When it comes to charity auctions, procuring quality items tends to be auction organizers' biggest challenge. Once you do wrangle those big-ticket items, are you all set? Not so fast - it's now time to consider the order in which they're presented.
In photography, the golden hour is the time shortly after sunrise or before sunset when daylight is redder, softer, and perfect for capturing precious memories. In medicine, it's the first hour after serious injury. Time is of the essence, and the earlier emergency treatment is administered, the better.
In charity fundraising events, the golden hour is the peak time of your program to launch the #1 revenue generator of the night: the live auction.
"Dear Winspire, How many items should we put in the live auction portion of our fundraising gala? We usually have around 125 guests. Last year, we auctioned off 17 items and the coordinator said it was way too many – that people lost interest by the end. Do you have any suggestions before Monday's auction meeting?" - Nancy B., Indiana
This is one of the most common questions we get: What's the right number of live auction items? Too few, and you've left money on the table. Too many, and you risk losing the crowd's focus.
When nonprofits have hosted the same event for years, it's common to reach a plateau.
Wondering how you can break through a slump and once again generate record profits?
If your event includes a live auction, a big piece of the puzzle is learning to cater to your top tier of spenders. Who has the greatest propensity to spend at your event? And how can you customize the live auction so everybody wants to participate - but only the top few percent can actually afford to?
When it comes to charity auctions, many organizers simply "don't know what they don't know." Unfortunately, a lack of professional expertise is the #1 reason events fall short of their revenue goals.
To help provide the expertise needed for success, we interviewed Cheryl Parker, certified benefit auctioneer specialist in San Diego, Calif., for a recent episode of event fundraising podcast Events with Benefits. Parker shares her simple - yet often overlooked - strategies for generating as much revenue as possible at auction events.
English author Virginia Woolf once wrote, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."
We believe the same is true for giving well.
Many fundraising events revolve around food - think evening galas with multi-course meals; golf tournaments with buffet lunches; rotary auctions with brunch and more. Why? For one thing, donors need nourishment to make it through a 4 hour event.
What's more, meals also provide the chance to sit down and socialize, celebrate your cause in community and provide an all-inclusive "fun night out" for couples and friends.
A meal's execution can heavily impact donors' experience and overall success of the event, for better or worse.
Check out practical tips for seamless food service in any event, including:
You'll also learn a neat way to generate more income for your cause from serving dinner. If you plan to feed guests, you'll want to read and bookmark today's post!
It's finally time for the annual charity ball or gala. Your guests have arrived dressed to the nines, eager for a fun evening. The energy is palpable.
The more you can cater to guests' finer tastes, the more your auction event will come across as a luxury shopping spree - and the higher bids will go!
Here are a few easy ways to help make your gala dinner a success.
Consider conducting the live auction during dinner.
Where you schedule the live auction can depend on your audience and other elements in the program, but let's first look at when not to have your live auction: late in the evening.
Suppose you’ve opened the doors to your event at 5:30 for cocktails. An hour goes by. Now people are sitting for dinner at 7. There’s wine on the table, they’re having more drinks, then enjoying a big meal and decadent dessert. All the while, folks are looking at the silent auction tables and refreshing their drinks. Suddenly it's 9:30pm and time to start the live auction. How will you go about getting everyone seated and focused?
There's a better way.
To keep the focus on fundraising at your event, you want to employ fresh and exciting income streams. One that has generated plenty of interest in our webinars: the Wildcard Auction™. This is an entertaining, fast-paced revenue opportunity that can raise tens of thousands of dollars for your cause—without requiring any extra time or resources to procure items!
Question: What do you think is the ideal number of items for a typical live auction?
6, 8, 15 or more?
We asked this in our last webinar and got a wide variety of responses:
The correct answer is indeed 8 to 12 items.
Here's why: No matter how entertaining or engaging your auctioneer may be, people will only listen to his or her banter ("25, 25, 5, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, holding at 45...") for so long. Once the crowd starts tuning out the auction, control of the room can be lost very quickly to table chatter and mingling—and the rest of the night's event revenue is in serious trouble.
Simply put, the amount of money you make in a live auction drops off the more items you have in your auction.
Now, let's say you have too many items. We have nonprofits that go above and beyond the call of auction acquisition duty and end up procuring 20, 25, even 30 items that would be suitable for live auction. What then?
And what if you've procured too few?
Read on for 4 useful solutions to common live auction problems.
Problem 1: Too many items
"Did you say 8 to 12 live auction items? We have 25! What should we do with our extra items?"
Good news: Having more than 12 high-quality items that would be appropriate for a live auction is no problem at all!
Picture this: Your procurement team has done an amazing job getting valuable items donated, reserved or underwritten for the live and silent auctions. You have 8 to 12 standout items ready for the live auction, including a catered dinner party at a donor's home, a flat-screen TV, sold-out concert tickets and a 5-night culinary excursion to Tuscany.
Now you need every item to bring in as much revenue as possible. Do you know how to order your live auction items to garner the highest bids?
Will you sequence your auction items in terms of increasing value? Alternate big-ticket and smaller items? Arrange by color, size, or alphabetical order? Does it even make a difference??
As fundraising auction experts, we know order matters. The simplest and most effective way to lay out your live auction: Draw a bell curve. Read on to discover how this smooth sequence keeps the audience engaged, entertained and, most importantly, eager to bid.
Start of the curve
On the left we have the "tangible zone": items that donors can typically see on the stage and take home that night. This includes household goods, electronics, food and wine and more. To get the crowd involved and comfortable bidding, start with lower-priced tangible items. One great way to use these items is in an icebreaker, as suggested by our friend and benefit auctioneer Danny Hooper in a recent webinar.
Nonprofits that host charity fundraising events have very different goals than those who attend. On one side of the fence, guests want to be entertained and have fun. On the other, nonprofits urgently need to raise money to support their mission.
To the rescue: the 3 E's of a successful fundraising event, as coined by fundraising auctioneer Danny Hooper—Entertain, Engage and Extract. These 3 simple principles allow your event to reach its full revenue potential. (For more, check out "The "3 E's" that Bridge the Gap Between Fun and Fundraising.")
Keep your guests entertained yet focused on the fundraising by providing donation opportunities they have never seen before. Read on for 3 fresh techniques to employ in your upcoming auction, whether it's in a few months or a few days. (Think your guests would be interested in bidding on a wine tree?)
If you like what you see, there's a lot more where that came from! Get more details and ideas instantly by signing up for Winspire's latest resource, Checklist Builder.
Method 1: The Super Signature Technique
This technique works like magic when auctioning off subjective items like artwork that may not have an obvious market value. See how Danny employed this technique to generate 50 times more revenue from a single photograph...