It’s Auction Night! Now What?

Kathy’s 8 New Strategies to Skyrocket In-room Revenue by Empowering Your Board, Staff and Volunteers

You’ve spent months planning your benefit auction gala fundraiser. Don’t just cross your fingers and hope. Adopt my simple yet powerful strategies to get those bid cards waving and to inspire greater generosity.

What your nonprofit leaders do during your event is vital to raising more money and retaining donors.

Does this sound familiar? Do your committee members and board members congregate together during the cocktail hour and silent auction and talk among themselves. Then during dinner and fundraising program, it’s the same, they continue to sit together and continue talk among themselves. Creating a warm welcoming environment, building relationships with donor and sharing meaningful gratitude are essential to transform event guests into loyal year round donors.

So, who are your leaders? Consider each person: board members, Head of School, staff, faculty, auction and gala committee members, table hosts, sponsors and key donors and even students and alumni.

Create a donor engagement plan for your event night.

Write specific responsibilities for each of your leaders. Hold a training and remind each person before your event. Use my 8 new strategies to guide your new plan.

  1. First, treat every guest as a donor

Your fundraising gala and auction is a golden catalyst for donor engagement. So let’s change the paradigm to a “donor-focused approach” to benefit auction bidding and giving!  In the room or under the tent, here are my strategies that you can use right now.

  1. During Cocktail Hour and Silent Auction

Create the expectation that your board, staff, committee members and volunteers will actively participate. Ask your nonprofit leaders to adopt a personal approach. Go to at least three people you do not know, introduce your self, ask how the guest is connected to the nonprofit and share your passion about the impact of your organization. Thank them for coming and supporting the cause. Bring guests to your “Mission Stations” and staff to learn more about your great cause. Showcase the Silent & Super Silent Auctions & Live Auction display. Talk about what your guests might like to buy. Encourage guests to sign up for any additional revenue activities such as Party Board Experiences, Raffles, Wine Pulls etc. Introduce your guests to other board members and sponsors and donors.

  1. Speed Into the Ballroom or Tent

Be the FIRST to take your seats and guide your guests to do the same. Help invite other guests into the tent along the way. Guests will wait to do what your leaders do. The quicker you move into the main room for fundraising, the more funds you will raise. Set the pace.

  1. Prepare Your Guests to Be Generous

During dinner and the live auction and fund a need, guide conversations to focus on your nonprofit or school impact. (This is not a social catch up time to talk about shoes, chit chat etc…) Invite everyone at your table to get out and view the auction program catalog and peak interest in the live auction items. Ask each person what they would like to buy. For Fund a Need, explain how it works and that everyone can give at a level meaningful to them. Also it’s great to suggest that it’s easy that your entire table, 100% of at your table can give to your cause.

  1. During the Live Auction

Actively encourage bidding. Talk to your table guests. Say YES, thank you for bidding again. Cheer, clap and nod your head. Get up out of your chair, walk around show your gratitude for winning bidders and back up bidders too. Keep smiling and encourage “Philanthropic Bidding” I’ve named that bidding OVER the value of the live auction item! Show heartfelt gratitude

  1. During Fund a Need

Exude gratitude. Consider your own personal gift and raise your bid card proudly. Explain how the funds will be used to impact your great cause. Keep up the energy and clap and cheer as more and more gifts are made. Thank each donor at your table and surrounding tables personally. It’s okay to get up from your table and thank people. Explain how every single gift is meaningful.

  1. Be the Last to Leave

The end of your fundraising event is a very important time for your leaders to be visible and active. This is a critical time to show your gratitude. Ask your leaders to be available to listen to guests and donors. Ask: what was your most memorable moment? Be available to receive: some donors wish to give anonymously or personally to a board member, gala chair or executive director.

  1. Show Heartfelt Thanks Immediately

Walk around, say thank you to each person. Consider stopping at each table to show your gratitude. Invite guests to come back next year and to bring their friends. Use “donor-focused language” YOUR gift make it possible to ______ (fill in how their gift will be used to impact your organization.) YOU did it! We couldn’t do it without YOU!

What about you?

If you have more great ideas to empower your leaders, drop me a note or call

If I can ever help you or a colleague or friend, I’d love to hear from you. I always offer a complimentary consultation. Referrals are the greatest compliment.   603-235-1196   Thank you!


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