Better Benefit Auction Ideas hit Chicago & Cincinnati next week!

Today’s question is:  What do you do that makes your auction different from every other benefit auction in your city? Is that chirping crickets I hear? If you're stumped by the question, I'm not surprised.  We planners get into ruts, doing the same thing all the time.  Unless you’re traveling the world attending auction galas, it’s almost impossible to get exposed to fresh concepts.  (Let alone the time it takes to learn about properly implementing something, once seen.) This leads me to why I’ve launched the Great American Benefit Auction Roadshow.  Over the next few months, I'm traveling to some of our top world cities « Continue Reading »

The OTHER thing to never say on stage at a benefit auction

Back in 2009, I penned an article that got quite a bit of traction on both my blog and social media outlets.  It was called, “The one thing to never say on stage at a benefit auction.”  (You might want to read that, if you haven't.) It’s time to revise.  I now have TWO things you should never say on stage. When I wrote that article, I was referring to the recession.  Some of my clients were hell-bent on reminding their auction guests that the USA was experiencing an economic downturn.  They felt obligated to remind everyone of precarious times.  In some twisted way, they thought that reminding guests of life's instability « Continue Reading »

5 ways to keep your benefit auction’s sex appeal

February is synonymous with Valentine's Day, so this month I've committed to writing every blog post with a tie-in to love, romance, sex and even lust. We've covered auctioneer one night stands,  training your auction volunteers to flirt in the silent auction, and showing the love to your guests.  Today, it's about sex appeal.  (You know, keeping your benefit auction fresh and attractive.) +++++ Has your gala auction lost its sex appeal? Earlier this month I talked with a long-time auction chair.  For 17 years she's overseen the auction and she's bored.  Her loving feelings are gone.  After almost two decades of gala « Continue Reading »

Five Steps to a Great Fundraising Auction

Yesterday I was delighted to again talk with Renee McGivern from Nonprofit Spark.  Renee is a nonprofit consultant based in the Minneapolis area.  One of her outreach ventures is a helpful little WebTalkRadio program called Nonprofit Spark.  She consistently churns out great content, miraculously managing to find someone interesting to interview each week (wow!). I've not heard all the shows, but it seems every guest has a different type of expertise.  It's amazing how many people she's found to provide helpful tips to her nonprofit listeners. "When we've talked before," she reminded me, "We gave tips on how people can « Continue Reading »

The best gifts for volunteers chairing an auction are … flowers?!?

A few years ago I conducted a study among my clients. I asked a portion of my Auction Chairs how many hours she spent planning her auction. I wasn’t interested in the total hours of the committee. I only wanted to know her hours. In the final count, a mix of schools and nonprofits submitted their totals. The survey also had a smattering of large and small galas. After compiling the results, the results revealed that the average time spent was a shocking 1,000 hours. In the “real world” that translates to six months of full-time work. Wow! For someone who is devoting as much time as that to planning your auction, shouldn’t « Continue Reading »

Spring auctions suck. Have a winter benefit auction instead.

My company has four auctions booked for Saturday, March 2, 2013.  Last Friday, yet another school called asking if I had any auctioneers available on that date.  "We thought we had one," she shared, "but apparently we don't.  And here it is November and I'm calling for a March auction ..." Her voice trailed off. Yeah, she knew she was in trouble. By my count of bookings and schools I've already declined, that is 9 Washington D.C.-area schools that *I* know of competing for donations for March 2.  Given their charity auction date, they are also competing against all of the other schools hosting auctions in February, April, « Continue Reading »

Hit by United Way’s $50,000 rule? Run a benefit auction.

The Washington Post recently reported that "D.C. area’s United Way tightens requirements for charity funding." You can read the article yourself, but the crux of the message is that nearly 200 smaller charities are at risk for losing funding from the United Way of the National Capital Area because the United Way is changing how groups qualify to receive money. The United Way is asking these charities to take on more responsibility for their funding. Charities must raise $50,000 themselves, shouldering more of their burden of operations. I'm a little conflicted on this. I can understand how some of these smaller « Continue Reading »