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When it comes to hosting a successful fundraising auction, few can do it alone. You'll need several passionate, organized committee chairs with a laser-sharp focus on specific aspects of your event. What are the most essential event chair roles and responsibilities? And how can you find the right person for each job?
Successful charity auctions require high quality auction items. Step one: assembling your procurement team. Like any legendary group of heroes - think Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Super Friends - your committee is faced with a seemingly insurmountable task. To succeed, you'll need driven, creative people who demonstrate tenacity and come from all different backgrounds. Most importantly, they must be willing to step up for your cause when it counts.
When you think of putting on the annual charity auction, 5K Fun Run, golf tournament and more, do you get excited? Or are you more like one organizer who described it like this: "I feel like someone emptied a jigsaw puzzle on top of my desk and now expects me to put it together - without the box."
One of the first steps in planning a fundraising auction is assembling the procurement committee. This team of dedicated supporters is given one task, and one task only: to procure unique items that cost little to nothing up front and are valuable enough to drive ticket sales and bidding. Let's face it: The procurement process is daunting, no matter how established your organization is or passionate your team may be. Fortunately, with careful planning and organization, any nonprofit can procure items that fetch high bids.
We've all heard April showers bring May flowers, but those in the nonprofit world know what else spring brings: a peak time for event fundraising. Preparation for galas, raffles and auctions has already begun filling the calendars of many nonprofits. Auctions in particular can raise significant revenue in a short amount of time, but when it comes to procuring auction items that actually attract bidders, it's hard to know where to start.
Charity event chairs (great tongue twister!) love to have as much help as they can get when planning and executing events. Whether planning for a large gala this fall or a golf scramble this summer, utilizing volunteers will help your event thrive and benefit your nonprofit organization in plenty of other ways.
Developing a professional procurement packet for your auction committee will benefit both your team and the businesses they solicit for auction item donations. For your team, a procurement packet provides a way to stay organized, professional and on task. Prospective donors (businesses who you ask to donate an item for your auction), on the other hand, will appreciate being presented with professional documents containing clear information, and may be more receptive to an organization who looks like they have their act together.
The key to collecting incredible auction items is a capable procurement team, but even the most skilled and connected volunteers might run into roadblocks or get too busy to find quality items. Offering your auction committee incentives shows you appreciate all they do, boosts morale and motivates them to get better donations earlier. Start by discussing potential incentives with the team – they’ll know better than anyone what motivates them. Then set procurement goals based on either the number of silent auction items or the dollar value of donations acquired. You can set goals and allocate prizes for individuals or for the entire procurement team, depending on your preference. Here are six easy ways to incentivize your procurement team for outstanding acquisitions: 1. Event Tickets Offering complementary tickets, especially for expensive dinner galas, is a great incentive for individuals who reach certain auction item procurement goals. If members from your auction committee usually work the event, reward outstanding performers with a night off to enjoy the festivities. 2. Preferred parking Preferred parking is another way to reward and recognize exceptional achievement. For events with a large number of attendees, such as school fundraisers or high-end galas, put “Reserved” signs on parking spaces for committee members who reach their goal. Or, go one step further and offer free valet for those who helped with procurement – a nice VIP touch. 3. Premium seating Offer special seating for procurement team members who are attending the event as guests. They’ll enjoy sitting at some of the best tables in the house, plus by seating the team together you’ll strengthen their relationships, which will be helpful for when they work together at future events. 4. Bidding money Set individual goals. For each achievement or goal met, provide a set amount of money for use at the live or silent auction. This can range anywhere from $75 to $300 depending on the event. Committee members can use this money to participate in the event they worked so hard to help put on, plus they might get so wrapped up in the excitement of the auction that they’ll bid even more!
When planning a fundraising event, your auction committee will meet many times throughout the year. While each of those meetings is valuable, one of the most important meetings will take place following the event: the debriefing. Debriefing or "post-event analysis" meetings are critical because they set the stage for next year’s event and play a key role in defining future success. Although it might be tempting to skip the post-auction meeting, it’s essential that you meet one to two weeks after the event to analyze how it went.
Building a solid auction item procurement committee isn’t just a matter of selecting the first people who volunteer. The individuals who make up your procurement team can have a huge impact on the items you secure for the big event, which in turn will impact how much money your event raises. Don't be afraid to be selective. An auction committee with too many people can quickly become unmanageable. While it's important to give all interested parties a chance to help your cause, not everyone is cut out for auction item procurement. Make sure you have a list of other jobs you can assign eager volunteers who want to contribute.
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