When your fundraising event countdown passes the 3-month mark, it's a good time to celebrate what you have accomplished and make final pushes to reach your goals. How will you ramp up your social media strategy? Which potential event sponsors and underwriters haven't yet responded? How many Fund-a-Need pre-donations have been collected?
That's a lot of priorities to balance at once.
To help you make the most of every opportunity, check out the final installment of pre-auction checklists to be released on Winspire News. Created in conjunction with benefit auctioneer Stephen Kilbreath, learn what should typically be accomplished with 1 to 3 months to go.
- Advertise big-ticket auction items. Featuring exciting, premium auction items in your website, email blasts and social media posts sells more tickets and encourages higher bids. Use plenty of sensory details, images and short video clips to describe each item.
- Promote the Fund-a-Need and secure pre-donations. While many purchases in an auction are impulse buys, the more you can market a special appeal in advance, the more prepared guests will be to pledge cash.
Before the event, contact your biggest supporters to determine who would be willing to contribute to the special appeal and at what amounts. This will give you an idea of how much money you'll need from the rest of your audience to meet your goal, plus help kick off momentum for the appeal.
- Plan Live & Silent Auction displays. Think about how intricately window displays are designed to attract attention. Take the time to create beautiful displays for your Live & Silent Auction items, and it will pay big dividends. One idea: Rather than laying everything flat on a table, create dynamic 'landscapes' for Silent Auction displays by placing items on boxes of varying sizes.
- Choose revenue enhancers. From wine trees to the Wildcard Auction to a Super Silent Auction and more, there are dozens of ways to raise more money besides the live auction and special appeal.
- Set the event agenda. Following a rigid, minute-by-minute program is key to eliminating confusion, keeping everyone's focus on the biggest money makers, and respecting donors' time. Events that run like a Swiss clock raise more money than those that lag behind.
- Secure table captains. These are people assigned to help fill their table with friends, family, coworkers and other contacts. Provide table captains with the collateral and language they need to attract the right people to your event: those who can further contribute to your cause.
- Set a catalog print deadline. One of the best ways to encourage more bidding on your biggest and best auction items is by showcasing them in a charity auction catalog. Once you have most live auction items set, prepare and print your catalog well in advance. Click here to download a free auction catalog template.
- Finalize event sponsorships and underwriters. There's still time to sponsor your event! Unless you get a hard “No,” make sure you are following up with potential sponsors every few weeks. Perhaps they are interested in customizing a package not originally offered.
- Prepare or order bid cards/numbers. Even if you're using mobile bidding technology in the silent auction, bid cards still raise more money in the fund-a-need and live auction.
- Work with your auctioneer to set the live auction item sequence. How will you order your live auction items? One popular strategy is to put items in a 'bell curve' of value. (See: This Live Auction Sequence Works Like Magic to Maximize Bids.) Also check with the auctioneer regarding auction packages and revenue enhancers.
- Finalize volunteers for the evening. Who are your volunteers? What are their roles? What volunteer gaps must be met by event day? Start planning a volunteer rally to explain everyone's roles and go over the event schedule.
- Finalize plans for check-in and check-out services. Leave plenty of time in the program for checkout; volunteers on the checkout team need enough time to process bid sheets and get people out the door. If you're working with an auction software company, guests can pre-register their credit cards to save time. Mobile bidding software also allows people to pay right on their phones.
- Encourage attendance! To boost ticket sales, consider offering tiered pricing, early-bird ticket sale raffles, premium tickets closest to the stage, or double-ticket packs only. Increase the frequency of social media and email event promotion.
Also smart: Set multiple ticket sale checkpoints, or deadlines, for everyone selling tickets. This allows you to monitor sales and, if necessary, push harder while there's still time to do so.
Thank you for following along with our series all about pre-auction checklists. Stay tuned for the release of the final version, an Ultimate Auction Checklist, with even more resources and ideas.
Special thanks to Stephen Kilbreath, benefit auctioneer, for sharing his expertise on these resources. To check out a full webinar with Kilbreath, "3 Ideas to Maximize Revenue from Your Benefit Auction," click here.