The special appeal. The fund-a-need. The funding plea. The "Ask"... The only hotter topic of debate than what to call the special appeal has to be when, exactly, you should schedule it during your charity auction event. Okay, so maybe special appeal placement isn't exactly a burning debate, but it's certainly a subject of discussion within the fundraising community... and it's not hard to see why.
After all, charity auctions have many moving parts -- the silent auction, the live auction, the presenters, the cocktails, the food -- it can be easy to simply place the appeal wherever it seems convenient within the schedule. But, just as with each element of an event, there needs to be a strategy, and in the case of the special appeal, there's more than one school of thought on which strategy is most effective: Specifically, should the special appeal come before or after the live auction?
We asked two well-known Benefit Auctioneer Specialists, Doug Sorrell and Ben Farrell, to shed some light on the varying strategies for placing the special appeal during a charity auction event.
A quick note: The placement of the special appeal really depends on your audience and the size and scope of your event. As Doug Sorrell puts it: “Both sides of this debate are correct.” We simply wanted to explore the reasoning behind each strategy so you can make an informed decision for your own fundraising event.
Special Appeal After the Live Auction
The prevailing philosophy among many of the more traditional benefit auctioneers is to schedule the fund-a-need last, after the live auction, when people are swept up in the excitement, emotion and energy of bidding on big-ticket items. Placing the appeal before the live auction can also have a detrimental effect on the level of audience participating during the live auction.