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5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Charity Auctioneer

Posted by Ian Lauth

Hire a Certified Charity Auctioneer for your nonprofit fundraising event only if they are qualified

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:

Auctioneer Categories
  • Antiques & Collectibles
  • Appraisals
  • Art & Galleries
  • Auto & Motorcycles
  • Bankruptcy
  • Benefit & Charity
  • Boats & Water Sports
  • Business Liquidations & Office Equipment
  • Coins
  • Estate & Personal Property
  • Farm & Ranch & Livestock
  • Firearms
  • Govt. Surplus Property & Seizures
  • Heavy Equipment & Construction Machines
  • Industrial & Manufacturing Equip.
  • Intellectual Property
  • Jewelry
  • Off-Road & Recreational Vehicles
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • Land Real Estate
  • Residential Real Estate
  • Restaurant, Food & Spirits
  • Trucks, Trailers & Transportation

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 facilitate 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
  • Contracts
  • 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.

Read Next: "5 Reasons NOT to Hire a Benefit Auctioneer"

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, ask 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 can be a red flag.

Read Next: "12 Revenue Enhancers Besides Silent Auctions to Try at Your Next  Event"

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.


Need a referral for a qualified auctioneer in your area? We've got you covered! Winspire works with benefit auctioneers across the U.S. and Canada that know how to maximize revenue from every auction item. Fill out the form below and we will be happy to provide a free referral.

Request a Free Auctioneer Referral in Your State

Event Production, Benefit Auctioneer
Ian Lauth
Ian Lauth
With an extensive background in marketing development and content design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue. Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content, newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals.

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