After working with numerous organizations and planning many fundraising auctions, we found that there are a few steps that are essential for bringing in the most funds for your organization. These often overlooked strategies will be sure to make your auction easier to plan, more fun for your guests & incredibly successful. This post is a little lengthy but we know from experience that when you’re responsible for planning a fundraising event, tips and tools are your best friend!
Auction Item Signs
Guests want to know what they are bidding on. Giving your guests information about the auction items is crucial to the success of receiving high bids. Take the time to create a good looking template for your silent and live auction items by including a themed background, images, detailed information, restrictions, item number and price. Place each sign in an acrylic frame close to the bid sheets and your guests will be well informed and happy to bid.
Fully Hosted Venue
It is with good intentions that people want to save money and have their auction at a self service hall but please consider the following before signing that contract. A fully hosted venue will provide more than just a nice room, food, drinks & clean up. By the time you hire a caterer, purchase drinks and rent tables & chairs you may find that the final price is comparable if not more expensive to a full service venue. The time you will save is better spent on creating a beautiful event for your guests and collecting valuable donations. We have found that having fully hosted events actually increased the overall revenue. This may be due in part to the volunteers not feeling too burnt out to bid on auction items!
Acquiring great donations is the most important part of a great auction. You sent out your letters and donations are coming in but do you have enough? And are they popular items? Think of the area you live in what auction items will create excitement with your guests. We live in a beach town so some donation requests are focused on surfing and beach gear items along with fun experiences including boating and beachfront hotels. Create a Donations Team with volunteers that are go-getters. These are the type of people who are not afraid to ask for what they want. Most merchants want to help with local fundraisers but are busy and need the extra prompt.
Auction Item Packages
Even though guests are happy to donate to a good cause, they also love to feel like they are receiving items at a discounted price. This is where Auction Packages come in handy. Guests will go into bidding wars over well planned packages and will likely pay over face value. Some examples of great packages are things like a date night, children’s birthday parties & pampering for the ladies.
Items for Sale
There is no better time to sell items from your non-profit than an auction gala. Guests are there because they believe in your cause and want to support it financially. Having some items for direct sale brings in a nice cash revenue stream and instant gratification for your guests. Items to consider selling are customized wine glasses, T-shirts, Children’s individual art pieces and anything else that is personalized or unique to your organization.
Get your guests excited about your event by creating some buzz. Send out an electronic version of your program with highlights of live and silent auction items and information about the theme and entertainment. Create a facebook event page and ask guests and volunteers to share it with their contacts. Add daily/weekly posts to the facebook page about ticket sales, sponsorships, Auction items & more.
Advertise your Cause
Guests at fundraising events should be consistently reminded about your cause. Create signs, posters slideshows & speeches to inform your guests of what your organization does and why the money is needed. You could include ideas such as a poster with images of kids, teachers, clients receiving help, etc. or a slide show, or small signs on each table, and have a script for the DJ/auctioneer/principal to use before the live auction.
At the end of every live auction there should be a specific Fund-A-Need that the auctioneer talks about. Your guests want to help your organization financially and may not have found any auction items that they wanted to bid on. This is your chance to talk about your cause and share some brief heart to heart stories of how your organization helps others. Come up with one major goal or a few smaller ones that your guests will want to be part of.
By following these 8 steps, we are confident that your next auction will be a great success.
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