Would it surprise you to know that many fundraising auction organizers and gala committees unknowingly cause “Bidder Fatigue?” What’s that? Bidder Fatigue is a fundraising plague where your beloved guests become exhausted by poor planning at fundraising auctions and events. This results in loss of dollars and donors to your organization. The symptoms are easy to spot: Loss of money. Lack of bidding. Too much talking. Walking around. Hanging out at the bar or hallway. Leaving early. What’s even worse? Lack of donor retention.
What causes Bidder Fatigue? Lack of strategic planning. Wrongly placing the Live Auction and Fund a Need at the end. Too many items. Too much BS: boring speeches. Talking heads at your program. Volunteer amateur auctioneer. Inadequate sound system. Lack of focus on mission impact. Not communicating the impact of the donors generous bidding and contributions. Lack of immediate gratitude. How can you avoid the dreaded Bidder Fatigue? Read my article here for some tips.
Don’t Lose The Race Between Time and Money
Your guests expect to attend a lively, fun, upbeat and profitable fundraising event to support your great cause. Attention spans are short, so keep things moving. Your organization cannot make money if the guests are gone. If guests are bored or there’s been too much lag time, their attention will go somewhere else. We want to keep them focused on your mission and why they should support you generously at the auction.
Your guests want to be inspired about a cause the impassions them. Bring your mission and it’s impact into every aspect of your event. Be explicit. Don’t just let anyone say anything they want when he or she has the microphone. Be strategic in how you write the inspiring remarks for speakers. Be shorter. One or two minutes of inspiring remarks or a personal story is enough.
Retain a Professional Benefit Auctioneer and Consultant
Why risk it?
In my experience, organizations can raise 20% and much more by partnering with a professional auctioneer who specializes in fundraising. Retaining a professional benefit auctioneer is not a cost. It’s an investment. A professional fundraising auctioneer specialist is a distinct asset to your core leadership team, not a liability expense on a spreadsheet.
How much money are you leaving in the room? It makes me scratch my head when an organization tells me they will be using a VIP, a celebrity, a parent, a media personality, a magician, or even a commercial auctioneer for their charity auction because it’s cheaper. This short-sighted approach is a common misconception and represents a devastating way to leave money in the room and lose long-term connections to your beloved donors.
PS: Retain your professional benefit auctioneer ASAP, many are booked months and even years ahead. Good fundraising auctioneers are ALWAYS in demand.
Win the Race Between Time and Money
Play It Out on Paper First. First, make sure that you plan your show flow timeline for your benefit auction event on paper. It will probably take several drafts to finesse the actual show flow or written timeline. There are layers to show flow, so make one column for the timeline, one column for elements of the event and a separate column for the productions details like AV and food and volunteer duties.
Insist On A Seamlessness Timeline
When it’s time to start, you must insist that your event runs with no lag time. The biggest enemies of fundraising are boredom and distraction. Strategic show flow timeline can help you position your mission in the best way possible. Intentionally design and build a high level of excitement and your mission, creating momentum that will crescendo with the fund-a-need.
Fundraise Even Earlier
If you are conducting your Live Auction and Fund a Need after dinner, you have already lost money. Consider moving up these powerful fundraising elements to earlier in the program. Many of my most success clients are actually raising more funds by holding the Live Auction and Fund a Need before serving dinner. While this many not work for everyone, be strategic about positioning your powerful fundraising elements earlier than ever.
A Fundraising Quality Sound System
Insist on investing on the best sound system for fundraising. Hire a professional sound system that is designed for fundraising (not dancing.) This means that each guest can distinctly hear ever word from every speaker and every word from your professional auctioneer during the Live Auction and Fund a Need. Insist on high quality audio equipment and the very best sound technician of the A/V company. Insist on audio speakers on stand that surround your entire audience. You want and need each guest to hear and to be inspired to raise the most funds possible.
No BS! No Boring Speeches
No talking heads! My number one rule for show flow is “No BS!” By that I mean, “No Boring Speeches!” Why? In benefit auction events, time is money, and boring speeches will cost you—not make you— money. I’ve developed formulas you can use to calculate how many dollars per minute and per square foot you want to make.
To calculate the dollars per minute you need to make in your benefit auction event, simply divide your target fundraising goal amount by the number of minutes that will elapse from the second your doors open until the event’s triumphant ending.
If your event drags out and is not well-orchestrated, it can cost you much needed revenue for your cause, and you run the very high risk of losing the interest of your audience in the short and the loss of donors in the long term.
Brief, Inspiring Remarks
Here’s my special rule: Anyone who holds the microphone for more than one or two minutes is eating into prime fundraising time. This is important to understand from a financial standpoint, but it’s also important from a momentum standpoint. To illustrate how crucial this rule is, please take out a piece of paper and write the word “SPEECHES” on it in large letters. Then, take your pen and scratch it out as hard as you can. Replace it with the word “BRIEF INSPIRING REMARKS.” Ask the chairperson of the board who will tee up the live auction to make brief inspiring remarks instead of a speech or keynote address. Ask your client who will tell her first-person story for your Fund a Need to make first-person inspiring remarks. That phrasing alone will make a huge difference in the expectation of everyone participating in your event.
Create an Unforgettable Inspirational Moment
To raise more fund and engage more donors, it’s vital that you can create that compelling emotional mission moment during your Fund a Need. Consider an emotional inspirational first-person story about how your organization changed the speaker’s life. For example, this could be a compelling true story about how one of your rescue animals found his or her forever home or how one of your alumni benefitted from your outstanding education. (For more more ideas on Fund a Need and using inspirational fundraising stories, feel free to read more in Chapter 13 of A Higher Bid.)
Your guests will be inspired and more generous when you include a 2 minute transformational story. The goal is for your guests understand the impact of their gift. When you are strategic with your show flow and intentional with keeping your mission front and center throughout your program you’ll raise more funds and engage more donors.
Need More Help?
If I can ever help you design your fundraising event, auction and gala, feel free to contact me. I’d love to help you raise more money, engage donors and break your fundraising record! Kathy Kingston firstname.lastname@example.org 603-235-1196