Renee is a nonprofit consultant based in the Minneapolis area. One of her outreach ventures is a helpful little WebTalkRadio program called Nonprofit Spark. She consistently churns out great content, miraculously managing to find someone interesting to interview each week (wow!).
I’ve not heard all the shows, but it seems every guest has a different type of expertise. It’s amazing how many people she’s found to provide helpful tips to her nonprofit listeners.
“When we’ve talked before,” she reminded me, “We gave tips on how people can improve their existing auction. But what about those people who haven’t yet launched an auction? What should they be thinking about?”
So yesterday, we covered that. She picked my brain on the basics of fundraising auctions.
I don’t want to spoil the show for you (you can listen to the 40-minute recording here), but here’s an overview of what I covered.
Five Steps to a Great Fundraising Auction
- Get Help – Auctions are best enjoyed – and planned – with others. You can’t do this alone, so start recruiting. Believe it or not, a good number of your best volunteers may not even have personal ties to the nonprofit, but instead have ties to the auction chair! We often get involved in activities to hang out with our friends.
- Get Structure – A general timeline of when you hope to have things accomplished … a basic donation form … procurement letters … thank you letters … a registration and check-out process. All of these are examples of things you’ll be using to create your auction. Start preparing them early on. (I shared a link to some free auction check-out training that is perfect for first-time auction planners.)
- Get Items – The procurement process is a big chunk of planning a fundraising auction. Beginners have no idea what to sell, so I pointed listeners to my Auction Item Guide, “What Sold Swell in 2012.” The latest version was released three weeks ago and lists over 100 items that I sold for over their estimated value in the auctions I worked last year. It has loads of ideas and the price point is right — it’s free! Get that Item Guide here.
- Get an Audience – I shared a story about how one nonprofit assigned each co-chair with a different overarching task. One had responsibility of getting items due to her exclusive contacts. The other had the task of filling the room with bidders due to the wide network of people she knew. We also talked about the strategy of … um. Well, I’ll let you listen to the show.
- Get the Money – From a practical standpoint, you need a way to collect the money being raised. Credit card machines are a necessity — not an option. Read more about credit cards in these two posts: How to accelerate your benefit auction check-out line and Sure, AMEX fees are high. Should charity auctions accept it anyway?
If you’re a newbie to planning a fundraising auction, this fast-paced interview will be a good introduction for you.