How do you engage auction guests, whip up your Live Auction, focus on your mission, keep it fresh and get those bid cards waving and so that your guest return year after year? After twenty-eight years of consulting and auctioneering exclusively for fundraising auctions for all sizes and types of nonprofits, charities, schools and associations, I’ve experienced every imaginable live auction situation. This has been a record breaking year and I wanted to share six of my favorite tips so you can turbo-charge your Live Auction.
1. First and foremost, focus on fundraising! If your event has been planned like someone’s dance party where your live auction is an afterthought, you are leaving untold thousands of dollars in the room. However, if you strategically design your benefit auction as a fundraiser and purposefully create a dynamic culture for giving, more funds and goodwill for your nonprofit will be raised. Kingston Tip: Intentionally script brief compelling mission-related remarks for every speaker that show how you transform the lives of your clients. Inspire your guests to bid high and make a difference.Each one of your guests need to understand what the funds raised will support, who it benefits and the benefits of your nonprofits great work.
2. Add an inspiring this is “Why We’re Here!”Insist on making emotionally inspiring remarks about how your guests high bids will change lives. Kingston Tip: Immediately right before your Live Auction to remind supporters “Why We’re Here!”If you can effectively communicate this, you’ll rivet your guests attention and wrap people’s hearts and minds around your mission and seriously increase your guest’s generous support. Prepare your auction guests to bid generously!
3. Retain a professional benefit auctioneer. Why risk it? You and your dedicated auction committee work for months on end, then on auction night you turn your entire event over to your auctioneer. Don’t leave money in the room. Kingston Tip: Ensure success with a professional benefit auctioneer who has unique experience, proven fundraising ideas and dedication for working with nonprofits, charities and schools. You will raise more money! I typically see an average increase of 20% to 50% Live Auction revenue when I am the professional auctioneer following a year when an organization uses a volunteer, celebrity or VIP personality. Why? A professional benefit auctioneer is uniquely qualified to engage the audience, move bids along for the highest amount, focus on the nonprofit mission and create a lively and entertaining event that maximizes your fundraising where your guests are thrilled to return year after year. In fact, according to a recent National Auctioneers Association research study, auctioneers who hold the professional designation BAS (Benefit Auctioneer Specialist) raise twice the funds as other auctioneers without this important training. Remember, investing in a professional auctioneer does not cost you money —in fact, you will generate more profits and make more money. (Feel free to contact me for the names of outstanding benefit auctioneers in your part of the country.)
4. Insist on a professional fundraising-quality sound system. You must be strategic about placement of the audio speakers. Kingston Tip: Make sure that you place “individually powered” audio speakers are on stands to surround your room – not just in the front of the room. This ensures that everyone all around the room can hear equally within the room for your Live Auction. Plus, your auctioneer needs a dedicated handheld wireless microphone set to his or her voice. Remember to add a good sound system for your silent auction too — there’s a lot of noise in silent auction areas and it is critical that your bidders understand when the silent auction sections are closing and any other announcement. Not investing in a great sound system is a surefire way to lose money and lose guest attention at your auction.
5. Conduct your Live Auction far earlier than before. Do not have the live auction at the end of the evening, interest will fizzle. To keep the momentum of the auction and to narrow the focus put the live auction earlier. Kingston Tip: Conduct the Live Auction before dinner or start your Live Auction during dinner. A lively and energetic Live Auction makes for inspired bidders who spend their money happily for your cause. However, beware of the dreaded “Auction Fatigue”that can cause your fundraising auction to be dull, boring and worse of all, seriously fail to bring in the money for your cause. You recognize Auction Fatigue. It often occurs when the Live Auction is scheduled at the end of the event –when your guests are done and tired; No one can raise money when your guests are tired or driving home in their car!
6. Pre-promote Your Live Auction Items. Gone are the days where your guests will automatically come to your auction and bid high. Help your supporters to learn about and get excited about your amazing Live Auction items. Remember, hot items are trips and experiences and that means your guests need to check their calendars and prepare IN ADVANCE of your Live Auction. Kingston Tip: Create a compelling mini-promotional campaign with personal contacts, emails, letters and social media to stimulate the buzz and competition far before your fundraising event. And remember that LESS IS MORE! Hand-select fewer Live Auction items with greater value that match your guests.
To visit my site, go to KingstonAuction.com