The most successful fundraising events require plenty of advanced planning and preparation. When managing hundreds of details, auction items, different committees and volunteers, there's plenty of room for missed opportunities. And time and again we've found the more organized you are, the greater return on your investment.
To the rescue: checklists!
We partnered with benefit auctioneer Stephen Kilbreath to put together a handy pre-event checklist, organized by how many months before the event to have completed these tasks. Below we'll look at the top tasks to accomplish 10 to 12 months before your auction.
Auction Tasks: 10 to 12 Months Out
- Pick a date and venue. It's never too early to start shopping around for venues; popular places can sometimes get booked two years out! Plus, once you have potential venues in mind, it's much easier to brainstorm possible themes for your event.
- Recruit an auction chair. At the top of the leadership chain is the auction chair. This should be a well-connected, persistent person who feels comfortable answering questions and, more importantly, making decisions.
- Establish a budget. Be as detailed as possible when brainstorming and estimating expenses. Make sure it is reasonable and your spending is in line with what your group and guests can afford.
- Establish fundraising goals. The fundraising or revenue goal guides the rest of the auction planning process. Make sure it is realistic, meaning your goals are in line with what your group and guests will be willing to donate. However, keep in mind that nonprofits tend to underestimate this figure.
- Plan an admission price to your event. Remember it is a fundraiser, so set the price where seats will be filled but ticket sales can still recoup a significant chunk (if not the entirety) of the event costs. Selling out is a good problem to have – unless the price was too low.
- Hire a professional auctioneer. Since the live auction is one of the two biggest fundraising portions of the agenda (the other being a fund-a-need), hiring a professional benefit auctioneer helps you earn as much money as possible from every auction item. Make sure you set up an initial consultation, so you can go over a coheisve strategy and get to know the person you have hired.
- Develop a marketing plan. How are you going to not only spread the word about your event, but get the right people in the seats? These are donors that will both pay the ticket price to enter and contribute further at the event. Explore your donor base to see who in the past has spent the most money at your event, then target your messaging to this demographic.
- Select auction committee members. Along with the auction chair, recruit a handful of volunteers to focus on all things related directly to auction items (including procurement, set up and displays).
- PROCURE, PROCURE, PROCURE. As soon as you've decided to hold an auction, it's time for the auction team to start brainstorming and procuring wow-worthy items for the auction portion of the night. For concrete tips and resources, check out our free eBook, .
Have less than 10 months until the big day? Hosting a biennial event with more than a year to go? Keep in mind the checklist is meant to be general guidelines for what needs to start being addressed earliest in the process. It can be adjusted based on how much time you have remaining, or your specific type of event.
We hope this list is helpful as you begin preparing fully for your event. Stay tuned to Winspire News over the next few weeks, as this is just the first of 5 more checklists we can't wait to share. Finally, be sure to share these articles with your entire committee so everyone is on the same page.
Special thanks goes to Stephen Kilbreath, a 25+ year benefit auctioneer based out of Seattle, Wash., for sharing his auction timeline checklist. To check out the full webinar he recently hosted with Winspire, "3 Ideas to Maximize Revenue from Your Benefit Auction," click here.