Benefit Auctions Do’s and Don’ts brought to you by Los Angeles auctioneer Zack Krone and California Coast Auctions
There are over 800,000 non profit and charity organizations in California alone. This number does not include churches and schools. These organizations range from local and community groups that have a distinct purpose and goal all the way to National and International recognition. Some groups have voices in politics, business, sports, the environment, equal rights, education, and entertainment. All of whom have a number of dedicated and hard working individuals who volunteer their time because they firmly believe in the cause in which they support. Every individual group no matter their numbers or goals need guidance on conducting an auction which I have said over and over again is the most powerful tool in generating awareness and fund raising while entertaining and urging donors to commit their efforts towards the cause. Groups like the Surf Rider Foundation which promotes ocean protection and conservation or a political action committee that is fundraising for campaigns or your local PTA that wants to better the educational experience of their children. All of whom need to know the basic principles of conducting a successful auction. Here are just some of the ways in which an auctioneer will arrange an evening to benefit the cause as much as possible
Every auction is different – Every auction is the same.
There are always variables that require the knowledge and experience of an auctioneer. But no matter the variables of the size of the room, the staff, the items for sale, the nights meal and entertainment it takes an auctioneer to recognize these variables and adjust the flow of the event accordingly. A good auctioneer will adjust the timing of the auction based off something as seemingly insignificant as the meal served. It takes longer to eat a steak than it does to eat a salmon. Every auction is the same and a good auctioneer has the same goal in mind: Arrange the event to maximize the potential to raise the more money.
Crucial Considerations By Los Angeles Auctioneer Zack Krone
1) Keep them in the room!
There are a lot of distractions at a Benefit auction so we want to keep their attention, keep them bidding and keep them in the room. The Silent auction tables, the bar, the food service and if possible the bathrooms should all be in the same room as the auction.
2) Sound and Lighting.
No spotlights! If a spotlight is used then the auctioneer cannot see the bidders. The auctioneer should only be slightly more lit than the audience. Nothing is worse than missing a bid that could raise more money and alter the pace of the auction for the better.
Use a wireless microphone so the auctioneer can mingle, get personal and aide in making the night more inclusive for the guests. A wireless microphone opens up the stage and prevents an unnecessary tripping or disconnection.
“Two in the back, two in the front.” The speakers for the sound system need to dominate the room. The bidders in the back need to hear just as much as the bidders in the front. The last thing you want is for a guest to not bid simply because the can not hear.
Always do a sound and lighting check prior to guest arrival. The sound should always be a little louder than what is needed in sound check because the room will not be empty when the show begins
3) Train the Volunteers.
Whether it is weeks or days in advance (never the day of) the volunteers who are kind enough to be a part of the auction team need to know what they are doing. An auctioneer knows exactly what a clerk, a runner and a ring person are supposed to do in any given circumstance. I always prefer to be involved with the process. Although showing up for one night only is perfectly acceptable the ability to maximize a smooth auction will maximize a successful auction.
Nothing should impede upon the view between auctioneer and guests. No tall center pieces, no balloons on the tables or chairs, no wacky table arrangements.
5) Registration and Setting up
The very first thing a guest should see in plain sight is the welcome table/bidder registration. Their invitation and names are taken. Their name and contact information is already on their pre written bidder registration card so they do not have to fill it out at the table. This creates a long line which can detour them from registering. They sign their bidder card (which has the terms and conditions of the auction on it) An imprint of their credit card is taken; they are given a bidder number and a program and they are free to move on. The welcome staff should have 2 boxes with A-Z tabs for signed and unsigned bidder registration cards. Guests should always be able to pre register either online, via phone, mail, fax, email, or courier pigeon. Nothing should stand in the way of pre registering a guest for the auction.
The cashier and clerk team handle payment and distribution of the goods to the winning bidders. Bidders should not be able to collect their items until the end of the auction. The bidders give their bidder number and the clerk gives them their amount due. Acceptable forms of payments should be cash, check or credit card. No Money Orders, cashier checks or bank checks. If the bidders say they would like to pay via credit card, the clerk or the cashier must verify that the imprint of their Credit card was taken. Verify the name and expiration date. The clerk will issue a receipt the winning item and mark their list as paid.
The point is make the check in and check out procedures as smooth as possible. The better the registration the better the check out will be and people will leave with a sense of how much fun they had.
6) The Gauntlet
Just after a guest has registered for the auction they should flow through a series of tables or booths before entering through the silent auction tables. These booths will be accepting donations for different causes within the organization, raffle registration. All raffles are Cash or check Only! They cannot enter the raffle via the credit card info previously provided. This would cause nothing short of a migraine and lost funds when the auction is concluded. It is a great idea to have these booths set up in close proximity to a bar. If there is only one bar in the room then the event should have two booths for the same raffle. One in the gauntlet and one near the bar. Never discount the power of impulsive buying.
The order of the nights events are paramount. If there is more entailed for the evening than the auction it is imperative to follow this structure. The comedy gets them laughing and warmed up for the auction. The band thanks them and entertains them. An auction should never open or close the event. It always needs to be sandwiched. If the auction is too early the guests aresnt settled and feel like they are being prodded for money as soon as they walk in the door. If the night is closed by the auction the guests are tired and want to go home. Either way the event is losing crowd participation and money.
8) Hold a meeting
Make sure everyone is on the same page from the auction team to the event coordinator organizers, entertainers to the wait staff. Everyone needs to know their job and what to do at any given time.
For more questions Visit the FAQ page or ask Zack Directly at the contact page!