Let me preface this subject with two quick stories.
While flying back from Eugene, OR, after last weekend’s auction, I had lots of time to watch some movies, including Life Itself. The movie is a documentary about Roger Ebert, the Chicago Sun-Times’ film critic who recently died of cancer.
Ebert shared an amusing story about the challenge of being a movie critic. At work, he sat next to a gentleman who reviewed other arts. Co-workers would come up to his colleague and ask, “What did you think of the symphony’s performance last night? Did the conductor do a good job?” The critic would give his opinion and the co-workers wouldn’t say a word.
Then the co-workers would turn to Ebert to ask what he thought about a particular movie. Ebert would give his opinion, and his co-workers would unabashedly disagree, explaining why Ebert was wrong.
The point: The more familiar the subject (symphony performance versus movie), the more likely one will believe they know as much as (or more than) the critic.
Lately the news has been filled with the debate on immunization. Some parents are vehemently opposed; others are shocked that a parent would not immunize their child.
In this video, comedian Jimmy Kimmel asks doctors to share their opinions. In short, the doctors say: “We went through 12 years of medical school and you think you know more about the human body after reading a post on a Facebook page? Parents please, get your kid immunized.”
The point: When it comes to knowing what’s best for their child, some parents believe they know as much as (or more than) the doctor.
With those two snippets as a backdrop, here’s the crux of my next three blog posts.
Every auctioneer in the USA could tell an Auction Chair that bidders should use auction bid numbers (instead of names) at the auction. Even so, some Auction Chairs won’t believe it.
They’ll insist that guests will bid more when they know who they are bidding against. That means (in the Auction Chair’s mind) that guests need to use their names.
Let’s review this approach in three posts, each examining one element of the auction:
Let’s examine this in light of three core auction areas.
- The first post looked at the benefits of using numbers in a Fund a Need.
- The second post examined the use of numbers in the live auction.
- The third post turns to using numbers in the silent auction.
Why you might want to avoid using names in a Fund a Need
After a recent school auction, I spoke with a donor who had given $5000 in the Fund a Need. She and another guest were chatting with me when the donor said, “I liked how you didn’t call out my name during the Fund a Need. It depends on the crowd, but I don’t always want people to know I’m giving!”
She went on to explain that the person serving as auctioneer in prior years had known the crowd “a bit too well” and would call out and thank people by name. “There have been events I’ve attended where I didn’t give money, simply because I didn’t want it to be known that I gave a certain amount to that nonprofit.”
As an outsider to the crowd, I don’t know who has the money; I treat everyone equally. But even so, I could stage the auction in such a way that would allow me to say names.
For instance, some auctioneers (professional or otherwise) will keep an Excel list of guests on their podium, in bid number order. A quick glance at the bid number and back down to the Excel sheet enables one to verbally say the name of the guest who is donating, thereby allowing a personal thank you to “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”
Though it might be a nice touch in some crowds, I’ve not taken that approach and prefer not to, because of the story just shared.
In a Fund a Need whereby you’re asking people to raise their paddle and pledge money, using bid numbers allows guests to give in a semi-private way. The public pressure to give is certainly present, but there is some anonymity in giving in a crowd.
In future posts we’ll look at why it’s best to avoid using names during a live auction, and why it’s not good to ask guests to write down their name in the silent auction.
Thoughts? Post below …
Julie Brink says
Thank you for your thoughts on numbers vs. names! We’ve used numbers for years, and I’m glad we do.
I don’t appreciate your using the vaccination issue as one of your examples. There’s more to the story than what the media portrays. The vaccination industry has, at times, misled parents (and providers) regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and their research hasn’t always been conducted in an unbiased manner. The media and government refuse to acknowledge that there’s any cause for concern. Please check out nvic.org [National Vaccine Information Center] for more information.
Sherry Truhlar says
Julie, thanks for the comment! Honestly, as I don’t have children, I’ve put no brainpower into diving into the immunization debate. My point — and perhaps it didn’t come across well — is that for many people, our own life experience will shape our opinions, regardless of whatever any presumed “expert” says. It’s a bit like when your parents tell you who you should date; it’s irrelevant to you.
So … I’ll keep harping on using numbers in auctions. And some auction planners will keep harping on using names. 🙂