fundraising auctioneer

What To Do With Great Items That Don't Make The Cut for Live Auction

Last week I talked about how cutting your number of live auction items in half will actually bring in more revenue. Even though you are only going to have 5-6 live auction items, chances are that you will bring in more than 6 great donations in the process.

What to do with the other amazing items. 

Items that don't "make the cut" for the live auction, will naturally go in the silent auction, right? Wrong. There are a couple of things You can do with these big ticket items. 

1. Use it as a prize in Heads & Tails or for a raffle. Back before everyone had an iPad, organizations were getting these as donations and the auction committee always wanted the iPad on the live auction. Here's the deal though. The iPad only would sell for retail value or a couple hundred dollars over. I guess it was exiting to get $700 for a $500 item, but know what is more exciting? Getting $2000 for a $500 item. By using an item with a broad appeal as a raffle or Heads & Tails prize, it was easy to engage donors to participate. Not everyone would drop $700 for an item valued at $500, but it is easy to sell 200 raffle tickets or Heads & Tails beads at $10 a piece. 

2. Have a SUPER SILENT Auction. Whoa! This one is exciting. A Super Silent Auction is run by the auctioneer (cough*Sarah Knox*cough) during the silent auction. Rather than bidders writing their number on bid cards or bidding electronically, they would call out their bidder number and bid amount to the facilitator to write on a white board. It gains quite a bit of attention in the last 5 minutes of the bidding. This is set up in the same room as the silent auction. It is a lot of fun. 

3. Set up a display for "Almost Live" or "Premier Auction" Items in the center of the silent auction area, or right near check in so it's the first thing guests see. This is good because it honors the generous donors of the items ensuring they get a lot of recognition for the items. If using electronic bidding, have this as it's own category so bidders can easily find these items. 

How to determine which items make the cut for Live Auction or not.

For this, I will refer you to my blog series I did last fall on the 5 types of items you should include to create a dynamic live auction.  Just because an item has the highest value, doesn't mean it should automatically be in the live auction. A live auction lineup needs to be curated with careful thought and strategy in order to bring in the most revenue.

If you have want to engage bidders during your live auction and throughout the rest of your event, contact me via the form in my sidebar --> 

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. 

Must Have Live Auction Item #4: Alcohol

I will start by saying this item is not for all organizations. Any organization affiliated with addiction and recovery or even domestic violance as well as some religious affiliations may want to steer clear of this type of item out of respect for the attendees. 

With that being said, items including an experience related to alcohol usually has a broad appeal. 

Examples of Alcohol Related Live Auction Items

Wall of Wine.  This is where all of the board members or auction committee members donate a bottle of wine (some bottles will be higher quality than others) until you have a collection of anywhere from 10-50 bottles of wine, and you sell it as a package. You will want to print any higher end bottles in your program, and ideally would print all of the bottles in the program so people can see what they are bidding. It is unrealistic and much less effective to verbally list all the bottles when introducing the item.

Wine Tasting. A private and exclusive wine tasting in someone's home with a professional Sommelier. 

Private Brewery Party. Local microbreweries are popping up all over the place (especially here in Minneapolis), but a tour is not enough because really anyone can go tour a brewery. A private tasting party at the brewery for 10+ people with catering by a local food truck (or two) would be an item worth selling on live auction and would provide an exclusive appeal. 

Wheel barrel of Booze. This item is always a hit. It is similar to the Wall of Wine, except it is an actual wheel barrel filled with alcohol. Arrange the alcohol so the higher end items are showing. You could also include glasses and garnishes (olives, cherries, frilly toothpicks, etc) in with the alcohol to fully stock the bar. This is an easy item to fill because auction committee members or board members would all go together to in contributing to this item. The winning bidder gets to take home their new wheel barrel and all of its contents. 

If you have a question about any of these items or want to know if it would be appropriate for you to add one of these items to your organization's live auction, please reach out and I will give honest feedback on your live auction lineup. 

Must Have Live Auction Item #3: Unique Experience

A unique experience is the hardest item to come up with because you often need to think outside of the box and pull your personal connections in for this. There is really no real criteria here other than provide an experience or an item that people cannot access on their own. So, for this post, I will just be listing examples of things I have sold to get your creative juices flowing.

Examples of Unique Experiences

  • Character created about winning bidder in a well known author's next book
  • Trip to visit and tour Jay Leno's garage (with Jay Leno if the timing was right) 
  • Principal for a Day
  • Trip with a professional sport's team to an out of state game which included accommodations and riding with the team on their plane to and from the game as well as an after party post game.
  • Lock in sleepover at a museum with a roof top movie
  • Premier parking space for school pickup and drop off
  • Batboy (bat-kid) for local professional Baseball team
  • Box at a professional sports game hosted by a (well-known) retired player
  • Timed shopping spree at a local department store

The possibilities are endless for these types of items. What I would encourage you and your team to do is to plan an entire meeting that is set aside for brainstorming this type of item. Throw out ideas with the freedom of "no idea is a bad idea" and just go with it. Some of the best auction items sound "stupid" in your head before you say it outloud and realize that it could actually happen with the connections in the room. Eventually what will happen is one member will throw out an idea, another member will know someone with the right connections and you will find yourself with a very exclusive an unique idea. 

What To Do With Unsold Silent Auction Items

Last week I answered a common question I get from clients, "Can we sell unsold silent auction items before or after the live auction?" My answer was "NO!" However that leaves us with a conundrum: what can we do with unsold live auction items??

Lots of things!

  1. Remove minimum bids: You can decide at a certain point in the night that any silent auction items that have not been bid on, no longer have a minimum bid. It may be that for some of those more quirky donations, the valued minimum bid may have been too high to entice any bidders. If your concern is just getting those items out of your hands that night, this is the best option.
  2. FIRE SALE: Hosting an online fire sale on your organization's auction site after the  auction is a great way to manage any items that did not sell. This works with organizations that opt to use mobile bidding software. Companies like BidPal will work with you to create a specific auction site where people can register for the event, get updates and bid on items before or after the auction (if you choose to make it available). You will most likely get more revenue from this than you would with our option #1.
  3. Sell the items at an external site (like ebay or craigslist). This takes more effort, but it opens up your bidding audience to people looking for those specific items. I wouldn't take the time to do this with all the items, but if you have anything that is of higher value, but requires the bidding of specific tastes (art, jewelry, furniture, sports memorabilia, etc), this would be worth your time to try to reach those people for the sake of your organization.

If you have questions about your silent auction, I can work with you to answer those as well as things related to your live auction.