March 24, 2017 Don’t Keep Your Silent Auction Winners in the Dark
How often have you facilitated a fundraising event and had winners of silent auction items leave without paying for said items? It happens all of the time. Why do you think this is the case?
Most often, it’s not because the winning bidder chose to skip out without the item. This usually happens when the guest isn’t aware that they won a silent auction package. If you implement mobile bidding in your silent auction you most likely prevent this situation because the winners are notified by text about the items they’ve won.
But what if your nonprofit facilitates the silent auction via a manual process? How are you going to notify the winning bidders that they in fact are a winner? Let’s talk about a couple of ways you can do this.
When making plans for printing your silent auction bid sheets, print them on three-part carbonless paper (sometimes called “NCR” paper). When the silent auction closes, the team will circle the winning bid number and remove the top two copies, leaving the bottom sheet on the table with the item. It’s very important to make sure the information has transferred through to all the copies. Have your volunteers check that this is the case for each bid sheet. Once that’s confirmed, someone will take the top two copies to the cashiering station for processing. Your organization retains the top copy and the winning bidder gets the second copy for their records. Because that third copy stays with the silent auction item, at any point during the evening the guests will be able to go back to the item to see if they were the winning bidder.
Another way to alert guests that they’ve won a silent auction item is to have a dry erase board with the winning bid numbers of the packages displayed. Be sure to put these in numerical order. This information should be located close-by the checkout station to allow guests to see if they’ve won a silent auction package.
You can also keep winning bidders in the loop by preparing PowerPoint slides that are shown on a screen at the end of the evening with the package numbers and winning bid numbers displayed. You can use other formats (Word doc, Excel spreadsheet, etc.) if you don’t have access to PowerPoint software.
There are more elaborate ways to notify guests. One of these includes delivering invoices/receipts to the guests’ tables. To facilitate this, you’ll need auction software capable of pre-swiping credit cards at check in. Furnishing receipts to your guests allows them to go directly to pick up their items, eliminating the need for them to stand in a checkout line.
Getting the word out to your silent auction winners will help the check-out and pick-up process run more smoothly.
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