5 Deadly Sins of Benefit Auctions

How to avoid commonly overlooked and easy to fix mistakes at benefit auctions, fundraisers and galas.

By: Kathy Kingston, CAI, BAS

Mistake #1: Leave Money in the Room

THE most expensive mistake you can make is using a volunteer amateur auctioneer. Why risk it? Retaining an experienced professional fundraising auctioneer can increase your net auction profits from 20% to over 300% immediately. Uniquely experienced and dedicated to maximizing fundraising, a professional benefit auctioneer does not cost — it pays!  

Mistake #2: Dont Ask for Funds

It’s financial suicide not to properly conduct a profitable Fund a Need Special Appeal. Let’s face it, not everyone wants or needs a live or silent auction item. Create this opportunity for everyone to contribute to your great cause at a level that is meaningful to them. Ignite generosity with a well conducted, inspiring Fund A Need that that can literally double your live auction profits in just 10 minutes!

Mistake #3: Offer Too Many Auction Items That No One Wants

This catastrophic calamity will insure that you lose thousands of dollars. First, be sure to match your auction items to the unique profile of what your auction guests really want. Second, less is more. Reduce the number of auction items and focus on fewer unique items that produce bigger results. Make sure your organization procures hot auction items that keep driving excitement and interest – items that fulfill fantasies and dream vacations and experiences the are unique to your supporters. And remember to consider adding consignment items to complement your donated items to add excitement and dollars.

Mistake #4: Plan a Party and Forget Fundraising

An epic error is to plan your auction fundraiser like it’s your social soiree, business function or even worst a wedding. Focus first on fundraising – not your centerpieces, variety of wines, entertainment nor the color of tablecloths – all which raise zero dollars. Remember, your charity auction is often one of your biggest fundraisers of the year. You simply can not afford to lose precious dollars or support in this new economy. Strategically design your benefit auction to emphasize your unique mission and how your donors can make a difference. Proudly promote your cause and emphasize that the reason “Why We Are Here” is to raise funds so that your guests can change lives and improve your community.

Mistake #5: Bore Your Audience

The quickest way to loose money and momentum at your benefit auction is to sedate your guests with a string of talking-head long speeches.  Just say No BS. (No Boring Speeches!)  Insist on a few well placed brief inspiring remarks that emphasize first person testimonials and your success stories. Capture the hearts and wallets of your guests and showcase your cause and your transformational results.

Do you have ideas and solutions for other benefit auction mistakes? Feel free to email me to add to the conversation, kathy@kingstonauction.com

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