Meeting with a benefit auctioneer


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February 13, 2015 You have HOW MANY Silent Auction Items???

silent auction

I conducted an event recently and was a bit surprised at the quantity of silent auction packages available for bid.  I had previously had conversation with this group about limiting the number of silent auction packages to one item for every three or four attendees.  I inquired with the auction chair why they wound up with so many items and she explained that a donor had dropped off a bunch of items the day before the event.  She stated she didn’t want to hurt the donor’s feelings and not include those items.

The silent auction is a funny thing.

If you have too many items, guests may not bid on all of them (leaving you with leftover items) or the packages may sell for the first (lowest) bid. If you have fewer items, the supply and demand effect will kick in. Bidders will begin bidding on items, they’ll be out-bid and, because of our natural  competitive nature, they will bid again.  Less is more in the case of a silent auction.

I strongly encourage you to adhere to your donation procurement deadlines for two reasons.  First, you keep control and won’t have a situation like the one detailed in the first paragraph. Secondly, it’s less stress on the committee members who will be tasked with preparing silent auction bid sheets at the last minute.

I encourage you to have a statement on your donation form that gives your organization an “out”.  This should read something like “(Insert your organization’s name) retains the right to sell the item in a venue that will benefit the organization the most.”  For example, a donor might say, “I want this donation to go in the live auction” and that particular item may not be suitable as a live auction item. Or this donation may be an item you don’t want to include in your gala/auction but is better suited for sale in your nonprofits upcoming garage sale.  Including this statement on your donation form gives you that “out” and the right to place the donor’s item where it will raise the most money for your organization.

Make every minute a revenue generating minute!

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