mn benefit 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 --> 

How To Capture Fund-a-Need Donations at your Fundraising Gala

Most events are incorporating Fund-a-Needs, Fund-a-Cause, or an Ask at their fundraising events these days. Many events are scrapping the live auction all together and focusing solely on this portion of the evening for donations. The fund-a-need is one of my favorite portions of the evening because it gives everyone in the audience an opportunity to make a difference. 

The biggest concern for my event chairs, directors of development and foundation directors is how to capture these donations. There are several ways to ensure that these donations are captured and I will cover three of the most common.

1. Paddle Raise - When bidders raise their paddles at the amount they would like to donate, volunteers come around and capture their bidder numbers under the amount they have committed to and it is added to their check out. This is the most traditional way to do capture bids. What's required? Many Volunteers, Bid Paddles, Pens and Paper. Pros: creates excitement in giving. Cons: room for human error as sometimes the volunteers don't see everyone or the bidders lower their paddles before a volunteer can get to them.

2. Commitment Cards - This is where we would ask people to raise their hands to show their commitment and build excitement and then we would ask them to follow through on their commitment by filling out a card with their credit card information and commitment amount. What's required? Pens, Premade Fund-a-Need commitment cards, Envelopes on each table.  Pros: Donors do not have to sit in check-out. Cons: Some people don't worry about raising their hands as they fill out their cards instead which will cut into the excitement and therefore impact giving as a whole. Also, some people do not feel comfortable filling out these cards at each table.

3. Mobile Bidding: This is becoming more and more popular as technology is becoming a bigger part of our lives. People would use a mobile bidding device (provided by the mobile bidding company) or their own smart phones. What's Required? Mobile Bidding software (Such as BidPal). Pros: Real Time donation tracking, no check-out, many donors give more than once. Cons: Mobile bidding software costs money.

I have done fund-a-needs all three ways and have had a ton of success with each one. If you are wondering what is the best way to capture donations during your fund-a-need, contact me today and we can discuss what will work best for your event.

Picking the Right Venue for Your Fundraising Auction - Acoustics

Picking the right venue for your fundraising auction | Sarah Knox Benefit Auctions

The venue you select will make a huge difference in giving at your event. I will address lay out and such in future posts, but today I want to address acoustics. Now, don’t get me wrong, you don’t need the Guthrie stage or the St. Paul Cathedral to get maximum bidding, but you do need to pick a room that does not echo. If there is an echo or the sound does not carry, people loose focus or can’t hear altogether. This is so Important because if people can’t hear, they won’t bid. Period. As a general rule venues that work are: Theaters, Concert Venues, Golf Courses and Hotel Ballrooms.

– All of these facilities are designed for events like this or weddings or seminars or musical shows. I’ve done a lot of work with the Yellow Tree Theatre in Anoka – great venue for audiences of up to 250 and organizations in the northwest suburbs. For more central locations, any golf club or hotel ballroom works great because they are usually carpeted and have the capacity for a good sound system.

Venues that don’t work: Gyms (or anything covered in tile) and outside

. Many people pick a gym because they are free/inexpensive at their school, local church or community center. A good venue is worth your money. I guarantee you will loose more money using a gym than it would have cost you to rent a hotel ballroom for the night of your event.

If you have concerns or questions about your venue, feel free to contact me and I can help make suggestions for your event.

Videos at your Fundraising Auction

Using Videos to tell a story to raise more money at your Fundraising Auction | Sarah Knox Benefit Auctions

Does your organization have a video to play at your fundraising auction? If so, think about it, is it filmed and edited by a professional. Besides hiring the right auctioneer, this is one of the most valuable things you can spend money on. A well edited video will open the hearts, and correspondingly their wallets, in 5 minutes or less – really 2-3 minutes is ideal.

Professional editing is HUGE! Just think of any chick flick you’ve watched recently and how the soundtrack alone controlled how you responded to the scene. It’s important to have a video that will move the audience to feel emotionally invested in your organization because if they are emotionally invested they are more likely to become financially invested. They want to know their money is going towards a good cause.

I have a couple really awesome videographers all at different price points, so reach out if you need suggestions.

Below is a video used by one of my clients that were used just before the fund-a-need to help tug at the audience's heart strings.

Selling Vacations at a Fundraising Auction – Success!

 I’ve talked about things to avoid when selling vacations at your fundraising auction, but there are things you can do to enhance the item:

  • Advertise –This goes for most items actually. If you have anything awesome that you plan to sell, put it in your email blasts, save-the-dates, website, twitter, facebook, and even your formal invite if you wish. This will allow people to anticipate some of the "hot" items and be prepared to bid on them night of. With Vacations, you will have several people looking for a reason to go to Hawaii, and they are looking forward to winning it at the auction. This will getting them bidding against each other, pushing the price up. I am able to get people to bid higher than they initially set out to, but it helps when they had an interest in the item to start.
  • Get airfare –This is IDEAL, but not necessary. It used to be expected when you bought a vacation at a fundraiser that airfare was included. Now, with the airlines tightening their budgets in every corner, it is nearly impossible to get a donation from them. Nearly impossible, not actually impossible. There are also other ways of getting airfare that just require creativity and asking the right people. Frequent Flyer Miles, finding a sponsor to donate them, Credit Card Rewards points, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask people!
  • Local Trips –With the infrequency in airfare donations, local vacations have been increasing in value. Trips to people’s cabins or northern resorts (during peak season) often go for just as much as a trip to Florida or Colorado. It’s more manageable for people, especially families, to wrap their minds around in the speed of an auction.
  • Double up - When a donor gives a vacation to their vacation home, always ask, "If this item starts to bring in a lot of money, would you be willing to donate 2?" In the middle of the benefit auction, it looks like it’s a last minute thing where we double it and bring in twice as much money (applause please), but it’s important to ask because you never want to put someone on the spot - trust me, I’ve know this from experience.