Got problems getting auction volunteers energized to do what is needed to be done?
Here’s one tip: Give volunteers something new and creative to learn which also solves a problem your auction is experiencing. Volunteers will remain engaged if they believe the solution you are sharing is 1) fun and 2) will solve the problem.
When it’s fun to solve the problem, volunteers will do it.
I’ve written before about Volkswagen’s “The Fun Theory” project. The group conducted tests to see if they could influence the public to engage in activities generally considered unpopular, like these:
- throwing trash in a bin instead of on the ground
- obeying the speed limit
- taking the stairs instead of the escalator
When the activity is fun, people did it again and again… even if it took them more time or made them work harder.
Consider the act of playing the slot machines. Gamblers lose money playing those slots, but they continue to do so because they think it’s fun to push the button and maybe win a jackpot.
Here’s a process I’ve used to engage auction volunteers which might help you work with your team.
- In my initial meeting, we talk about last year’s auction fundraiser. If the topic doesn’t naturally come up, I’ll ask the volunteers what they didn’t like about the event. What were “the issues.”
- Based on those problems, I offer ideas for solutions. (I don’t offer ideas for everything; just ideas for issues identified as problems.)
- As I describe each idea, I note what they respond to as their buy-in is important. They’ll work on what is appealing to them.
- Other ideas are abandoned. (Even if it’s my favorite idea, I let it go. The ideas that work best are those that appeal to many, not just me.)
When you start sharing new ideas for the auction, your volunteers’ creative juices start to flow.
And when they are invested in the ideas, they will do a better job of making the idea happen!
If you’re stumped for new auction ideas (maybe you’re new to the Auction Chair role), here’s a resource.
Charity Auction Bells & Whistles* looks at 10 common problems of auction fundraisers and offers 22 suggestions for addressing those problems with fun, interactive auction games, activity or raffle.
Your problem might be that …
- you’re short on procured items this year
- you need greater participation in the live auction so the “same old buyers” aren’t the only bidders
- you need something that appeals to families because your fundraiser is a family-friendly event
- you have too many items and need a fun way to sell some of them so you have more room on the table for your “star” items
(*Note: We change programs every so often, and this program is no longer available. Check out the “Store” for what’s current.)
Betsy Baker says
Yes! Trick your volunteers into working and having fun at the same time. 😉 I think that many good volunteers go by the wayside because they’re either bored or feel unappreciated. Engage them in meaningful activity – suited for them – and they will thrive.
Love this: Give volunteers something new and creative to learn which simultaneously solves a problem your charity auction is experiencing.
Volunteers are an auction’s most valuable resource – thanks for the reminder to fully engage them in planning.