Hiring a professional charity auctioneer is a sure way to raise more money and give your audience a night to remember. Before hiring an auctioneer, however, its important to understand that not all auctioneers are the same.
To give you an idea of how many types of auctioneers there are out there, here is a list of categories from the National Auctioneers Association:
The "Benefit & Charity" specialty is a relatively new category for auctioneers. In the past, auctioneers with a specialty in the for-profit sector would donate their time to chant during the live auction portion of a charity event.
This has evolved over the last decade as more Nonprofits turn to event fundraising. With Nonprofits looking to pack a bigger punch at their events, they need a host with the ability to draw more money out of an audience and motivate them to donate beyond just the live auction.
This has turned the category of "Benefit & Charity" auctioneers into an industry all its own, where Nonprofits pay auctioneers for their knowledge and expertise before, during and after an event. There are now many auctioneers who dedicate their entire careers to hosting charity events and helping Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue.
As a Nonprofit, your event budget is likely pretty tight, so you need make sure the auctioneer you hire will be able to add significant value. To find the right benefit auctioneer, following are five questions you should ask to determine if an auctioneer will be a good fit to emcee your event.
1. Do you have a Benefit Auction Specialist (BAS) designation?
Auctioneers who earn the BAS designation have completed courses in planning and conducting effective benefit auctions. Candidates complete 21 hours of classroom training which covers the following areas:
- Fundraising components of benefit auctions
- Item acquisition
- Audience development
- Additional revenue-generating activities and items
- Solicitation of benefit auction clients
- Marketing, public relations and self-promotion
While you do not need to require an auctioneer to have their BAS designation, make sure they are at least familiar with these topics. They need to be able to demonstrate how they can add value to your event planning process in addition to their expertise working the audience at the event itself.
An auctioneer with a BAS designation guarantees that you are working with a "fundraising specialist" who will help you throughout the entire planning process, offering advice and answering any questions you might have.
2. What services do you provide?
Professional charity auctioneers are meant to do more than just show up on the night of the event. When you hire a charity auctioneer, you are hiring them for their expertise and ideas. Ask them if they help clients at the beginning of the planning process. You want to have a benefit auctioneer who can help you every step of the way.
3. What other events have you worked?
Even if a charity auctioneer is experienced, that doesn’t mean he or she is experienced in events like yours. Find out what clients and audiences the auctioneer has worked with in the past. Don't be afraid to ask them for referrals from past clients who you can speak to directly.
If an auctioneer hasn't worked an event like yours before, ask them what they plan to do differently. You are paying for a service, so its fair to gauge an auctioneer's familiarity with charity auctions and determine what kind of success they've achieved in the past. The good auctioneers will give you more than enough testimonials and success stories to peruse.
4. Do you have any videos from past events?
Sometimes the best way to decide who would be the best charity auctioneer is to see candidates in action. Ask potential charity auctioneers if they have a video clip or two that you can watch. Seeing them perform at an actual event will give you a better idea of their personalities and how they will interact with your audience.
5. What are some techniques you use to keep audiences entertained?
Charity auctioneers do more than just chant auction items. They keep the audience engaged and interested. Quiz a potential auctioneer on the different strategies they have used in the past to entertain attendees. Some tell jokes, others might prefer games. If any candidates struggle to answer, that’s probably a bad sign…
Finding a charity auctioneer who will help your event be a success doesn’t have to be difficult. It's all about asking the right questions. You are paying for a service, so don't hesitate to vet potential candidates on their experiences to find out which one is going to be best suited for your event.
Do you have any other questions you like to ask potential auctioneers before hiring them for an event? I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment with feedback or your own experience with a benefit auctioneer.
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Jeff Cova, President of Winspire, Inc., has over 17 years of experience in the Nonprofit and fundraising industry. Prior to Winspire, Jeff worked for 5 years as the Director of Development at Cal State Fullerton before co-founding a company specializing in producing charity auctions for Nonprofits where he successfully produced the auctions for 250 of Southern California’s most successful fundraising events.
In 2008 Jeff founded Winspre with the goal of helping non-profits across the country increase their event fundraising revenue and identify new fundraising sources. Jeff and his team at Winspire have helped over 12,000 non-profits to date. You can also find Jeff on Google+.