Live Auction Profit Requires Strategic Pre-Promotion of Auction Items

I recently gave a presentation on emerging trends in auction fundraising at the National Auctioneers Association Benefit Auction Summit. Often overlooked, here’s a critical new trend that tops the “must do list” for your next charity auction: strategically pre-promote your live auction items.
Unless you intensely market your live auction items BEFORE your benefit auction, you may be leaving tens of thousands of dollars in the room. Why? Simply, because your bidders and their bidding behaviors have changed.

Your auction guests are now far more strategic and discriminating about bidding at benefit auctions that ever before. In my own experience, I have seen auction buying patterns changing. Long before you open your doors, your auction attendees need to know details of your live auction items before they will consider even bidding. Make it easy and enticing for your guests to bid high and to support your great cause.

Benefit auctions are booming! Join in! Leverage my six top ideas to raise more funds and excitement at your live auction.

  1. Starting now, personally talk up this live item to everyone who you and your committee thinks would be interested. Send them the link and photos with a personal note. Also go through your guest and winning bidder list from the last several years to see if there is anyone else who you should personally contact. During this conversation, be sure to emphasize how much the winning bidder will support the children and the impact it will have.

  3. Feature the live auction items on pre-event emails and regular mail with photos and descriptions. Be sure to include a contact phone number for questions.

  5. Design a special live auction item page on your website that features the live auction items. Make this page easy to find and irresistible.

  7. Create a highly visible display at the cocktail portion of event. There are three key elements. First, display a large color poster with photos and description in bullet format on easel in high traffic area. Next, place a gregarious well-trained “live auction concierge” volunteer with each item to answer questions and promote the item and explain how to bid. Third, include the following information on live auction display poster (live auction #__ , name of Item, donor name, company if applicable, photos, key features in bulleted format, any restrictions in bulleted format. (ie. not available during spring break week of…) Be sure to include your logo and tag line, so guests will understand the impact of their bidding.

  9. During the Live Auction, show a PowerPoint slide of each item as it being sold. Hint: showcase the information in tip #4 on the slide.

  11. Offer Absentee Bidding and Live Phone Bidding. Invite your supporters to offer an absentee bid or phone bid even if they cannot attend your fundraising auction.  (As a thank you for reading this far, email me  I’ll send you my complimentary Fundraising Auction Absentee and Phone Bid Guidelines). Offering absentee bidding is exciting and can add a new lucrative element to your fundraising.

  13. BONUS tip: Physically mail your auction catalog to the home of every guests so that it arrives in regular mail one week prior to your auction.

Do you want to take your auction fundraising to the next level? If you would like help with your live auction and promotion strategies and how to apply these ideas and more, I’d love to support you.

Feel free to contact me or by phone 603-926-1919.

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