Building A Better Auction

 Notice the napkins folded as a Santa hat. This auction planner found this idea on Pinterest as a sailboat napkin and modified it for her holiday charity auction. 

Notice the napkins folded as a Santa hat. This auction planner found this idea on Pinterest as a sailboat napkin and modified it for her holiday charity auction. 

You can build a better auction.  A better auction might just mean more profits and more fun for everyone. Profits and fun translate into deeper relationships and that visibility delivers everything we seek for our charity.  

A charity auction is the only fundraising model that easily recognizes the efforts of every human in the room on auction night. The model is a marketing bonanza for your organization's message. Little is required of your guests and if you pay attention to my advice the busy work and effort can be greatly reduced. Planners need to be willing to break away from some of the dopey best practices vendors recommend. The fact is vendors handicap clients by their own limitations and desire to reduce labor and costs. Most are considering their bottom line over yours and miss the point of the fundraising aspects of your auction. As an auction planner, you can literally monetize every activity and create something special that grabs the attention and wallets of all participants. 

If you are a regular reader of my blog posts, you've already read multiple times that I'm not crazy about vendors who tout "best practices". The charity auction method is a versatile and flexible method that should be designed with known limitations and strengths unique to your organization. In short, do what you want to do and have the courage to do something different and finesse what is already working by cloaking it in a different dress.

 This holiday charity auction was enhanced by a Christmas video muted, playing during the silent auction timeline.

This holiday charity auction was enhanced by a Christmas video muted, playing during the silent auction timeline.

The charity auction method is immune to best practices 

Every auction idea and profit center should be tested against just a few ground rules.

  • Is the idea irresistible?
  • Does it honor participants: donors, guests, sponsors, volunteers, recipients and staff?
  • Does it provoke the intended response?
  • Do you have the resources to pull it off?

Many auctions are pulled together by one champion auction chair. That person has limited resources. Every profit center should be chosen around her time and her resources. I have clients who don't have the connections to get sponsors and don't have the volunteers to execute a procurement campaign. They are one woman shows all the way. They may choose to only hold a live auction, fund-a-need and raffle. These are the 3 easiest profit centers to plan and execute. That means the live auction may have as many as 60 items. If the items are uncomplicated they will sell in 60-90 seconds. The silent auction timeline is shortened to 45 minutes and is more of a cocktail time for marketing the items, the organization's message and selling raffle tickets. During the "silent auction timeline" everyone associated with the organization as a volunteer and employee becomes an ambassador and shares the accomplishments while making guests feel welcomed and honored.  

 Santa roamed the silent auction arena. This Santa was the real Santa with a big voice "HO HO HO". He was wonderful.

Santa roamed the silent auction arena. This Santa was the real Santa with a big voice "HO HO HO". He was wonderful.

Granted, many auctioneers are uninteresting and poorly trained. They don't have the experience to make recommendations or the skill to keep your audience engaged. And many regurgitate best practices and outdated training if they have any at all. And many have never executed the suggestions they make or understand the tasks involved from beginning to end. They are basically talking heads.

I enjoy collaboration and inventing new profit centers and repackaging working ideas.  This is how trends are started and why the charity auction method has raised billions upon billions for charities for the past two decades. If your charity auction has become a pain the butt and needs rejuvenation, let's talk

 Guests were invited to take photos seated in Santa's chair.

Guests were invited to take photos seated in Santa's chair.