows if there is a special dietaryrestriction or you may be stopping at the Wendy’s Drive Through (Open Late) on the way home!
5. Wear the right Clothes and Shoes:
I am not suggesting that anyone who reads this shows up to a Black Tie Gala in shorts and flip flops. What I mean by that is my wife has a couple if dresses that simply take my breath away when I see her in them. She also has a pair of shoes that I think she is gorgeous in. BUT,
these are not the most comfortable shoes she has (as she points out to me). How many items are there in the Silent Auction?
Do you plan to spend a lot of time standing and guarding your item? What is the dress of the event? Many Galas state on the invitation that their attire is “Austin Funky Chic” or “Crazy Cocktail”! What does that even mean? I suggest that if you are not checking in or the event is not in a hotel that men dress on the high side and then if the event is more casual when you arrive or not at a hotel ballroom just ditch the coat and tie in the car.
Come join us at the Gala!!
Non profits many times just do not want to spend the money for extra help, and yes many of their volunteers love to stand up and have fun by “Spotting Bids”. They believe they can and add to the evening and Organizations are sometimes worried about offending them.
The Bid Assistant is animated, adding excitement and helping to hold audience attention. He is not afraid to step in again asking the bidder to raise his bid. It has been proven again and again that a Bid Assistant will more than pay for his fee, before the auction has ended.
So this begs the question as to why more organizations cannot bring themselves to use trained Bid Assistants. They can’t bring themselves to spend the extra money when they have volunteers willing to work, or they just do not appreciate the value of the crew. Again they do not realize what the well meaning volunteer is costing them, and I am absolutely serious about it costing $20,000 or more by not using them. If you have not seen the excitement and enthusiasm that Ringmen bring to the event as I did at the Dell Cow Parade Auction then you are not making an informed decision.