Why 10 well-planned auction items are more valuable than 100 beach vacations.

Jeff Hammond | Philadelphia Emcee and Auctioneer
I have done fundraisers that had over ONE HUNDRED items up for auction… Not even Will Ferrell or Kevin Hart can make THAT event entertaining. By lot #30, half the audience wanted to kill me; by lot #50, the other half wanted to just kill themselves; and by lot #90, I was begging the rest of them to kill me.

“But Jeff, how are we supposed to raise money if we don’t have fourteen pages of items to bid on??”

Remember, this is a fundraiser. This goes back to being clear on what you want, or more importantly what the money can help you do better, more efficiently, or for more people. I bet that if I asked you “What could your organization do with $1,000?” that you would have an answer for me rather quickly. So, rather than focusing on the number of auction items, you want to create tiers of giving that will include over 70% of your audience in supporting your programs that night!
So how is it done?

#1. Create giving tiers.

Allow patrons the opportunity to support what you do at a level that is most comfortable for them. Make those who donate $100 feel just as important as those who donate $10,000, and you have a supporter for life – and isn’t that what we are ultimately wanting to do in the first place? It allows everyone to have a “little skin in the game”, and you will be amazed at the momentum a successful ask can have as audience members start to see their fellow neighbors raising their paddles to support your cause. It’s human nature. No one wants to feel like they are left out in the fun (and fundraising).

#2. Hire a professional emcee and auctioneer.

Attempting this in the hands of someone who is not adept at communicating your mission and goals, and the results could be disastrous. Someone may think they can yell, “SOLD!” and this now makes them an auctioneer, but an inexperienced or amateur auctioneer can end up leaving your organization with thousands of unrealized fundraising dollars – and in some cases can result with guests feeling awkward or insulted. Will those people be back?

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