Gala season is under way and one of the most popular features of the evening is the live auction. Making sure your live auction results in the best year ever takes work and premeditation. However, following the next 10 steps is your secret to success!

Introducing: THE BEST PRACTICES WORKSHEET-10 Best Practices for a Successful Live Auction

1) Have a display table and/or area to highlight/spotlight your items! People will be able to “see, touch & feel” the items and have a heightened interest to bid on them. Is it a trip? Use fun props!

2)  Consider using easels and poster size displays raising them  to eye level, ppl can gather more freely around each poster easier than when all items are down waist high on a table.  Use mainly larger print and images.  Can place them strategically in high traffic areas. Make sure you include how many people are included, how many nights, destination and if experiences are included. Is it accommodations only or all-inclusive? These are important features and should be included. (include only key features like mentioned above, avoid heavy fine print and lengthy lists of details)

3)  Avoid using values as we want to grant our donors to bid freely without printed values discouraging upper level giving.  Values can restrict the bidding once donors approach advertised price.

4) Don’t put any values on slides, catalogs, websites or social media. (Yes, I said it twice-it’s that important)

5) (Consider using visual enhancements like presentation Slides.  This will create another touchpoint opportunity and a great reference to guide them into and through the bidding process.-Use a (unique) slide for each item in your live auction that is descriptive, colorful, and easy to read. Again, do not include value.

6) Descriptions from the stage-try not to have a long description for the auctioneer/emcee to read. (Keeping our donors engaged is essential in participation in the live auction process.) Attendees can easily lose interest in the auction and turn their attention to their tablemates which can lead to distractions in the room for others and start talking. Encourage your auctioneer to share item highlights from bullet points instead of reading complete and lengthy details that can result in donor fatigue. Place all the “fine print” and details in the brochure. We recommend having a Live Auction Item/Description page at every seat, so the donor can follow along and they are not fumbling through lengthy programs looking for the page.  Can place in each seat so they pick it up from the start.

7) Having your emcee or someone notable from your organization introduce the item and then having the auctioneer sell it makes for a fun “change up”. This creates a more dynamic moment, also a way to tap into your emcee’s talents and voice.  Gives the auctioneer time to assess and make any in the moment decisions.

8)  If you are considering the use of consignment experiences to fill any existing gaps, refer to your auctioneer for guidance in selection, pricing and position.  Be certain to understand the option of selling multiples and how it impacts your final revenues and expense ratios.  There are many consignment vendors to choose from, choose partners that understand your need and align with your mission.  Look to create a trusted relationship based on client service and donor experience.  Avoid or proceed with caution with companies that are new to the marketplace and have not been referred to you as top considerations.  Key here is Donor Experience!

9)  Auctions are designed to create an energizing and entertaining component to your event.  To capture the greatest revenues be focused on the order in which you offer your items in the line-up.  Building and maintaining traction is key to realizing to most out of your items.  Avoid lows and highs, peaks and troughs, this will ensure item optimization.

10) If you are using consignment, Make sure you end the Live Auction with a “Sweep” that gives your auctioneer the opportunity to sell multiples. This is a great way to maximize your revenues by exponentially increasing your  live auction proceeds.

Want more information? Please feel free to reach out to our team and we’re happy to expand on any of these items! Good luck and may this season be your best yet!