Generally speaking, the Live Auction is men’s territory. The competitive personality. The win at all cost attitude. The alcohol! You typically see the husband with the bid paddle raised.
Unlike commercial auctions, where alcohol is taboo for the savvy bidder, at most charity events, cocktails are an accepted means to prepare for a night of frenzied bidding! Auction items sell best when emotions are involved. A drink or two during a silent auction and wine at dinner certainly helps to heighten one’s emotions and will make a definite impact on your bottom line - provided you watch your time! When alcohol is in play, timing is everything!
But after three hours of drinking they get anxious, restless and their reaction time and hearing are impaired. If you are planning on serving alcohol, plan on timing your auction based on alcohol’s effect on your buyers. If you are not done with your live auction after three hours, alcohol becomes your enemy!
Here are 6 things to consider about your next Live Auction:
1. Timing is everything!
Timing is everything, especially when alcohol is involved. Start and end your Live Auction early when time and the alcohol are on your side! By the time your last guest gets served their meal, the first to have been served will have already eaten. Now is the time to start your Live Auction - when everyone has been served. Don’t give your guests a chance to get restless. Don’t give your guests a chance to get up!
Nothing will kill a Live Auction faster then a case of the blah, blah, blahs! If you must, save the speeches for after the Live Auction, not before!
The Ugly Truth: At this point in the evening, at this type of event, no one cares about a speech longer than 2 to 3 minutes.
You must decide - IS THIS A FUNDRAISER OR A SOCIAL EVENT? If it is a fundraiser then you must give your fundraising the priority! Quite frankly, the Live Auction does not take that much time. Each item takes me from 2 to 3 minutes - 10 items = 30 minutes.
2. Sight and Sound!
A good sound system is critical to the success of your Live Auction. It is well worth the investment. Don’t rely on the band, DJ or house system unless you are confident it will do the job properly.
Lively music intros to each of the Live Auction items provide a good transition between items and gets the crowd excited for the next one!
A basic PowerPoint can go a long way to keeping guests on track and is a great way to promote items that can only be viewed properly with photos. Be consistent from slide to slide and keep it simple and easy to follow.
Stage lighting is great for the person standing and delivering a speech at the podium. Lights in the face of your Auctioneer is a no-no. They will not be able to see the audience. It is always best to have the house lights up, again, so the Auctioneer can see the bidders clearly!
3. Starting Bids!
You must have confidence in your Live Auction items. If you are concerned that one or two items might not sell, move them to your Silent Auction.
When the starting bid on a Live Auction item is low, you will get more people involved but risk only having one bidder, selling the item at the low price. However, when you start the item at a high value, you may eliminate bidders who are scared off by the high pricing and therefore not get the competition you need to drive up the price.
If you have confidence in your items, then start them low to get the most amount of interest and bidders!
If the item is a straight donation and you receive all of the proceeds, then you are better off starting low. If the item is a consignment item or one that you put money into, then you must start at an amount that covers your costs and makes at least a small profit when it sells.
4. Potential Duplicates!
Any item with a possible duplicate, should only be listed once. Provide your Auctioneer with a minimum amount that needs to be raised before a duplicate can be sold. The duplicate should be sold at the end of the bid - “going once, going twice, oh, by the way, we have a second item if you are willing to match that final bid.”
5. Warm up item!
When alcohol is in play, it is often difficult to get the attention of the crowd. Whatever Live Auction item is offered first will not receive the same attention as items deeper in the auction. Let your crowd, and your Auctioneer, get warmed up with an item of interest that is of low value. Once your Auctioneer says "sold" the first time, the full crowd will be engaged!
6. Direct Giving!
Typically offered in the middle or the end of the Live Auction, Direct Giving is a direct request for donations to fund a specific item or items. If presented properly, this can consistently be the most profitable piece of your fundraiser.