You’ve never had a LIVE AUCTION? Why not? 6 steps to Live Auction Success!

I will admit, that there are some very successful events that have never had a live auction or Fund A Need during the dinner portion of the event. I am also pretty sure that these events are leaving thousands if not TENS of thousands of dollars literally on the table if the donors are either not asked or not asked effectively. Just this past weekend we worked with two organizations who’ve never had a live auction at their event. Both were very wary about the impact one small change can have on the results of a small fundraiser, but I am proud to say that both events met and exceeded expectations and goals of each committee and board member involved.

Some of the hesitations in each of those organizations were very similar. They were both asking “Why would anybody bid? “; “What if no one bids”; “What are we going to sell?” and “How do we keep track of what sells and to whom?” And many more questions. You might be asking yourself these same questions or have more that you’d like answered if you are thinking about adding a live auction to your event. Here are some points to think about before you take the big step into implementing a live auction into your fundraiser.

6 Steps for Live Auction Success:

  1. Audio/Visual Needs: You need to have amazing sound and video to display your message correctly and have a pleasant guest experience for your donors and attendees. Prior to having a live auction you may have been able to get away with using the venue’s in-house speakers to make your presentation and appeal. When you are planning for live auction success, you need to have a separate sound system including powered speakers around the room and a wireless microphone for your professional auctioneer to use. If your guests can’t understand or hear the auctioneer or it’s too loud or painful to listen to, they will leave and you will raise less money.
  2. Show Flow: Your event needs to move smoothly and efficiently to respect your donor’s time investment and to create opportunities for all attendees to give. We suggest you fundraise first and do the awards and dance later. Making sure you do your key fundraising at the best times will set you up for success. You can find out more about show flow here.
  3. Live Auction Items: Ok, you want to have an auction but don’t think you have items or experiences to sell? The best way to find items is to look within your own network of committee members and board members. Does someone have a timeshare, vacation home, private chef that they’d be willing to donate for an experience? Maybe someone knows a celebrity or a sports star to spend the day with. Maybe someone has a membership to a private golf club or has a houseboat they’d like to donate? What about your organization? Can you create an experience that you can find anywhere else? Maybe your teens can plant a garden for a bidder or have a dinner with the board of directors? The sky is the limit! It’s not about what you sell but how that item is a tool for giving to create competition and the spirit of giving to your meaningful organization that is changing the community with their dollars.
  4. A live Auction can create inspiration, excitement and engagement: Everyone loves an AUCTION! The sound, the rhythm, the speed, the competition…whether your bidders are actively participating or just spectating from the sidelines but showing their encouragement, everyone can get in on the act! When you do an effective auction, you will grab everyone in the room’s attention and when you have their attention…BAM! You hit them with mission and impact stories about the successes your organization is having and then they will give moreJ . By building excitement and engagement along with the inspiration portion, you have a unique opportunity to ask everyone to give at a level that is meaningful for them through an effective Fund A Need, Call To Action or Paddle Raiser appeal. When you do this right, everyone can give and invest in your cause.
  5. Professional Fundraising Auctioneer: Having an effective, fun, exciting and inspiring Professional Fundraising Auctioneer you will guarantee your success as well as the enjoyment and involvement of your donors in the auction. A Professional Fundraising Auctioneer knows how to read the crowd and get them to bid more, but also invests time and energy into learning about your organization to become the best ambassador they can be. When you combine ambassadorship with a great auctioneer, your fundraising records will be broken! You can learn more about this here.
  6. Check In / Check Out: You will need an efficient check in and check out service or software to issue everyone bid numbers and pre-swipe credit cards. If you do this right you can collect most of the money raised that night, if not, you might be chasing dollars for months after the event and may not even receive some pledged donations. No dollars go into your bank account unless the prior planning is done before hand. You can learn more here.

If you follow these simple steps, you can set yourself up for success and record breaking fundraising at your next event! If you would like more help in planning a great fundraising with your guests saying “That was the best auction I’ve ever been too”, please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can help you raise more money so you can help more in your community.


Bobby D.

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