Fundraising Event Tips
Our Fundraising Services Program partners with over 100 organizations each year. As such, we’ve learned a thing or two about Auctions and Fundraisers and what makes them work. Below are some tips we’ve put together for you and your event. We hope you find these useful. Most importantly, we hope these learnings demonstrate our strong committment to make every event we partner with a success. It's what we do seven days a week!
Selecting Your Auction Items (Important!):
Much like real estate is location, location, location, successful auction fundraising is item, item item. Make sure you give yourself the best chance for success by choosing the best Sports Items possible.
Know Your Audience.Every event is unique and it’s best to cater as much as possible to the audience that will be attending your fundraiser. Try to get a sense of what people would be interested in bidding on and buying. And most importantly what they would be willing to spend.
Ask yourself questions like:
- What price range is appropriate for our group?
- What are their sports interests?
- What sports teams/players are hot or most popular with this group?
- What does Sports Gallery recommend?
The objective is to have attendees actively bid on items. The more “research” you do in advance on what people want at the fundraiser, the better your results will be. And Sports Gallery's expertise in item selection is key. Since we've participated in so many auctions & fundraisers for so many different types of organizations, we've learned a thing or two about which of our items sell consistently and which are a little more hit and miss. Never fear, we'll be there to offer our advice and expertise every step of the way.
The Right Packaging Makes A Difference. A great marketing strategy in auctions is to “package” items together, especially event items (things you attend) with material items (things you bring home after the event). For example, combine tickets to a Giants’ game with one of our unique Giants’ collectibles (our Giants World Series Displays are extremely popular).
The fact is some auction attendees want to go home with an item; while some would rather bid on an event that they can attend at a later date. Why not combine the two to create a package deal that appeals to both and will typically bring in a higher total bid than if you listed each item separately.
Planning for your Auction:
Auction Programs That Sell. If time and resources permit, be sure to send an event program to attendees prior to the event. Describe the items up for bid in detail using interesting, marketing-driven copy. Generate excitement for the event and items before the event even starts.
As part of our Auction Services, Sports Gallery can provide you with item descriptions that are sure to generate interest and bids. We can also assist with any other sports-related descriptions that you may need.
Bid Sheets That Generate Bids. Like the program above, your bid sheets should generate excitement for the item(s). Don't skimp on item descriptions - effective copy that sells makes a big difference in the bidding activity. Use of Sports Gallery item descriptions provided to help "sell" the items.
Also, set your starting bid and bid increments so that they will generate multiple bids. Bidding "wars" are the key to success in a charity auction. Make sure your bid increments encourage competition for an item.
A general "rule of thumb" for bidding increments is the following:
- $5 for items under $50
- $10 for items between $51 and $300
- $25 for items between $301 and $500
- $50 for items $501 and above.
Location, Location, Location. Where, and how, you display the items has a large impact on their success at your event. Unless your auction items are a centerpiece for your event, they will not be able to realize their moneymaking potential.
Guidelines for auction item display include:
Make sure you display the auction items where the attendees will be. Items that are in a separate room or off in a corner will not generate the traffic needed for multiple bids. However, also make sure there is room around the items for traffic to flow. You don’t want people to avoid the bidding because it is too congested with “non-bidding” activity.
In short, people need to be constantly exposed to the items up for bid if they are to be successful at your event. Near the food/hors d'evours or bar (see below) are almost always good locations for silent auction items.
Display the items in a professional manner. People are more inclined to bid if the setup looks nice and inviting. Things like a nice tablecloth, flowers and decorations, and proper item display (display stands, etc.) really make a difference. We can definitely assist. As part of our Auction Services, we will loan out available display stands and easels to assist in the auction setup.
Pens, pens, and more pens... Make sure you have plenty of pens, perhaps two for each bid-sheet. The last thing you want in a silent auction is for a pen to run out or disappear. Tough for bidding wars to happen if people can't write down their bids.
Make Your Event A Party! Your event needs to be fun and festive if your auction is to be a success. Your attendees need to be in a good, and giving, mood. Things that can help create this “giving atmosphere” are the following:
Good Food and Drink... Most Importantly Good Drink. In general people will spend, and bid, more when alcohol is present and readily available. It helps to create the festive atmosphere that leads to multiple bids on auction items. It also helps to "juice" the competitive nature that often leads to friendly bidding wars. Since the bar is a popular spot at most fundraisers, don’t hesitate to put auction items on the path to the cocktails. It’s where people will be.
Music. Music helps to create the right atmosphere by making the event more fun and memorable to the attendees. Be careful though, you don’t want people leaving the bidding tables for the dance floor! Properly chosen background music can make a big difference in setting the mood for the event. And, in general, Good Moods = Good Bidding.
Raffles. It is great idea to have a raffle going during the Event for one of the Sports Gallery collectibles. Assign the task to a couple of volunteers (children are great for this activity) and have them walk around with a medium-priced collectible and a role of raffle tickets. Sell tickets for $5 or $10 for a chance to win the item later in the night. It’s a great way to generate revenue and create excitement around the drawing. We’ve found that raffles will often generate 2x to 3x as much as regular bidding for the right items.
Good Auctioneer. The Auctioneer is sooo important - he or she can make all the difference in the world in the success of your event. Creating excitement and buzz during the fundraiser, an urgency to bid during the silent auction, and a bidding frenzy during the live auction are all critical components of a successful auction. A good Auctioneer can accomplish all of these for your event.
Make sure you chose your Auctioneer and/or Masters of Ceremony wisely. Energetic, fun, and respected are all important qualities in your Auctioneer. If possible get an Auctioneer who attendees will want to impress with their generosity. Local politicians (if he or she leans the same way as your group politically) often make great Auctioneers. This is without a doubt one of the most important decisions you will make for your fundraiser.
During the Fundraiser:
Here are some things to keep in mind while your Event is underway.
Silent Auction. In addition to following the auction and event set up suggestions above, make sure you allot the right amount of time for the Silent Auction portion of your event. Enough time for people to peruse and discuss the auction items. Also enough time for attendees to enjoy the food and, most important, drink provided at the event. However, not too much time. There has to be a definitive end to the silent auction so that you have the opportunity for the last-second bidding frenzy that often accompanies "timed" auctions.
General Silent Auction guidelines include:
Begin the Silent Auction immediately at the start of the event.
Begin serving hors d'evours and drinks immediately and throughout the duration of the Silent Auction. An open bar is even better.
If possible, plan to have the Silent Auction going for an hour and a half to two hours. This gives attendees the opportunity to peruse the items and get in the spirit of the event. Always end the auction prior to serving dinner as few bids are received after people have been seated for the main meal.
Give 10, 5, and 1 minute warnings for silent auction table closings. If you have enough tables close them in stages to allow people to visit several tables one last time. The more last-second bidding frenzy activity you can create the better.
Live Auction. As discussed above, the most important consideration in the Live Auction is your Auctioneer. Choose the person with extreme care.
Other Live Auction tips include:
A good cross-section of items. Various themes, price ranges, and item types. Have both event items and material items. Better yet, combine the two as mentioned above. Always have sports items. There will undoubtedly be a sports fan faction somewhere in your audience (typically quite a large one), especially among the male attendees.
The right amount of items. Too few live auction items and your organization loses the chance for potential revenue. Too many and you lose your audience - literally as many people will leave before the end. In general have no more than 6 to 8 items in your live auction and keep the bidding moving. Try not to get bogged down on any one item.
Save the best for last. If you have an item that you know will generate great interest and bidding, save it for the end of the auction. It will keep people in their seats until the end of the fundraiser. But don't put duds in your auction early on. In fact don't put duds anywhere in your Live Auction. Nothing takes the life out of a Live Auction more than silence!
Checkout. Think through your checkout process prior to the event. By the end of the evening, attendees are generally ready to get home and aren’t in the most patient mood. If the checkout is unorganized and it takes the winners too long to pay for their items, it will negatively impact the way they feel about the event as a whole and the items they’ve purchased. It will just leave a bad taste in their mouth.
Make sure you’ve thought about the closeout prior to the event. Useful information and resources include:
- ave an organized method to track the winners and the winning bid amount.
- If possible, have a method to communicate this information to the winners prior to the end of the event.
- Have items packed (bubble wrap, etc.) and ready for immediate pickup after payment.
- Have all the above information at the fingertips of the person(s) handling the checkout (winner, winning bid, etc.) .
- Always secure payment at the event. Don't put your organization through the time-consuming hassle of tracking down payment at a later date. Also, don't give attendees the opportunity for "buyer's remorse" prior to payment.
- Allow for cash, check and credit card payments at the checkout table; make sure the checkout person is trained to process the transactions.
- The more people involved in checkout the better. You can’t have too many people helping out.
As mentioned at the start, this isn’t our first Rodeo as they say. We have been involved with more auctions and fundraisers than we can count. And we’re here to help. With our incredible auction items of course, but also with our auction and fundraiser expertise. So don't hesitate to drop us a line and get the ball rolling with our Fundraising Services.
There's nothing to lose and so much for you and your organization to gain!
Kristie Carlquist, Sports Gallery's Fundraising Services Program Manager is ready to assist you with your fundraiser.
Kristie has a strong background in retail, fundraising, event planning and promotion. She has worked with numerous organizations and charities to meet their fundraising goals, including The Bryan Stow Fund, Tim Griffith Foundation, Dream On Foundation, Archbishop Mitty Athletics and many, many more.
So whatever your event and fundraising needs,
please don't hesitate to contact Kristie and her team at:
She's ready to help make your event a smashing success.