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In photography, the golden hour is the time shortly after sunrise or before sunset when daylight is redder, softer, and perfect for capturing precious memories. In medicine, it's the first hour after serious injury. Time is of the essence, and the earlier emergency treatment is administered, the better. In charity fundraising events, the golden hour is the peak time of your program to launch the #1 revenue generator of the night: the live auction.
Whether it's your first gala or your tenth - whether you've prepared for one year or one month - on the night of your fundraising event, you never know quite what's going to happen. There's a lot of shifting dynamics from the moment the doors open until the last guest leaves. So it's imperative to have someone experienced with a birds' eye view leading the way - and the most important person in the room that night will be the fundraising auctioneer. Unlike amateur emcees or other types of auctioneers, benefit auctioneers are highly trained and have special expertise to extract the most money from the room possible. "A good benefit auctioneer eats, sleeps and breathes fundraising auctions," explains Scott Robertson, certified benefit auctioneer specialist from Naples, FL. "We make it our practice to study events, timelines, human psychology, all the things necessary to make one particular event a success." With an estimated 90 percent of benefit auctioneers providing pre-event consultation, more and more nonprofits have discovered event fundraising knowledge is power - power that puts more money into your charity’s pocket. Read on for Robertson's tried-and-true techniques for maximizing live and silent auction revenue, then listen to the entire 40-minute Events with Benefits podcast episode embedded at the end of this post.
We hope you enjoyed our recent three-part webinar series all about auction timelines. Three parts? you might be asking. Is planning the night's agenda really as important as event must-do's like procuring donations, handling logistics and promoting the event? Read on as benefit auctioneer Scott Robertson shares his firsthand experience of what can go wrong if you don't create (and adhere to!) a streamlined agenda: "I recently did an auction at a school event. These typically draw younger crowds that start the cocktail hour earlier and have so much fun talking to each other, it's hard to get them seated. Since no one was in charge of the timeline, they fell behind 15 minutes. Then the organization refused to start the event until everybody was seated, which cost another 10 minutes. Fires continued having to be put out here and there, until we were a full 40 minutes behind schedule. Finally, we got the ball rolling on the live auction. Their plan was to only do a few items, and to do it before dinner. Now that's all well and good. The only problem? They forgot to tell the dining room manager and chef we were lagging 40 minutes behind. A donor was bidding on a gorgeous $25,000 diamond necklace, and just as she was about to place another bid, suddenly here come the entrees. In the middle of a live auction, she was presented with a huge piece of beef rib! There was commotion at the table, the waiter was standing in front of her, she was looking back and forth between me and the waiter... It was awkward and overwhelming. She stopped bidding. I bet this particular event missed out on $100,000 because of the auction timeline mishaps. That’s real money, and it's painful to watch." A sloppy agenda or mistimed auction can end up being your event's greatest cost. In today's post, learn 3 reasons a sloppy auction timeline can hurt your bottom line, plus concrete strategies to plan and get an off-kilter timeline back on track.