Last week I received an email.
A benefit auction volunteer was reaching out. Her charity-of-choice raises money for schools in overseas countries. They have a smaller auction (~120-150 guests) managed in a walk-around food station-styled event.
We have begun discussions about next spring fundraiser. We have found that the silent auction route has not given us much in return for all the work it takes. We want to keep the live auction, but are looking for an alternative to the silent auction.
Do you have any trainings dealing with that?
You might be in a similar situation, so I thought I’d blog my answer, allowing you to get some insight too.
Yes, you bet. Depending on your budget, here is the order I’d recommend you buy, depending on budget:
a. Rockin’ Raffles — Some raffles, when run well, will eclipse silent auction revenue. This is particularly true when the silent auction revenue is modest (e.g. $15k or less).
b. Easy First Auctions — Even though you’ve been running your auction gala for a few years, this program is designed for someone like you. It includes case studies of smaller-sized groups running auctions without silent auctions, or silent auctions that offer a small effort.
c. Games: — You will likely free up some time by not having a silent auction. One way to boost income is to incorporate a game. There are ~15 different auction games in this DVD.
If you are just launching an auction, I’d suggest that you do *not* include a silent auction. Wait 2-3 years before tackling one.
Many groups go about launching an auction fundraiser the opposite of how it should be launched.
- They start with a silent auction. They often think “it’s going to be easy.”
- They raise some money, but aren’t quite sure how to analyze their return on investment. Had they done so, they would have reconsidered holding a silent auction in year #2.
- Failing to understand the real cost of the silent auction, they turn to “improving” it.
- One way they improve it is to buy auction software.
- That helps the checkout process, but net income — if it were properly analyzed — falls further.
- After 2-3 years, they start seeking something to”add” to the auction to make it more successful. Often it’s a live auction or a Fund a Need.
Start at the end, with the live auction or Fund a Need. The auction ROI is immediately experienced in the gross majority of cases. And then — given your positive cash flow — look to adding lower-valued extras. Perhaps even a silent auction.
Want more real-life auction advice?
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