One of the most commonly asked questions I get asked by non profit groups is how they can maximize their fund raising efforts at their events with Silent &/or Live Auctions. Now I am not a professional fund-raiser but I’ve certainly seen enough auctions both successful and others less so to pick up what I think are the 5 tricks to success. Here they are in no particular order :
- Have auction items that appeal to your guests. Auction items must appeal to the guest who have bought a ticket to the event. Knowing the demographics of your event attendees is very important. If you can obtain items for your auction that are both within the price point and interest of your guests you have a greater chance of raising significant $$.
- Merchandise Merchandise Merchandise. Display your auction items to their best advantage – People want to see what they are buying. Make sure to take items (i.e. a flat screen TV) out of their boxes and remove the plastic wrappers. Make sure items that are not physically present (gift cards, travel, etc..) have alluring and graphically interesting presentation posters. Also make sure your auction table items are merchandised at varying heights so that the display is interesting enough for the eye to scan the whole table and not want to miss anything.
- Add a “Buy Now” option – this is usually set at the full retail value of the item or 10% above the full retail value. This allows a serious bidder to stake the item as theirs and guarantees you reach your funding target for the item. Having guests at your event realize that a Silent or Live Auction does not = garage sale prices will also go a long way.
- Build up excitement and bidding. Your last live Auction item should be the climax! During your event lead up to the main auction with a smaller teaser auction. Pick items with a smaller price point that are sure to go for full value. this builds up bidding excitement and gets the room primed for the main auction which will help you raise more $$.
- Send them an Auction teaser. Educate your guests with what’s available for auction in advance of the event. If they know about the fabulous items in advance they come prepared to bid on the item(s) they really want. For larger value items they may even put together a group to bid on it to split the cost (ie a vacation cabin rental, harbour yacht cruise, etc…) Here’s an example of one of my clients that’s doing it right A Loving Spoonful’s Project Empty Bowl.
These are just some tricks you can use to ensure auction success. There are many more and are unique to your auction, charity and the actual event. Please feel free to share your ideas.