Although it may sound cliche, it’s true. A good Fundraising Auctioneer does not cost you money. A good Fund Raising Auctioneer will make you money. As a matter of fact, a good Auctioneer can be worth his/her weight in gold because they can raise your entire year’s budget and more…in one single night.
When your group or organization is searching for a Fund Raising Auctioneer, here are seven important tips to help you select the best Auctioneer for you.
1) Auction Industry Experience: Auctioneers are not all the same. Just as Doctors and Lawyers have different levels of experience and different areas of specialty, so do Auctioneers. Some Auctioneers have considerable experience while others are fresh out of Auction School. Most Auctioneers are generalists; others are specialists. Some have excellent reputations, others do not. Some specialize in Fund Raising Auctions, others could care less about them. And if you select the wrong Auctioneer to handle your event, your decision could cost you dearly. Your objective should be to locate an Auctioneer with considerable experience, an impeccable reputation, and someone who understands the intricacies of running a highly successful Auction, from start to finish,
2) Fund Raising Auction Experience: Not all Auctioneers make good Fundraising Auctioneers. Automobile Auctioneers are often considered to be the best in the business because they talk fast, and sell fast, selling perhaps 150 cars per hour. That rapid fire approach works well with cars, and on television (can we say “Barrett-Jackson Auctions”). It does not necessarily work well with Fund Raising Auctions because most attendees at your event are not Auction-oriented. Some are uncomfortable with the Auction process because it’s new to them. Many have never attended an Auction before, and your Auctioneer needs to move somewhat slower to cater to their needs. An experienced Fundraising Auctioneer will understanding how to deal with your audience, how to read your crowd, and how to generate more money for your cause.
3) Reputation and Name Recognition: Your objective is to hire the best Fundraising Auctioneer available. Which one do you hire? Often the best approach is to find out who the other non-profit groups in your area are using. If the same name keeps popping up, it’s appearing for a reason. And that reason is because those groups are happy with that Auctioneer’s performance and the amount of money that Auctioneer is raising for their group. Some Auctioneers have wonderful reputations and are highly regarded in the community; others are not so highly respected. Be sure you find one who will represent you well.
4) Pre-Event Ideas and Innovation: An experienced Fund Raising Auctioneer will usually have a better understanding of how to run these events than your entire committee combined. Most non-profit Fund Raising Committees have one or two paid staff members and the rest are volunteers, often having little or no Auction experience. Committee turnover usually means that experienced volunteers will be replaced with inexperienced volunteers, which further compounds the problem. A good Fund Raising Auctioneer will get you through this. They will meet with your committee prior to the event. They will help you understand what sells best, what doesn’t sell well, how and where to acquire sellable merchandise, and how to run a smooth and successful event. We are aware of instances where the auction revenue more than doubled in just one year as a result of the recommendations made by the Auctioneer. This service alone is worth any fee that you pay to your Auctioneer.
5) Enthusiasm For Your Cause & Event: You can find the best Auctioneer in the world, but if they are not enthusiastic about your event, find another Auctioneer. Enthusiasm is contagious and your crowd will clearly sense if your Auctioneer believes in what you are doing, or is simply going through the motions and doesn’t really want to be there. Your Auctioneer represents your organization at the podium, so be certain to hire someone who projects the best possible image for your group.
6) Salesmanship. The Ability to Work a Room: This is what separates the professional Auctioneer from the inexperienced volunteer. All too many groups have the mistaken belief that if they secure the services of an unpaid volunteer to call the Auction, they will be saving themselves money. But the truth is that this decision costs them money. A “Volunteer Auctioneer” is usually someone known to the group, e.g. a board member, a parent, a local politician or a local celebrity. That individual may feel comfortable in front of a group, but they don’t know how to squeeze money out of the room. A good Auctioneer can work the room, they can sense when the bidding is done, they will move the Auction along quickly, and will always solicit more bids from the room than any volunteer Auctioneer.
7) Special Pledge Appeals: A Special Pledge Appeal can often double or triple the amount of money raised at a Fund Raising Auction…in only a matter of minutes. But far too few groups take advantage of this Fund Raising tool. If you find an Auctioneer who satisfies Tips #1 – #6, and who is also effective at implementing a Special Pledge Appeal…look no further. That Auctioneer is an experienced Fund Raising Auctioneer, they understand the true power of Fund Raising Auctions, and will be able to raise considerable amounts of money for your group…year after year.
In summary, don’t judge the Auctioneer by the fee that they charge. Rather, consider all of the pre-event support, innovative fund raising ideas, auction-day bid calling, the increased revenue stream they bring, and the overall success of your event. When all is considered, if you selected the right Auctioneer, at the end of the night your crowd will be saying “Thank You for letting us spend our money with you. We will be back next year…with our friends”. That is the ultimate sign of a successful Fund Raising Auction.