10 Recipes for Benefit Auction Success

Set Your Table for Fundraising Auction Success

Don’t let food spoil your auction fundraising!

As you swing into charity auction planning, I want share how to fortify your auction fundraising against the unfortuate rising trend of meal timing and catering blunders.

What’s happening? I’m not sure exactly why, but over 80 percent of our benefit auction clients experienced late meals and food service problems last year. You can avoid a significant loss of precious charity auction dollars and event momentum due to food service problems.

Big Deal? You bet! Plan to take control of your fundraising.

Chefs and caterers may be fabulous with food. However, many are uninitiated in the unique timing requirements for your successful fundraising auction. Auctions are different than weddings, parties and corporate functions where fundraising is never the norm.

Remember, if you time your auction based on food service AND if the food service is late, you jeopardize your auction profit.  Remember, when your auction guests become distracted, hungry or leave early… so does their generous bidding. You can never make up that loss of income.

First and foremost, YOU must communicate your expectations and intricate timeline with your catering staff and event planners before and during your auction. Invite them to be a part of your fundraising team, teach them about your cause and their impact on raising funds that night.

Successful benefit auctions demand a crescendo of momentum, precise timing and tight teamwork.

Here are 10 vital recipes to insure you maximize your benefit auction fundraiser.

  1. Write out timeline minute-to-minute.  Work closely with the caterer for the exact food service timing. Explain how course or food station fits in with your program and auction timing.
  2. Meet with the caterer, review your needs, get a written proposal and final contract and final timeline. Underscore they key food service timing.
  3. Plan to stay on time. Appoint a key leader to communicate with the banquet captain in the kitchen on auction night.  Meet with caterer and key staff several hours prior for final details.
  4. Conduct your Live Auction during dinner. Go ahead. If you wait until after dinner it’s too late.  Just like dinner-theatre.
  5. Hold service at during Fund A Need Explain there will be a few critical times that you need to hold all service, such as during your inspiring testimonials and your all important Fund a Need.
  6. Serve dessert when is does not distract fundraising. Really. Assign a trusted volunteer to stand by the kitchen door and let servers know when it’s OK to bring dessert.
  7. Invite the servers to be part of your event. Announce the courses and thank the chef. Make it fun.
  8. Ban buffets. Consider a sit-down dinner OR food stations interspersed with silent auction tables instead. This way you can still raise money with silent auction and other interactive profit making activities while guests enjoy strolling, noshing and bidding.
  9. Avoid heavy pasta stations and turkey carving stations. (Hint: think what happens after Thanksgiving dinner  zzz…)
  10. Thank your caterers, hospitality staff, servers and chefs. Their kind and team-spirited support makes ALL the difference to your fundraising success.
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