Silent Auction Process

Posted in Running A Non-profit Auction at 8:06 pm

It’s the night of the Auction. The room is glamorous, people are having a good time, everyone admires the items. Just one small problem – you need to start closing and no one has bid. Don’t panic.  People know they’re at the auction to give money to your cause but they like a bargain too. They are going to bid at last moment. Extending the time does not change this dynamic – it just ruins the dinner.

Closing The Auction

Watch for the bid sheet filling up for hot items. Additional sheets should be added to this item and carefully labeled page 2, 3 etc. Also keep an eye on the location of bid sheets. Sometimes bidders pick up the clip boards to read and place them down at some distance from the item.  This will confuse other bidders and result in lower bids.

Unless you have fewer than 60 items, close the auction in sections.  Give a five minute warning, a 1 minute warning and a countdown. Make it a very slow countdown if there is a bidding war going on.  Your object is to allow everyone to give as much money as they want to for an item without dragging the affair on all night.  

When the announcer says section X is closed, carefully trained volunteers should place a line in the space under the last name of those items in the closed section.  Make sure the volunteers know which section is being closed and only mark items in that section.  Bid sheets should be collected immediately and taken to the computer person.  Empty clip boards should be removed and packed in boxes.

This should be repeated at approximately five minute intervals for the remaining items.

Preparing Items To Be  Claimed

As soon as the guests clear the room the administration team needs to pack away all props (you don’t want winners to think the props are part of the prize and take them home) and pack all items in their boxes or protective bubble-wrap envelops.  Any packing for items should be under the table that has the item on it.  If the items are not in numeric order they should be moved into numeric order. Tables should be labeled with a range of paddle numbers to allow for assembled items to be placed in numeric order by winning paddle number.

Preparing Packing Slips

Meanwhile the computer person and their partner will be entering all the winning bids into the computer. (Don’t forget the program must be in Auction Mode under Settings.)The computer person enters the item number, paddle number and winning bid into the program. If the bid sheet has a letter on the bottom, multiple winners should be entered – B= top 2 winners; C = top 3 winners, etc. As each bid is entered the bid sheet is passed to the partner and filed in numeric order.

As soon as all bids are entered the packing slips are printed.  it is fastest to print in groups of 10. As soon as packing slips start to print they should be passed to the packing team to assemble the winners’ items.

Once the packing slips start printing note the total of the silent auction and send it to the Live Auction Chair.

Preparing Invoices

Once all the packing lists have been printed the invoice header should be changed from packing list to Winner’s Copy under invoice format header and a second complete set should be printed. Asssuming odd paddle numbers were given to those who have a credit card on file, place a sticker on the odd buyers thanking them for leaving their credit card on file and asking them to go directly to item pickup. If the winner only has gift certificates, the gift certificates should be attached to the  invoice.  Fold the invoice in thirds so that the name shows. The invoices should be kept in piles for each table.

 Then the Winner’s Copy should be changed to Cashier Copy and all even bidder number invoices should be printed. These invoices should have the payment information stickers placed on them and then folded in thirds so that the name shows and the Cashier Copy is on top.  As soon as all invoices for a table are prepared they should be delivered to the table unless the live auction has started. If it has already started they should be arranged on a table between the dining area and the cashier in numeric order.

Taking Payments

The cashier should encourage people to fill out the payment information before they get to the cashier table. Confirm credit card numbers are legible and all information is clearly filled out and that a MasterCard or Visa (not American Express) . Staple checks or cash to the invoice.  If someone who has left their credit card number on file wishes to to make alternate payment arrangements, place a sticker on their packing invoice  and take the alternate payment.

Item Pickup

Winners show their invoice to the packing team (the packing team should not care if they paid – just make sure they take their items.) who will fetch their items from the assembly area. It may be necessary to assist some winners to their car with their items.

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