When is “free” not free?
What if I told you that one of the biggest mistakes an organization can do is to place their high profile mission driven fundraising event in the hands of a “free” amateur emcee and auctioneer?
I have been doing fundraising auctions for nearly 15 years and professionally licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since 2005. In that timeframe, I have been in front of nearly 1,500 audiences for the sole purpose of raising money for non-profit organizations as small as a community churches or schools to as big as Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Ronald McDonald House, National Kidney Foundation, American Lung Association, and dozens more like them. They all have one thing in common… Raise the most amount of money with the least amount of costs incurred.
Sounds like a smart business plan, right? Sure, but if you look to save money by utilizing a “free” amateur emcee and auctioneer, you may have just cost your organization upwards of fifty times that expense in unrealized fundraising revenue!
Four years ago, an audience member approached me at an event, and joked “I had so much fun, and you had me bidding on something that I already owned!” She went on to tell me that she was involved in a national charitable organization, and “had to have me as their auctioneer”. I worked alongside their committee members with maximizing their donation efforts weeks before the big day, and helped frame the goals of our fundraising event with the Fund Development leadership. The end result? We generated more than three times their previous event efforts!
Wow, right?! Not so fast, my friend… Weeks following this event, a board member suggested “I can do what Jeff did, and I’ll do it for FREE!” Voila! The board member just saved the organization $2,000 by not rehiring a professional auctioneer. Fast forward to the following year and the same event generated less than half of what was generated by me the previous year (and organizational relationships were strained by his demeanor behind the microphone). An immediate savings of $2,000 cost the organization nearly $50,000!
I’ve served as their emcee and auctioneer for the last two years now… Don’t risk your biggest fundraiser of the year on an amateur host and auctioneer.