On the heels of my post “Where to cut costs in your benefit auction,” here is a post on where to invest.
Whether you are a volunteer Gala Chair or a paid Special Events Manager, you want your charity auction to be a financial success. Let’s look at some smart investments.
1. Invest your time upfront in placing volunteers into appropriate roles where they can shine.
Not all volunteers are created equal. To ensure fewer headaches later, make an effort early in the process to get to know your volunteers and committee members. Learn their interests and strengths.
Two years ago my friend launched the first-ever Reading Festival in her Kansas hometown with the help of her Altrusa Club members. As a former human resources manager, interviewing club members for the right volunteer role came easily to her. Sometimes the “interview” was a simple meeting over lunch which provided my friend with enough information to determine if her fellow Club member was the best fit for a particular committee.
You could do the same. Share a coffee or lunch with your potential volunteer.
The other advantage of interviews is that you begin to establish a relationship. Developing an individual connection early-on will help your working relationship down the road.
2. Focus on making high-impact decisions.
Once you’ve invested the time to place people in proper jobs, get out of the way of your team and keep your attention on the big goal.
They have their goals and/or budget from you, so you can focus on making big-picture decisions. You don’t need to worry about the color of the napkins. Focus on whatever will make your charity auction a success in the eyes of your organization. It might be hitting a specific financial target … or providing a memorable ceremony for the community leader awards.
3. Invest in the best vendors you can find.
Whether you are selecting a production company, a caterer, or a benefit auctioneer, you will never second-guess yourself if you hire the best you can find. Save yourself from headaches by investing for success.
When I was in high school, Skaggs Alpha Beta (since bought out by Jewel-Osco, then Albertson’s) opened a grocery store in a nearby town. My cost-conscious Mom asked the bakery department manager where the “day old” baked goods were marked down and sold. The Manager told my Mom that Skaggs didn’t sell any day-old cakes. Cakes that weren’t sold were thrown out with the garbage.
“WHAT?” my Mom was horrified, “PERFECTLY GOOD CAKES ARE BEING THROWN AWAY?!”
The Manager told my Mom, “People never remember the deal they got on the cake. They remember that the cake tasted stale. We only sell fresh cakes.”
If the sound system doesn’t work at your event, or if your charity auctioneer doesn’t handle the appeal correctly, is your group going to remember the great bargain they got on the auctioneer? Or will they remember the mistakes he made?
4. Go with your gut feeling, heart, intuition, or whatever you want to call it.
Earlier this fall I bought a pricey training package. When I purchased it, I didn’t know exactly how I would pay for it.
That said, I wasn’t in a panic, and I certainly was not experiencing buyer’s remorse. In contrast, I was excited! I knew in my heart that when I stepped out to accept that package, my investment would pay off.
Personally I’d rather temporarily live in a “I wonder how this is going to work out” mode than permanently live in a “I wonder what would have happened if....” mode. For me, something felt right and I acted on my feeling.
I encourage you to do the same as you work on your day-to-day tasks.
Make the phone call to a potential donor when you are excited to do so; not when you are dreading the talk. Send an email when you are inspired.
Not every action will give you a positive or negative urge, but some of those bigger decisions … the larger “risks” in your mind … will push your buttons one way or another.