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August 21, 2015 Don’t Forget Security For Your Auction Items

Live charity auction items

We recently conducted a fundraising auction for a client where we had a very unique situation occur. All of the live auction items were displayed in the center of the reception area of a hotel where appetizers were being offered and the silent auction was being conducted. We had a diamond pendant in the live auction lineup and it was among the live auction items displayed. After we invited everyone into the main ball room for dinner and the live auction, it was discovered that someone had removed the diamond pendant from its display.

If items are stolen at an auction event, here are some actions you may want to take.

Immediately notify your auctioneer. In this case, I was minutes away from taking the stage for the auction. The team notified me and I immediately said I’d make an announcement that it had been withdrawn from the auction. I did not make a big deal about it to the guests. My announcement was short and sweet and very matter-of-fact and did not include telling the backstory, only that the item was withdrawn.

Notify hotel security and the police about the missing item. File a police report. This will help in recovery efforts should the stolen item wind up at a pawn shop or another traceable location.

Inquire with venue staff to see if there is video surveillance in the area. Most hotels have this capability and can assist the police in recovering items stolen from the premises.

Prior to events where valuable items will be included, check out your various insurance policies to see what is covered. If your nonprofit has crime coverage a stolen item might fall under that policy. If an item is lost in transit it might be covered by the donor’s insurance. Contact your nonprofits’ insurance company to see how something like this would play out should you find yourself in this predicament.

When planning your events, always have valuable items secured with someone who is trustworthy and responsible for the item. If the item is a piece of jewelry or a fur, you can have a suitable volunteer wear the item and an identifiable sash or boa and walk among the guests to showcase that particular item. The auctioneer can point out this person during the evening announcements to generate interest. Alternatively you can have a staff member or volunteer standing by the item the entire evening. This person can not only safeguard the item but can also answer questions guests may have.

Despite the fact the diamond pendant never showed back up that night, we had a great evening of fundraising and the event was considered a huge success.

Make every minute a revenue generating minute!

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