(Click to register for my Seven Procurement Secrets no-cost call.)
I’ll be writing about procurement until then. Today I’m sharing a short story about consignment items for fundraisers.
Here’s a quick story about consignment that clients tell me again … and again … and again … and again … and you get the idea.
While working for a small gala in Florida recently, I was surprised in the silent auction room. Given the crowd size and overall size of the silent auction itself, there were a lot of sports memorabilia items. Way too many.
Knowing that the group had a connection to the Miami Heat, I didn’t look too much at those items. But good grief … all this other stuff?!
I tracked down one of the organizers. “Did you end up working with a consignor? Where did all this stuff come from?”
“Yes,” she said, “but he sent more than we ordered. In the rush of preparing for last-minute gala details, I just thought maybe my team member told him it was OK. But when I checked with her, she thought maybe I’d told him it was OK. But by then, our team already arranged everything on the tables.”
The nonprofit was sent over 30% more items than they’d ordered.
- “We told him we wanted X, Y, and Z. But when Shelly went to pick it up, they’d also boxed up A, B, and C.”
- “We told Tracie that we only need a FEW items, but that guy convinced her that all of these were top sellers, and she brought everything back!”
- “I don’t think we need all that jewelry, but they told us they usually put 25 items on the table.”
In the last minute rush to finalize everything, my client couldn’t avoid this … but here’s a suggestion if this happens to you: Don’t include extras.
Some consignors may urge you to put out everything, reminding you that you’re not being charged for it unless it sells.
But having all that extra stuff on the table does hurt you. It doesn’t hurt the consignor (they stand to gain from the extra visibility in dominating the auction; they have better odds), but it impacts you in other ways.
- Most groups are trying to sell too many items in their silent auction anyway. Adding more stuff reduces the competition for the merchandise you DO have. High supply and low demand deflates prices.
- Space is often in short supply in silent auctions. Items get cluttered as there is not enough room or tables to properly display everything. Instead of having nice displays with good spacing, your silent auction displays cramp up, resembling a garage sale. Do people spend a lot of money on items at a garage sale? Not where I’m from. You’re setting yourself up for failure by presenting items as if you are a garage sale. Crowding devalues all items.
- Having more items is more work for your display team. Even if you’ve got the space, you’re now taking their time and energy to get the bid sheets together, box up the items, move it to the venue, set it up, tear it down, and send it back if it doesn’t sell.
- Your auctioneer and the team promoting the silent auction items should be promoting items that are 100% donations, so let them know what isn’t. My crew is told to sell donations first, then turn to consignment. (Incidentally, some full-service consignors will send someone to your event to sell their own items. I love that!)
I’m sure you and your auctioneer put some thought into how many silent auction items you should have, and what types of items would appeal to your crowd. Stick to your guns.