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Top 10 Reasons Fundraising Auctions Don't Raise Money

Posted by Ian Lauth

Top Ten Reasons Fundraising Auctions Don't Raise Money!

Fundraising auctions are a lot of work. They’re only worth the effort if they pay off in a big way. If your last event didn't meet your financial expectations, perhaps it’s because:

1. You focused on the decorations, dinner and dancing rather than the auction items.

You want to show attendees a good time, but only so they’ll spend more. 

2. You failed to promote your stuff before and during the event.

Get them salivating. Encourage them to plan their bidding strategy. Publish periodic pre-event hot sheets and include plenty of detail about live items in your auction program. These are things that will entice people to spend more, turning items from wanted to must-haves.

3. Your items were run-of-the-mill. Who cares?

Tantalize them with things they can’t get at the mall. Experiential, unique and personalized. If it’s about them, they’ll pay more.

Download our free list of over 300 amazing auction item ideas

4. You squelched their willingness to spend.

Double or triple your money by allowing multiple bidders to purchase highly-contested big-ticket live auction packages.

5. You didn’t have enough spotters.

Find volunteers who can tell a serious bidder from a gesticulating novice, and enough of them to easily monitor their section of the audience. Also, turn up the lights so they can see. Seeing who’s bidding inspires others to bid, too.

6. You forgot it’s the live auction that brings in the big dough.

Items don’t all need to be super-expensive, but they have to inspire the greatest competition. Prominently display live items using poster boards or a projector in a looping PowerPoint during the silent auction.

7. Your silent auction was a bone yard.

Did we mention your goal is to make money? Inexpensive items by definition don’t cut it, wasting valuable table space. Use them sparingly to give the low-spenders a way to contribute or bundle them to create more attractive items.

8. You didn’t ask people to give.

Always include a “give now” opportunity during the live auction. Also called a "special appeal" or "fund-a-need", these giving opportunities are best positioned when the audience is sitting down and paying attention.

Read Next: "Fund-a-Need 101: 4 Steps to Execute a Smooth Cash Appeal"

9. You let your event drag on.

Attendees want to be seen, snare their targeted items and get home before the baby-sitter gets cranky. That’s why your most primo live item should not be the last one auctioned off.

10. You hired the wrong auctioneer.

Professionals know what they’re doing. It’s their “day job” to make the most money from auctions. That guy that lives down the street from your Board chair is a nice and enthusiastic man, but the fact that he’ll work for free doesn’t qualify him for this critical role at your auction. You cannot afford – literally – to scrimp here. Hire a professional benefit auctioneer.

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

Event Production, Benefit Auctioneer, Fund A Need
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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