A well-run auction fundraising event offers something for everyone, with a goal for everyone to have fun. Something is always going on to see or do. The event’s main attraction is the live auction.
An effective auction unfolds like a staged play, with a cast of characters and an audience.
Auctioneers, spotters, runners, and models work together to present exciting visual imagery of the auction items. Auction players tantalize bidders with descriptions and testimonials from the stage while players on the event floor directly engage bidders.
The actors in this stage play involve the bidders and onlookers in an intense drama of rapid-fire bidding and entertaining competition. Side conversations are held with bidders and then repeated for all to hear. Models carry wearable fashion items or jewelry to bidders to “try on.” A rideable “green” lawn mower zooms between tables as bidders vie with each other to win it. A big motorcycle onstage is started with a roar. Bidders are pitted against each other, but always in a fun way.
The auction is a grand play, in motion and in the round, because everyone at a truly effective charity auction becomes part of the play.
Around the auction floor are side acts. These are all fundraising opportunities, such as bucket raffles and silent auctions under way when the auction floor is silent. There can be an arcade with games of skill and chance or an exhibit area for event sponsors or merchandisers.
Attendees are enticed to spend a little here, play a game there, take a chance at three-for-a-dollar, and so on. A well-run event has workers who know how to entice attendees to spend. And there can be other attractions, some of which are free and add to the excitement. Food of various descriptions and things to buy are available.
The fundraising event is a friendly, fun place, but don’t be fooled. Everything about a fundraising event is geared to enticing the person who enters the gate to “donate.” Even “free” attractions are mere enticements to draw the crowd into fundraising activities. Silent and live auctions, raffle boards, bucket raffles, games, and merchandise sales booths are all there for one reason only: to entice attendees to part with their money for a cause.
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Adapted from the book, Money for the Cause: A Complete Guide to Event Fundraising and an earlier more expansive blog titled Fundraising events can be like a real circus! by Rudolph Rosen.
(c) Rudolph Rosen, 2012