This is just a place for me to make a suggestion, share a thought, answer a question or maybe even rant a bit...
I believe that failing to hire a professional, charitable event auctioneer for your event is often the greatest mistake an event committee can make. Do not let a board member try their hand at auctioneering in order to "save some money". Do not let the celebrity pretend to be an auctioneer. Do not assume that the local farm, estate or automobile auctioneer has the skills necessary to call in the high energy, active environment that is present at most charitable events. A professional auctioneer who specializes in charitable and benefit events can justify their cost on one or two lots. Saving a few dollars will cost you far more than you might ever realize. Check references and go watch the potential auctioneer call at another event before committing. If you are going to ask the auctioneer to conduct a cash appeal or paddle raise be particularly sure they have experience in this specific form of ask and check references!
Many organizations ask me to critique their event in an effort to ensure future events are even bigger and better. Recently, I was asked to critique an event whose organizers greatest shortcoming was the inability to focus and decide what they wanted their event to be. The event, billed as a gala, ended up being anything but, gala. It attempted to be a donor search; an employee, volunteer and client recognition event; a summary of successes over the past 10 years; a client testimonial opportunity; a building project update; a donor recognition; a dinner; an opportunity for local children to dance; a musical performance; a dance and finally….a fundraiser!!! TO MUCH!!! The guests became disinterested and clearly bored. Many left for the exits early or congregated in the lobby missing almost everything the organizers hoped they would hear. My advice is to focus your goals for the evening. If you try to do too much you will not do anything well. Keep your agenda tight with speeches that are short, personal, heart warming and compelling. Most often guests come to an event with two or three simple priorities. They want to hear that your charitable cause is worthy of their support, they would like an opportunity to support your cause and they want to have an enjoyable evening or afternoon.
On another note… if you are hosting a fundraising event do not be embarrassed to fundraise. Often I meet event hosts who say things like the caterer doesn’t want us to interrupt the meal service or the event planner thinks we should only have 2 or3 auction items so we can get dancing sooner. Please try to remember you are primarily hosting a fundraising event at which, a dinner will be served and it is reasonable to expect that guests will enjoy the fundraising components of the evening as much as they enjoy dancing and socializing. If they don’t, you have the wrong auctioneer.
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