April 27, 2018
From the fundraising planning committee to the staff cleaning up after an event, every person in the process of throwing a gala auction or other event for a non-profit is important in his or her own way.
But this week, we want to turn our attention toward the auctioneers, those who keep the party going while making sure that you get the most out of your auction items. They’re also informal advisors, with years of knowledge in terms of what makes gala events work. And they’re great at working a room, as well, making everyone comfortable and encouraging big bids.
April 30 through May 5 is National Auctioneers Week, and to prep you for this celebration, we wanted to try to summarize all that the auctioneer does for you and your fundraising auction.
First, there’s the pre-auction planning. If you’re running a fundraising auction for the first time, reach out early in the process to an auctioneer for help. They’ve seen it all and can help guide your gala event towards its most profitable conclusion. And for those fundraising veterans, you’ve got a source with which to discuss what has worked for you in the past and what hasn’t, tweaking those small details that can be the difference between a good even and a great one.
Then, there’s the auction night itself. The auctioneer can have several different duties on the evening of the event; some may mingle in the audience, others may be better at storytelling from the stage, in either case talking up your cause to the assembled. A well-prepared auctioneer can be one of your organization’s most effective ambassadors.
Of course, next comes the main event. We mentioned before why auctioneers are essential hires, and this is when we see the full tool kit come out. Keeping the auction running smoothly, while driving up bids on auction lots, entertaining the audience and still pushing your non-profit’s message, simultaneously, is as much an art as a craft. That’s why it’s so important to bring a pro auctioneer into your planning as soon as possible; no matter how well-meaning the amateur, nothing really replaces the skills that a professional auctioneer has honed over years.
If possible, it can be a good idea to retain your auctioneer for a post-mortem, as well: What went well? What could improve for next year? An outside figure can be helpful in dispassionately critiquing your event and making sure that the next gala auction Is your best ever.
So thank you, auctioneers, for all that you do for non-profits and charities around the world!