Written by Alexandra Saavedra
Marketing Manager at Greater Giving
Imagine a scenario where you revisit previous years’ auctions and pay close attention to what types of auction packages sold well. You arm your procurement team with a list of items to ask for because you know what will be profitable and desirable. You only use the quality items or one-of-a-kind auction packages.
Your silent auction is smaller than last year, but bidding starts at sixty percent of value and everyone is excited about the auction items. Since you've done your homework and know what they want, most packages sell for their value or higher, and with a much smaller auction, item pickup is a breeze!
Sounds great, doesn it?
A general call for donations is a common practice. The problem is feeling like you have to use everything you receive. Worse, we want to accept every donated item into our auction so nobody’s feelings get hurt—and we end up with a silent auction that looks and feels more like a garage sale; lots of non-unique small packages.
It’s still important to feature a wide range of auction packages in terms of starting bid price so all bidders can participate. But focusing your efforts on a few, stronger packages can save you time, effort, and generate a higher return on investment (ROI) to put your organization’s auction on the map.
So how do I do it?
First, you have to determine what sold well in previous years. What was popular with your organization’s particular crowd?
If you’ve been keeping records yourself, calculate the profit you made on each package, and highlight those with the highest return. Remember: profit is the amount of money the package sold for over the fair-market value of the items it contains.
Using software, such as Greater Giving Event Software, you can quickly grab this information by looking at or reviewing previous year’s event. In reporting, you can run a Package Sales vs. Package Values report. This provides a list, by package, of the package’s sale price over its value, with a resulting ROI percentage. Take note of the packages with the highest ROI in your live and silent auction. Try to get similar items for the next auction.
A great way to find more general sales and ROI information, such as for a particular type of item, rather than for a specific item (or package), is through a Sales by Item Category report. It calculates the profit percentage over the value for each of your item categories, so you can tell what kinds of items sold well.
Now that you’re armed with information about what your audience likes, it’s time to focus your procurement efforts.
Make a list of local businesses specializing in the types of items you want to procure. Make phone calls to business owners, or visit them in person. Emphasize that you believe items donated by this specific business are in high demand in your community. Offer the opportunity for a donated item to get a featured slot in your smaller, high quality silent auction.
Here are some other tips for a more effective auction with fewer packages:
Offer perks! You can advertise for item donations using your Greater Giving event website. When creating your Catalog page, simply choose to display donor names, logos, and the URL. This is a great feature for local businesses to get recognition, and can help you secure the items you want for your auction.
You can also place the spotlight on choice packages. Now that you’ve freed up some time by having fewer packages in your auction, drive that bidding higher by creating attractive placards.
Consider adding Buy-It-Now to your bid sheets. You can set Guaranteed Purchase at 150% or 200% of value, so a bidder who falls in love with n auction package can secure it for a markup—which is a great final sale price!