I’m predicting three trends for 2012 charity auctions. Two of them involve execution.
No, nothing that harsh. I’m talking about the other kind of execution, when we’re getting stuff done.
We’ve heard a lot in the past couple years about trends in technology, but I think 2012 is the first time we are going to see some of these ideas in action.
First – for better or worse – mobile bidding will become more widely adopted in the silent auction.
Vendors have been touting electronic bidding through mobile devices for a solid two years, but the high cost, the long planning life of a gala, and the fact that committees take time to research and absorb new technologies meant it wasn’t as widely used. 2012 is the first year we’ll see mobile bidding adopted at numerous events, primarily in metropolitan areas.
This fire is fueled by the many new vendors pouring into this space. Prices are falling and the technology is improving.
The mobile bidding of the past – and by “past” I mean 18 months ago – has morphed into text bidding and “use your own phone.” Instead of giving each guest a bidding device upon entering the gala, guests will be encouraged to use their own mobile phone and bid through a downloadable application or via text.
Moving forward, I don’t think you’ll see auction guests carrying around event-provided devices and key cards as much as you’ll see committees encouraging guests to use their own phones to bid.
The second nonprofit auction trend of 2012 rests with online auctions.
Online charity auctions have steadily gained in popularity over the last 10 years, but I think 2012 is the year when they will start to combine with the onsite gala auction experience. This merge could take several forms.
For instance, the final bid price achieved in the online auction might become the starting bid in the silent or live auction held onsite.
Or online bidders could be invited to place bids – in real time – during the live gala auction. This last technique has a proven history in commercial auctions but is generally new to the charity auction gala scene.
(Warning to auction chairs: this adds considerable complexity to the onsite gala. But at times, it would be worth the heartburn.)
And finally, no auction trend forecast is complete unless it covers food.
In 2012, food trends will continue to spill over into charity auctions. Small, mini, and petite is what I expect to see on serving trays and buffet tables. The invasion of cake pops, mini cupcakes, and bite-sized delectables will give a fresh look to a gala’s dessert menu.
(It also means I have less guilt about polishing off three desserts.)
I’ll be taking notes this year as my team and I work onsite at about 50 charity auctions around the USA. Stay tuned!