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July 17, 2015 Don’t Leave the Details Up to Chance

Don't Leave the Details to Chance

I am the coordinator for our 100 year anniversary celebration for our family auction business, J. P. King Auction Company.   I’m working on creating the timeline and invitation list, securing the venue, caterers, photographers, visual aids and entertainment. Lately I’m constantly reminded that our nonprofit clients go through this same process when preparing for their fundraising events. But there is a difference in that J. P. King’s event is truly a “friend-raising” occasion because our friends and family will simply be joining us in our celebration.  Nonprofits conducting fundraising events should be of a totally different mindset.  While your organization is always friend-raising for mission awareness, the ultimate goal is to raise funds for your cause.

Here are some specific items nonprofits should spend their money on for a fundraising event.

Audio/Visual – Some of the biggest mistakes we see nonprofits make is trying to save money on the sound system at their event. I have never seen the house sound system at a venue meet the minimum standards for an auction.  These types of systems may work just fine for a business presentation but they just will not accomplish the job at an auction event. It is imperative that guests be able to hear the auctioneer. Make sure the venue has audio with clear sound that is loud enough to be heard by all of the guests.  I tell my clients that if you do not invest in a proper sound system for your event you don’t need a professional auctioneer – the guests simply won’t be able to hear or understand what’s going on during a live auction without a quality sound system in place.

Professional Fundraising Auctioneer –Equally important as a good sound system is your auctioneer.  With a little research you can find that there are many great auctioneers available to you but it’s essential that you choose one with fundraising experience. Your events are very different than a commercial auction attended by bidders who frequent auctions often.  I encourage you to hire auctioneers who hold the National Auctioneers Association (NAA) designation of Benefit Auctioneer Specialist (BAS).  Auctioneers and their staff who have the BAS designation have been educated how to serve nonprofit organizations by the very best instructors in the country on this subject.  Designees learn many money-making ideas to bring to nonprofits that will help them generate more revenue at their fundraising events.  I am a proud recipient of the NAA’s BAS designation.

Software – Auction software is a timesaver (some clients say it’s a lifesaver!) and a great investment for a nonprofit who conducts any event.  Most software is not auction specific but can be used for any type of fundraising event.  These programs can help with the creation of donation and thank you letters; forms (including live and silent auction bid sheets); and can track ticket sales, donations, and event revenue plus so much more.  Some companies offer this software for purchase, others sell a license to use the software.  Ask your fundraising professional for recommendations then determine which one of these companies offers the package that best fits your situation and needs.

Venue – Last but by no means least be sure to select a venue that is optimum for your needs. You’ll want it to be easily accessible with plenty of parking for the guests. Put everything you expect from the coordinator you work with at the venue in writing so you’ll have a paper trail of the details for your fundraising event location.

Hosting an event is much more than inviting guests to attend and having fun.  It takes a lot of work and planning to pull it all together but the end results are more than worth the effort. Don’t leave the details to chance.

Make every minute a revenue generating minute!

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