Must Have Live Auction Item #5: Sports

This the post in my blog series on Must Have Auction Items for a Varied Live Auction. If you haven't caught the other posts, or aren't sure why it is so imporant to have a varied live auction, you can find all of those posts HERE or archived on my blog. Stay awhile and look around. I provide all of this information to help my clients or anyone else trying to plan their fundraiser. My goal is to help organizations be as successful as possible!  

The last type of item you should be looking for as you solicit items for your live auction is a Sports related item. 

Criteria for a successful Sports Item:

Exclusivity. Like with any live auction item, you will have more success if the item is not a dime a dozen. Signed swag is good if it is by a well-known, well-loved player who does not hand out their autograph liberally. 

Appeal. This should seem obvious, but for some people it is not. If you are receiving sports tickets, make sure it is to a GOOD game with GOOD seats. Example for all of my Minnesota friends: 50 yard line to the Vikings/Packers game.  

Open Availability. If someone in your association has great season tickets to some local professional team, ask them if they would be willing to donate tickets that the bidder can select the date. A few black-out dates are acceptable, but still not ideal. This takes a lot of sacrifice on the donors part, but it's worth asking.

Best way to get sports tickets: 

Ask your company to donate. So many companies have season tickets that they give out to clients or employees as incentives. It does not hurt them one bit to give a set to your organization to sell. If they are less than amazing tickets, sell them on the silent auction, but still ask and take those babies off their hands.

If you have questions about your sports related item or any of the other sports categories I've listed in this series, please contact me and I'd love to dialogue with you about your live auction line up. 

How many live auction items should I have at my fundraising auction?

 Good Question. I’ve done auctions with as few as 2 items and others with as many as 80, but the best range is somewhere between 6-12.

 Don’t get so stuck on the number though, I’m more concerned about quality of items over the quantity. If you have 15 super unique items that all have a broad appeal, by all means I’m open to having 15. However, if you have 15 items and 2 of them are vacations in Mexico and 4 are tickets to local sports teams, that’s where I would step in and help you bring it down under 12 items.

 The reason it’s important not to have too many items is that the crowd gets bored. Honestly! I’d love to think that people are captivated by me for 3 hours straight, but after about 30 minutes, it all starts to sound the same no matter how funny my jokes are. Once we’ve lost their attention, we have lost their money. 12 awesome items is pretty much an audience’s limit. Let’s be honest, they’re all waiting for the bar to open back up and the band to start playing anyway.

 On the other hand, if you only have 4 stellar items, don’t stress! I’d rather have 4 great items alone than start adding in lots that won’t go for much. It’s important not to kill the momentum during the live auction by selling a dud item. It will affect the bidder’s willingness to bid on future items. If you only have 4 awesome items, I will also sit down with you and go over item suggestions and help you brainstorm where to solicit those items.

Fund-a-Need – Picking your need

fund-a-need selection | Sarah Knox Benefit Auctions

Selecting a specific and measurable "need" for your fund-a-need will motivate and inspire donors to step up to the challenge you set before them. While some fund-a-needs can be successful if funds are going to the organization in general, people want to know they are making a difference and giving them some thing specific to work towards gives them meaning and fulfillment.

Examples of a few "needs" I’ve done in the past:

  • Scholarship Fund (this is a popular one)
  • Medical Equipment
  • School Bus
  • Handicap Accessible Vans
  • A school in Haiti (we built it room by room)
  • New Technology Equipment
  • Mission Trips
  • Fresh Water in Africa

There are more and more examples, and your "need" will be specific to your organization. If it’s something you are struggling with, reach out to me because I help with this as a part of my benefit auction consulting process.