Wow, May has been an incredible month for charity auction events! Event coordinators from Phoenix, Arizona to New York are asking for advice about their upcoming auctions. Several benefit events that I have conducted in the last couple of weeks have been first-timers, organizations that have never hosted a charity auction before, and they have done incredibly well. They decided to take the chance after hearing how productive a live auction can be and put in the work. Sometimes it is even easier to help those who have never run an auction event before, because they are starting with a clean slate and are willing to set up their auction the best way rather than “the way we have always done it”. For those first-timers and even experienced charity event coordinators, I have some advice I would like to share.
Put first things first! I know you have heard it before, but this can’t be overlooked. What is the most important part of your organization’s fundraising event? Why are your volunteers putting so much work into this event? What is the goal?……..FUNDRAISING! “Squeezing in” the live auction between dinner and the band is not the best philosophy. It would be a shame to rush your auctioneer through the auction items and cut out the paddle-raiser so that the musicians that you are paying to be there can start at the right time! Make the live auction the highlight of the event and give it the priority it should have. The reason you are putting on this event is to raise money for your organization. It is so easy to get wrapped up in all the details of the event — the food you will serve, the band that will play, the decorations, the seating arrangements, the layout of the room. Don’t forget that the live and silent auction are the fundraising part of the event. The benefit auctioneer is the one thing at the event that is making you money, not costing you money. When you lay out the schedule for the night, make sure that the auctioneer has time to work with the audience, promote your cause, and bring in all the money possible.
I know that there are many distractions when planning a gala event, but don’t forget the main thing. Don’t let something that is not important push out what is!