July 20, 2018 Consignment Items in Your Charity Silent Auction
There are a lot of great consignment companies available to nonprofits. While I am an advocate of consignment items, I caution charities to be careful when using them.
These unique and often high-end items can provide a “WOW” factor to the live auction line up. And most of the time you can sell more than one package, meaning the underbidders can snag a great package, too, thus raising more money for the nonprofit.
In the silent auction, consignment items can do the same thing. But this can be a bit trickier.
Where do you start the bidding on consignment items in the silent auction? Some groups will start the bidding at the cost of the item. This eliminates any concern that the bidding will not reaching the cost of the item. I recommend that you include a bit of padding in the first bid so that you are making something, should the item sell. If you go this route, make sure the levels of bidding following the first bid do not go to extremes. This is where the opportunity to make money for your nonprofit lies. If the following bids take a large jump, the chances of getting those bids can be reduced. As a result, you are not raising money for your organization.
Another way to handle consignment items in the silent auction is to disclose there is a reserve or minimum bid on the item. This works best via mobile bidding.
I was at an event which included a lot of autographed items in the silent auction. I discovered an autographed Nick Saban item (Roll Tide!) that caught my eye. The starting bid was $225, an amount more than I really wanted to bid. I guessed this was a consignment item because of the nature of the item and the fact that the bid started as high as it did. I did place that first bid and for the longest time no one outbid me. I’m thinking, “Yippee!, I’m about to take this jewel home for the minimum bid!” I didn’t recall seeing the statement earlier in the evening that indicated “reserve not met” but as the countdown clock started, I noticed that message in the item details. While it didn’t surprise me, I was a bit disappointed.
The moral of the story is to make sure your guests know whether a reserve has been met or not. In my case, I did not bid on anything else because that particular item had maxed out the amount I wanted to spend at this event. In the end, because the reserve wasn’t met and I didn’t win the item, I wound up not purchasing anything from the silent auction. I did participate in the Fund-a-Need.
Can you have too many consignment items in your fundraising live and silent auctions? Yes, you certainly can. As a professional fundraising auctioneer, my perspective is that you should only sprinkle a small amount of consignment items throughout your event so that the bulk of the money being raised is staying with the nonprofit, not going to pay for the cost of consignment items.
Consignments can help bring unique items to a nonprofit fundraiser, items your guests will want to bid on. Just make sure you don’t have too many and that your bidding system provides that you get the minimum amount needed to cover the cost of the items AND raise money for your charity.
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