Strategic Auction Item Acquisition – What Sells Best?

The top question I am asked is how do I get the best auction items that sell for the most money? By far, this is the number one area of interest for nonprofits. What sells best? Well, let’s look at this very strategically.

 If you understand who your guests are at the auction and what they want and you solicit auction items that match the audience you will be very, very successful. For example, if you are at a school auction and you know the audience is filled with parents who will do anything to support the school then your items should be filled with trips and activities and class gifts and experiences that really relate to the school and the parents. Now, in the school auction many times each class/each level will prepare a class gift, first grade/first level all the way up to whatever. Parents in the first grade are only going to bid on the first grade class art or gift. So taking that example if you knew that the first grade made these beautiful garden mosaic stepping stones and they had put their initials in those stepping stones every first grade parent will want those stepping stones because it is such a memento of their child’s activity at this wonderful school. In addition to being strategic in knowing what they want you have got to pre-promote those items to those specific guests. So that is a school auction example. A quick school auction example that is so unique is being the head of the school for the day or the principal for the day. That is very unique. That would be something that would only be sold at that particular school. It wouldn’t work for the public school down the street and it wouldn’t work for the local hospital gala.

Matching the audience wants and needs to the items is critical. Outside of the school auction example you could look at maybe a Boys and Girls Club auction. Boys and Girls Club auctions tend to have a lot of folks who are interested in the community. They like to travel. They like experiences, wine, dining out. If you know who those people are it is important to pre-promote those items too so there’s really two strategic moves here on auction item acquisition. One is match your audience, and two pre-promote specific items to people who typically like them and the way to know that is to go back into your auction data and look at who bought trips in the past, who bought experiences, who bought sporting activities, who bought kids items and then if you know your audience you can pick up the phone and say, “I know that you love to go on trips. We have got a trip to Greece at our auction and I know you have been talking about that. I just wanted to send you a link to it. Here is some more information. Isn’t this exciting?” That is how you’re strategic in getting auction items today.

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