Auction Committees

Posted in Running A Non-profit Auction at 8:53 am

You’re planning an auction for this year (hopefully the spring) and you’re not sure where to start.

With luck you’ve already booked the locale and any entertainment you need.  If it’s a school auction, you reminded people to keep an eye out for auction items over the summer. You’ve set the theme. Now what?

The are several major area you need to keep track of. If you can get people to be responsible for each area your life will be simpler and more people will be emotionally committed to making your event a success. Not every auction will have every area but don’t realize that you need one after the last week you could have done something about it.

1. Auction Journal – raises money through ads, thanks the items donors through an acknowledgment of their gifts and prepares attendees to spend on the items. The Auction Committee should be focusing in the Fall on getting ads for the journal. This push should be virtually finished by December 1 with a cut-off in early January to accommodate those that make donations at the end of the year.

2. Getting attendees to the event – This group should handle invitation design, printing, addressing and table assignments.  While this group has to be nimble enough to handle the 25% of responders that RSVP in the week before the event most of their work should be done long before it is needed. A procrastinator in this job is really bad.

3. Auction Items – this is a three-four committee job.

  • There is the tremendous job of getting donations through the door. These are people with the connections to get significant cooperate donations, patronize local establishments frequently and are not so involved in other community activities that shop owners hide when they see them coming.  These should not be people with the idea of going door-to-door in town to ask for things from shops they have never patronized. Virtually all merchants give a certain amount to charity. They will be much more generous to your cause if you are a regular client.
  •  There is the very large administrative job of keeping track of the items, grouping and preparing things for the journal, thanking donors, and preparing the paperwork for the night of the auction (bid sheets, item labels, etc.).  This committee should include someone compulsive, a good writer and a good proof reader.
  • There is the brief but intense preparing items for presentation at the event. This ranges from preparing beautiful baskets , to getting appropriate props to making sure the venue looks its best during the event. Since this takes an artistic soul, giving them complete dominion over the look of the event is not a bad idea if you’ve chosen well. They should be able to work closely and happily with the administrative person.
  • Finally you need someone to run the process the night of the event. This can be the administrative person but the group needs to be able not to chat during the crucial time between closing items and delivering packed items to bidders. (If you can strike a deal with a neighboring school to staff their auction & they staff yours you are way ahead of the game.)

4. Other Money-raiser – Secondary money raisers can add interest to the event and insure that you ‘don’t leave money on the table’ – that is, you make sure that everyone that came to the event with the intention of spending x leaves having spent x. They can also be a palatable way to handle donations that are too small to warrant inclusion in a silent auction as a stand-alone item. These may include

  • live auction  (8-12 fabulous items with extensive publicity & elaborate presentation)
  • a wish-list auction (pledge drive),
  • 50/50 raffle,
  • balloon bazaar ,or
  • tricky tray (Multiple items are presented, each with a box. People buy raffle tickets and put in a box for a drawing at the event.)

This will need a separate committee responsible for this area. If you chose to have a live auction, tricky tray or balloon bazaar this committee must be prepared to solicit their own items without asking donors that have already given and work closely with the silent auction people to get suitable items from the general donations. While tact is a great asset in all committee chairs, in this position it is especially useful.

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