At live auctions, who is the most important person in the room?
We believe it's your auctioneer. He or she is the "quarterback" of the night, guiding the program and extracting as much money from guests as possible. As a result, choosing whether or not to hire a professional fundraising auctioneer for your fundraising auction is one of the most important decisions you'll make in the planning process.
Check out this video from our partner and Benefit Auctioneer Specialist Danny Hooper as he explains why hiring a professional fundraising auctioneer not only makes sense—it can mean the difference between an OK event and one that brings in record profits.
As mentioned in the video, not all nonprofits realize how critical it is to hire an auctioneer trained to handle the unique needs of a charity auction. 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.
Now as more nonprofits turn to event fundraising, auctions need a host with the ability to motivate the audience to donate beyond the live auction.
Here's what we mean.
When a typical (non-fundraising) auctioneer steps onto the stage to sell an item—be it livestock, real estate, automobiles, art, heavy equipment and more—they have just one goal in mind: How much money can I get for each item?
However, a fundraising auctioneer is required to think differently. After looking around the room and assessing the crowd, the question they ask is: How much money is in the room, and how can I extract the greatest amount possible?
To do that, benefit auctioneers employ a diverse "toolkit" of skills and techniques that simply aren't used in other kinds of auctions.
For example, "Regular live auctioneers want to conduct the Live Auction portion of an event very, very quickly," Danny notes. "With benefit auctioneers, we slow things down. We throw in some entertainment, we work hard to engage the audience, and we use all kinds of strategies and different revenue opportunities."
One of the most profitable opportunities unique to benefit auctioneers is their ability to deftly propose a Fund-a-Need (donation toward a specific program or expense of the nonprofit), Fund-an-Item (underwriting a big-ticket item purchased on consignment, like travel packages) or general cash appeal.
"It's tough to stand and ask people to simply put their hands up and pledge cash," asserts Danny. It requires expertly reading and engaging the crowd, then finding the perfect opportunities to capitalize on momentum. "Fortunately, we've got that skill set."
For help finding a great auctioneer in your area, contact a Fundraising Specialist today. Our trusted auctioneer partners have years of experience maximizing revenue from consignment items.
Besides the Live Auction, other unique fundraising strategies Danny specializes in include Wildcard™ auctions, Legacy auctions, Sealed-bid auctions and more. You can learn about these different strategies and more in our 2-part webinar series.
Watch part one, "10 Deadly Sins of Charity Auctions (and how to prevent them)", here.
Bottom line: Hiring a professional fundraising auctioneer is never a cost; it's an investment that will pay incredible returns. Leaving the job to a non-benefit or volunteer auctioneer, however, could end up being your auction's greatest expense.