This is a 3-part blog post, explaining why benefit auctions should identify guests with bid numbers instead of names.
- The first post looked at the benefits of using numbers in a Fund a Need.
- Today, we examine using numbers in the live auction.
- The third post turns to using numbers in the silent auction.
Why you should use numbers instead of names during your live auction.
I worked an auction in New York a few years ago. The live auction process started to break down during the sale of one item.
A big donor joined me onstage to “help” with an item. We had an item (a dinner) with multiple winners. Because he knew many of these people, he started blasting through ~20 names.
“Thanks Joanne … and Bill Wright … and Julie Carter … and Singh … and 420 … and that’s the Wollfords … and, oh, thanks Bob … and 311 … and Serene,” and so forth.
Wide-eyed, the auction clerk shot me a glance of “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?”
The names were spoken much too quickly for her to write down, so she didn’t capture the winning bidders. Who is Bob? How many “Bobs” were at this event? And Joannes? This poor gal was already a bit nervous in her role, and now her “teammate in fundraising” (the donor-turned-auctioneer) had just let her down.
Beyond that, I knew that by him calling out names instead of bid numbers, the auction checkout team would have to go through an extra step researching the bidder’s name in the auction checkout system and translating it to a bid number. It would slow down their preparation for checkout.
The donor didn’t hurt the auction intentionally. He simply didn’t realize the impact of his actions. He probably thought he was being personable by calling out names!
Auctions work smoothly when best practices are followed. One such best practice is to use bid numbers instead of names.
As he rolled to a stop announcing the winners, I interjected. “Ladies and gentlemen, those names went by so quickly, I’m afraid we didn’t have a chance to capture all of our winners. Would you mind putting your bid paddles back in the air? We’ll jot down those numbers so when you checkout, you’ll get what you bought!”
Slowly, bidders again raised their paddles. We restated the winners by bid numbers.
In the United States, the government tracks us by social security numbers – not by our names. There’s a reason for that.
And in your benefit auction, you’ll find it easier to track people by auction bid numbers.