Happy Valentine’s Day!
Want to show love to your volunteers? Those team members sitting on your benefit auction committees would love it if you respected their time!
To that end, here are some tips to keep your meetings running smoothly.
Before the meeting …
1. Ask each committee chair for a time estimate of her remarks.
Ask how long she’ll need to update the group on her respective responsibilities, whether that’s invitations, sponsorships, or baskets. Depending on where you are in your auction cycle, some committees will need more time to share.
Put that time limit in your agenda for everyone to see.
2. Know that not everything needs a public discourse.
Mundane topics should not be thrown out for discussion unless you’ve built time into the schedule for it.
If your group is trying a new idea, sure … it’s OK to get some opinions from the larger group. Some decisions will be by consensus or vote.
But ultimately, a great many decisions will come down to the person who agreed to head the project. Often that is you (as Auction Chair) or the committee head. You can’t maintain momentum if every decision becomes decision-by-consensus.
At one of my recent auction’s, the committee felt that it was appropriate to leave teacher gifts (items like, “Bowling with 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Smith”) in the silent auction. But the two Auction Co-chairs felt strongly that the bidding became a visible and controversial popularity contest. They nixed the idea, despite protests. (Not all decisions are open for discussion.)
3. Build your agenda around what is most critical to getting accomplished.
If the auction planning can’t advance until a venue is decided … and the decision needs group input … discuss and decide that first.
“We can’t move forward until XYZ is decided,” you might say, “I like both options, so Janet is going to share the two ideas and then we’re going to vote.”
At the meeting …
4. Start on time.
Last week I listened to my friend complain about an auction committee on which she’s volunteering.
“I dialed in and no one was on the conference call for 10 minutes,” she said. “When they finally got on, it was clear they were pouring wine. They were oblivious to the fact that those of us dialing in had better things to do that night.”
She told me that they didn’t follow the agenda, and a volunteer who was supposed to update the group on sponsorships dropped off by the time they called her name.”
And then they wonder why they can’t get new blood on the committee,” my friend said.
Start on time. Follow the agenda.
5. Allot time for praising and celebrating wins.
As Auction Chair, you need to motivate your troops.
Make a big deal out of the wins. “Jaime got us a $300 sponsorship! Wahoo!” You’ll pay your volunteers not with money, but with excessive appreciation.
6. Encourage committee meetings.
Two weeks ago I went to a Catholic school to meet the Auction Chair and three committee women. We were going to decide which items should be in the live auction.
We walked into a conference room only to interrupt two women who were meeting to finalize the auction menu. As Auction Chair, you should encourage these other committee meetings.
The all-hands auction meeting you oversee should be devoted to updating the group on overall progress, making big decisions, and relaying information that other committees need to know. But your all-hands meeting is not the time to talk specifics about the menu or problems with individual donors. Push those discussions to committee meetings.
7. If someone gets long-winded during your meeting, it’s OK to interrupt.
“In the interest of time Maggie,” you might say, “I’m going to suggest that you and Julie have a separate discussion about that point and get back to us at the next meeting.”
You’re showing respect of everyone’s time by forcing that discussion to another time. In conclusion, when you run on schedule, volunteers aren’t afraid to get involved in helping with the auction. They know you’re organized and they’ll be able to plan their day around your meetings.