Frequently Asked Questions
How much can we expect to earn from our auction?
There are a number of variables that you need to consider as you set your fundraising auction goals. Your gross proceeds are a factor of the number of auction items you secure, the value of the items, the number of guests at your event, and their willingness and ability to spend. There are many things you can do to jump start the auction profit such as finding an underwriter for expenses, sponsorships, donations, catalog advertising, and table sales. Your focus needs to be on raising funds. Keep this in mind when considering all other overhead costs such as decorations, entertainment, etc. Live auctions with a Fund-A-Need consistently increase revenues by 2-3 times.
What is the roll of the board in a new event?
A successful event starts with the full support and cooperation of your board. Your board members have connections or friends with connections. As a result, they play a key role in locating sponsors, donors of larger items, and people with discretionary dollars to attend your event. Make sure they all agree to this roll before deciding whether to have an event. If it’s a go, conduct a brainstorm of what items you would like for your event and who has a connection to acquire these items. Conduct a similar brainstorm to determine who to target as attendees. Remember, people give to people.
Are some items better than others for the auction?
One of a kind experiences, trips, and local celebrity meals sell well. Jewelry, art, and antiques usually sell under value. Try to shake it up and change these from year to year so your event doesn’t go stale. The best items to sell at your fundraising auction may not even be an item at all. When done correctly, Fund-a-Need is the best grossing auction “item” available.
How do you ask for a donation?
It all starts by determining what you want from someone and then asking for it. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. The most they can do is say no. Often the potential donor doesn’t realize what you even want. It will play out in one of 3 ways- Sure we can do that; No we can’t, but I would be willing to give you something else; or Sorry, wish we could but can’t this year. If they would be willing to give you something else, make sure it is something you want. If not don’t be afraid to say no and thank them for their offer. Don’t let your silent auctions fill up with haircuts, oil changes, life coachings, and portrait sittings.
What's a Fund-A-Need?
A fund-a-need is a special appeal to support a particular cause. It allows everyone to contribute at a level that is meaningful to them. Not everyone needs more stuff, so by setting up the appeal and “ask” in the correct manner spurs attendees to give from the heart. This is the most important time of the evening and when facilitated correctly, consistently raises a great percentage of the evening’s funds.
What's the #1 mistake some events make?
It may seem economical to allow a volunteer to conduct the live auction. That would be the number one mistake– not hiring a professional benefit auctioneer. Of all the expenses associated with your event, this is the one expense that actually makes you money. If you are using a volunteer, you are leaving a lot of money in your donor’s wallets. If you are going to invest the time and money to host a fundraising auction, do not cut corners on the most important job of the night. It is your one chance, maybe for another year, to generate the funds you need. The Cygnus Report on Donor Giving (2011) found that 44% of donors said they could have given more. Get a grip on this by hiring a professional benefit auctioneer.
What constitutes a professional benefit auctioneer?
Look in your local phone book and you will find a number of auctioneers. If called, most are willing to come conduct your auction. I refer to them as an auctioneer that does benefits. A benefit auctioneer probably isn’t found in the phone book. A benefit auctioneer has advanced training in conducting benefit auctions. They are in-tune to your organizations mission, what you do, who your major donors are, and serve as a conduit to transfer your mission passionately to your attendees. They provide additional consulting services and help organize the evening so no surprises occur. What they do more than pays for their services.
Are professional bid assistants necessary?
We are happy to help train volunteer bid spotters. There is a difference though. A professional bid assistant does more than holler when they see a bid. They are donor cultivators. Prior to the start of the auction they help warm up the audience. During the auction they are an extension of the auctioneer right to the donor. They bring energy to the room, react immediately to bids, extend the “ask” one more time, and keep their section having fun. They keep the action going by getting and keeping people engaged. After an item sells, they are the ambassadors on the floor. If you think hiring a bid assistant is probably too expensive, consider this: catching one or two additional bids pays for that person. Realistically you can expect a 10%, 15% or greater return on this investment.
How can we afford a consultant and a professional benefit auctioneer?
The flipside to this question is how can you not? Remember this is the one expense of your event that actually will make you money, help you cultivate new donors, and add new excitement to your event. As my instructor and mentor Kathy Kingston puts it, “we’ll make your donors fall in love with you all over again.”
There are many creative ways of collecting our professional fees without affecting the revenue from your event. We understand and help you focus on your main goal– to make the most money and to cultivate long term donors. Call us, we would be happy to show you the way.
Are there other things that will increase the success of our event?
An adequate sound system is essential for a successful fundraising auction. The type and setup of the sound system depends on the size and layout of each event. The house system or the band’s system doesn’t allow for the volume and clarity needed throughout the room. It is imperative that bidders hear exactly what is going on to feel confident enough to bid. Do not take the risk of losing any revenues at your benefit auction due to an insufficient sound system.
Lighting is also very important both for the professional benefit auctioneer and the audience. For the live benefit auction and fund-a-need, get those house lights on full. It increases the excitement and allows everyone to see. Keep the lights on the audience, not the auctioneer and bidding assistants. They need to be able to read the audience.
Ideally a fundraising auctioneer should be placed on a stage that does not have seating behind or to the sides of it. Audience visibility is key. When a charity auction event has a platform or stage that is in the middle of the crowd, more professional bid spotters will be required to attend to the audience.
Do you provide other services besides benefit auctioneering?
Yes, Fundraising Auction Specialists is a full service professional benefit auctioneering and consultation business. Contact us and we would be happy to discuss your needs and what we can do to help.
What We Offer
We’ll work with you however needed. Our staff understands that each organization has different needs and dynamics.
- We’ll help you design your event to maximize your benefits and conduct your live auction and special appeal.
- We’ll walk you through the process of starting and implementing a successful benefit auction in one of our workshops.
- We’ll provide consultation to help you with your special needs.
- We’ll connect you with industry professionals and companies.