Bidding wars are awesome. They are intense, competitive and exciting for everyone in the room. It can also help raise a lot of money on a single auction item. That being said, bidding wars are also elusive and almost impossible to anticipate or create. There's just no guarantee that any of the items you've selected will ignite enough interest to get your event patrons to compete with each other. Or is there...?
Doug Sorrell, one of the nation's top benefit auctioneers, has had years of experience working auction events, and sometimes even he is surprised at what sparks the audience's interest. “In May 2013 I had a 'consigned' signed celebrity item for $5,500. The cost was $650. No one had any idea this would happen, or that this item would be the ‘spark,’” he recalls.
Although you can't count on a bidding war, certain strategies may improve the likelihood that one will take place:
- Hire a professional benefit auctioneer to host the live auction
- Offer exciting, big-ticket items
- Select items that tie in with the event's theme
- Promote these items before and during the event
"At another event I had a commemorative rifle sell for over $5,000," Sorrell recalls, "No way should it have sold for over $2,500. Clearly having something like a Winchester at a Cattle Barons Ball made sense." And it does make sense. Donors attend events that are of interest to them, which can often tell you a lot about what items may be of interest to them.
While the items you choose may or may not start a competition between donors, one thing is certain: your best chance at starting a bidding war is to hire an experienced professional benefit auctioneer.