Nonprofit auctions that include live auctions sometimes forget a critical element: written descriptions. Live auction items must be thoroughly described in print for guests to feel comfortable bidding.
Keep in mind that many groups put “showcase” items into silent auction items ideas their live auction. They expect these items to sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars. Yet they devote more time to describing a $150 silent auction basket than a $2000 vacation home!
Perhaps in the rush to manage other gala details, some planners forget (or fail to realize) that they should include live auction item descriptions into the evening’s printed program or catalog. Or maybe the live auction items weren’t finalized by the print date and couldn’t be included.
When that happens, here’s an easy solution.
Provide some type of live auction schedule to help guests follow along with the order of sale.
Your schedule can be placed on each place setting, in advance of guests arriving. This way, guests don’t need to carry the schedule with them as they shop and mingle during the silent auction.
A schedule is particularly critical if you have a number of items to sell (anything more than six) and expect guests to tune-in and tune-out throughout the evening.
Guests can visit with their neighbor, glance at the schedule, and still have a sense of what item is being sold.
“I’m interested in item 18,” your guest thinks, “And it looks like the auctioneer is selling item 10. Well in that case, I’ve got time to go to the restroom, get a drink, and call the babysitter.”
The schedule doesn’t need to be fancy or elaborate. In many cases, it’s produced at the last minute in-house.
Your schedule can take several forms.
- A notecard with the items listed in order of sale.
- A folded 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper with the items listed and briefly described.
- A tent card propped up on the table for all guests to refer to. (There are usually two tent cards per round table.)
I advocate using the folded 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper method and putting one on each person’s place-setting. It’s less likely to be overlooked when there is one schedule per place setting.
Include descriptions and restrictions of each item. The restrictions will reduce the number of guests who want to “return” an item at check-out.
Remember, your schedule doesn’t need to be fancy to be effective. Just be sure to get it into the bidders hands.
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