How many live auction items should you have at your fundraising auction?

Ever wonder how many live auction items you should have at your fundraiser? This many | Sarah Knox Fundraising Auctioneer

Today, I want to focus on something easy. I am often asked how many live auction items you should have in your live auction. 

In the past, auctioneers recommended having 8-12 auction items, but over the past couple years the intrigue of the live auction has faded and with the rise of the Fund-A-Need, it has become the primary source of revenue for most of my clients. 

The number of Live Auction items I recommend having in your Live Auction:

4-6

Why? 

Because your guests don't have the attention span for any more than that.  

I have found that after 6 items, you begin to lose your audience's attention. You may engage the few people interested in those last items on your list, but other than that your guests are tapped out. 

Why this is important? 

For most of my clients, the Fund-A-Need is conducted after the live auction. And you want everything in your program to support your Fund-A-Need. Sometimes it is even more profitable to have the Fund-A-Need before the Live Auction, which is a topic for another day. For today, I want to focus on how the live auction can build momentum up to the Fund-A-Need.

What's the big deal about the fund-a-need? 

The fund-a-need is where most of my clients bring in the majority of their revenue. It is when they can involve everyone in the audience and welcome them to join in on the incredible work their organization does. If you want to learn more about that, please watch my videos from last week and the week before to get a very thorough overview of how to have a profitable fund-a-need.  

You actually lose money by having too many live auction items

You do not want the live auction to run too long because it will only engage a small percentage of your audience, and the rest of your crowd will eventually tune out and you will have lost their attention for the Fund-A-Need where they are mostly likely to give.

While I make sure my live auctions are fun and exciting and that everyone is in on the fun by making jokes and playing with the audience, after a while it becomes a lot of the same. You do not want your auctioneer to take away from the work your organization does.  

By including 4-6 live auction items in your program you will: 

Cultivate Competative Bidding

By having fewer items in your live auction (this is actually true of your silent auction too), the few items you have will go for more than they would have if you had more items in play. I have many clients who cut their live auctions in half and made the same amount of revenue (if not more) in the live auction and made even more in the Fund-A-Need. 

Create Momentum

This is a stop while you are ahead mentality. The live auction is fun and exciting and I get everyone laughing and playing along. You want to stop at the height of your energy and conduct the fundraising appeal or Fund-A-Need. People become swept up in the energy and are ready to give at this time. 

Build Trust

This is probably the strongest argument for having the live auction before the Fund-A-Need (again, you do not have to do it this way). As the auctioneer, I am an outsider. Your audience does not know me, and therefore they don't trust me. I have no credibility with them at the beginning of an event and therefore no authority to ask them to give money. After about four or five live auction items, we've gotten to know each other pretty well. I approach every auction with authenticity and quickly build a rapport with my audience. This means when it is time to do the ask, they trust and respect me and are more comfortable opening up their pocketbooks when I tell them to. 

Ever wonder how many live auction items you should have at your fundraiser? This many | Sarah Knox Fundraising Auctioneer