11 pointers to selecting a benefit auctioneer

Lately, I’ve heard a string of complaints from auction planners dishing on their auctioneers.   How s/he read every word (or totally ignored) of item descriptions.  “And he doesn’t read well,” she added. How s/he was unfamiliar with the details of the packages, even though the auctioneer had the information in advance.  “We even went through each item,” the Development Director sputtered. How s/he sells too quickly. “We worked with him for three years, and he still doesn’t get it,” a planner said. (Hint: You shouldn’t have to train your auctioneer.) How the group had several items without winning bidders. “The bidders « Continue Reading »

The difference between a minimum bid and a starting bid

Today's post applies to live auctions.  Over the last two weeks, I’ve received some version of this email from two different clients: "The donor of this item wants to set a minimum starting bid of $1500. What do you think? What starting bid would you recommend?" It’s not uncommon for those new to benefit auctions to confuse the terms “starting bid” and “minimum bid.”  Usually your donor is expressing “minimum bid,” meaning that he doesn’t want the item to sell for less than the amount he has stated.  Consignment items, for instance, almost always have minimum bids. The auctioneer cannot sell the consigned item for less than « Continue Reading »

How to choose a benefit auctioneer by understanding one of their marketing tactics

In a couple of weeks, you can learn how to negotiate with an auctioneer in this live Easy First Auctions course.  But before starting your negotiation, you've got to select an auctioneer. This article examines one marketing tactic an auctioneer may use to sway your opinion.  ++++++++++++++++ Have you ever heard of any of the hubbub over truth-in-advertising cases? There’s no shortage of stories. Taylor Swift’s Cover Girl ad was pulled when it became known that the mascara she was wearing really didn’t make her eyelashes look like the photo. H&M was slammed for putting real model heads on fake computer-generated bodies. « Continue Reading »

One tip in hiring a benefit auctioneer, and the critical descriptions you’ve shared about past auctioneers

My company's 34th onsite auction of 2013 was earlier this month in Michigan. The client was a spirited nonprofit that competes aggressively in their town, as over 20 other organizations in their area offer similar services.  As you might imagine, it's heavy competition for clients and donations.  Trying to "differentiate" is important. After the auction, the Executive Director told me that about half of his Board approached him to inquire about the new employee — meaning me. Because I was so well-versed in the history, mission, and even the buildings the nonprofit owned, they assumed I was one of the team, working for the « Continue Reading »

Should you really give that guy a microphone? (Or “How to lose your corporate job.”)

One of my projects in my last year of working at GE was planning the annual senior management meeting. That’s when all of the senior team convened in an upscale hotel and spent 3 or 4-days in executive-level strategy and training sessions.  Although we had internal speakers, we also hired outside facilitators, motivational speakers, and similar types. The vetting process was aggressive. I spent hours selecting contractors, watching their videos, reading articles, studying websites, and calling referrals. Why did I bother with such intense vetting of a mere contractor who would be working with us for an hour? Because I was « Continue Reading »

Where smart Auction Chairs spend their money

Established auction committees tend to write lots of checks.   A budget for fundraising gala will vary by group (for instance, you might have access to a free venue; others might negotiate discounted printing), but when we look at the budgets of committees coast-to-coast, we see common expenses.  And it’s not uncommon to see costs shape up like the chart on the right. So do you think that if you write the biggest check to the caterer or the venue or the band (pick a category), they are providing the greatest help to you in your mission?  Probably not.  Let's consider some examples ... If the florist creates stunning « Continue Reading »

Is your benefit auctioneer angling for a one night stand?

It’s a provocative title, n'est-ce pas? But as we are nearing Valentine's Day, it is oh-so-appropriate for us to be frank about this subject. Here's a dirty little secret: As you're calling different auctioneers, trying to find one for your benefit auction, you should know that most of them are secretly hoping for a one-night stand with you. In and out. Perform, collect the check, and leave. These types of benefit auctioneers are not seeking a long-term relationship. They hope that you'll book them for that one glorious night, and require nothing more than that they be onsite for a big performance so they can “do their « Continue Reading »