Auctions are usually the most successful events for raising funds. Pulling them off, however, requires panache and expertise. Therefore, if you are considering this affair as a fundraiser for your organization, meticulous planning is undoubtedly required.
Background research is imperative because an auction is never as simple as how most people perceive it to be. It goes so much faster to keep the audience’s attention and interest. Not only that, keeping track of bids and documenting the proceedings can be quite confusing.
To ensure the success of the auction you’re planning, help is here. Listed below are the mistakes or absolute no-nos you need to avoid.
1. Not defining the real goal of the activity
The objective is the foundation of any activity. By clearly defining and stating this objective, you can avoid a lot of the issues that typically arise when planning an auction. You can make sure that everybody involved in organizing the event totally understands what he or she should be working on, so that they are all on board and devoted to giving 100%.
Also, a defined goal opens the gates of ideas that can ensure solid returns for the activity and the achievement of the goal.
2. Thinking you can manage it on your own
Even long-established organizations make the mistake of believing that first-timers can carry out an auction right. Most of them think, “How hard could it be?” Such a mentality is the leading reason behind the failure of an auction.
There are intricate details behind auction management. So, if you are just working with basic knowledge of how auctions are carried out, you may fail to cover vital steps for the smooth flow of the auction. At the same time, should complications arise, the situation can compromise the integrity of your company because you do not have the required know how and experience to address issues that may crop up. Also, you have a lot to manage for the event on its own, let alone the auction. Many things can fall through the cracks.
The bottom line here is, you need help, and there are people who specialize in arranging auctions. They can work with you every step of the way. Most importantly, you can leverage their experience in ascertaining that your organization is meeting all of the requirements for a profitable auction.
3. Not getting sponsors to help finance the event
You do not only need sponsors for the items to auction. You also need generous people to help your organization cover other expenses of the event such as catering, lights and sounds, venue, and others.
A lot of organizations overlook this vital strategy. It’s often too late when they discover that the auction’s earnings will not reach the goal because it’s just enough to recoup the expenses of holding the event. This is quite a disappointing scenario. Therefore, tap into sources of external aid for the financing of the event, too. But make sure to study the cash outflow for the event first.
Once you have studied that thoroughly, you can then work on finding as many financial supporters to help shoulder some, if not all, of the event’s operational costs.
4. Not having varied items to be auctioned
A lot of organizations make the mistake of just auctioning off signed sports memorabilia, which is a big mistake. Having too much of one item over-saturates the auction and supporters get bored quickly. Items to be auctioned do not always need to be valuable material things like vintage designer clothing, works of art by famous artists, jewelry, and other collectibles. You can also auction experiences.
These can be anything from an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe, court side seats at an NBA game, front row concert tickets, or a movie date at a luxurious film theater with a famous celebrity.
These auctionable experiences can bring great excitement to the occasion. But not only that, they are often much easier to work out than items from the private collections of specific people.
A dinner or movie date with a Hollywood celebrity, for instance, can just be a matter of sending a letter of request. And, if the famous personality actually supports the cause you’re raising funds for, he or she might turn up for the event without asking for anything in return.
5. Scrimping on promotions
Even if you want the auction to be as exclusive as possible, your organization should still allocate an ample budget for marketing and promotions. Send beautiful invitations to the members of your target audience. Do not forget to send emails as well or promote the event on social media, and make the necessary phone calls.
Aside from those, consider a press release on traditional and online periodicals, and producing a promotional video. Try advertising on different platforms on the Internet, too.
Building hype for the event is a must. You may attract more of the kind of people that you want to attend the event. It’s not far-fetched for them to reach out and request to be invited, especially if they believe in the cause or support the beneficiary.
6. Not making it fun
Big-time auctions are usually serious affairs because of the unbelievable value their items go for. However, for a fundraising auction, it’s better to make it as fun and social as possible.
An atmosphere of frivolity is known to inspire generosity. Also, it’s similar to providing excellent customer service, which will leave a lasting impression on guests. According to auction professionals, when people have a wonderful time at an auction, there’s a high possibility that they will participate again in the future, and perhaps even bring guests. Make sure there is enough food and drinks for guests as well as entertainment. Bring in a band and open the dance floor! Happy guests will start bidding.
7. Forgetting to express gratitude after the auction
Lock in the support of sponsors and everybody who participated in the event by expressing your gratitude to them. You can send personalized “thank you” cards with an enclosed report on the cause that the fundraiser was organized for.
Another thing that your company can do is to send out tokens of appreciation. Say, the funds raised are meant to support women in poor communities abroad who make bags and jewelry — why not send “thank you” notes along with samples of the products from the beneficiaries? True supporters of the cause will appreciate the gesture.
These expressions do not only show gratitude, but they also work like a form of assurance for your sponsors that something good is being accomplished because of the support they have provided to the fundraiser.
Now that you know what the big mistakes are in organizing an auction, you can avoid committing them. You can plan ahead, consult with professional auction organizers, and be able to guarantee great results even if it’s your company’s first time holding a fundraising auction.