How Important Is the Fundraising Auctioneer to the Success of Your Event?

I want you to think about the term “Fundraising Auction”.

A “Fundraising Auction” is an event where items of value are gathered, and then sold in a competitive bidding situation, either in a Silent Auction format, or in a Live Auction format by a Live Auctioneer. And since typically the best items are saved for the Live Auction, arguably it is the Live Auction that should generate a significant portion of the proceeds in any Fundraising Auction.

So why do so many non-profit groups consider the Fundraising Auctioneer to be the least valuable component in a Fundraising Auction?

The Hosting Facility gets paid.
The Printer gets paid.
The Caterer gets paid.
The Liquor Store gets paid.
The DJ gets paid.
The Florist gets paid.
But the Auctioneer … the individual who is expected to raise the lion’s share of the event’s proceeds… is expected to work for Free. And is usually under-appreciated for the professional services he/she provides.

I’m not trying to underscore the value of the invitations & programs, food, booze, music, and decorations. All are important in their own way. But each of these are “Expenses”. It is the Auctioneer who is going to bring “Revenue”… and thus, the “Profits”… into any event. Which is the ultimate objective of any Fundraising Auction.

Here is a real-life example of how under-appreciated the Auctioneer can be. In two comparable events we worked last year, during the dinner portion of the event one non-profit group sat the Auctioneer (me) at a table with the DJ, the Interns, the Volunteer Staff, and other event “Help”. The 2nd non-profit group sat the Auctioneer (me) directly next to the CEO of their organization, where we chatted about how important the pending revenue would be to their organization. Which group do you think valued the services of the Fundraising Auctioneer more?

Don’t ever under-estimate the value that a professional Fundraising Auctioneer can bring to your event. The Auctioneer adds value as a pre-event consultant. And the Auctioneer can change an event from a moderate to a huge success.

A Case Study Once I was scheduled to call an Auction for a major local non-profit group. They represented a very good cause and they had a strong and dedicated following. Their event was sold out, quality Live & Silent Auction items had been solicited, and the Special Pledge Appeal had been choreographed and was ready to go. The facility was first class, the appropriate caterer was booked, and the food was ready to cook.

But quite unexpectedly, some unseasonably inclement weather forced the event’s cancellation. Despite all of the committee’s hard work, cancelling the event was the proper decision considering the circumstances.

So the Event Committee scrambled to re-schedule the event for the following weekend.

They confirmed with the Hosting Facility.
They confirmed with the Caterer.
They confirmed with the Liquor Store.
They confirmed with the DJ.
They confirmed with the Florist.
Since they already had the Mailing List of those scheduled to attend, no new invitations had to be printed as all were contacted by email or telephone. So with everything in place, the group went ahead and re-scheduled the event for the following weekend.

But guess who they failed to confirm? You got it… the Professional Auctioneer. They thought so little of the Auctioneer’s contribution that they “assumed” that the Auctioneer would be available and at their beck and call.

But the Auctioneer already had another Fundraising Auction booked for that date with another non-profit group. It was only hour away from the re-scheduled event, and things could have been easily worked out. All Group #1 had to do was start their event one hour earlier, or one hour later, than the Group #2, and the Auctioneer could have helped both groups on the same day.

But because Group #1 failed to anticipate a possible Auctioneer conflict, because they failed to confirm with the Auctioneer before re-scheduling their event, their preferred Auctioneer had to bow out and they had to scramble to locate substitute “Volunteer” Auctioneer only days before their event.

And it cost them.

Learning Points

The Live Auction is usually where the profits are made at any Fundraising Auction.
A Professional Fundraising Auctioneer can be vital to the success of any Fundraising Auction.
The better Fundraising Auctioneers usually get booked quickly.
You need to recognize the important contributions that a good Auctioneer can make to your event.
Michael Ivankovich is a Bucks County Fundraising Auctioneer based in Doylestown PA, and serves the Great Philadelphia PA area. He has been a professionally licensed and bonded Auctioneer in Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years, has been named Pennsylvania’s Auctioneer of the Year, and has considerable experience in conducting Fundraising Auctions. Michael loves helping groups raise needed funds for good causes and one of his specialties is the “Special Pledge Appeal” or “Fund-A-Cause Appeal” which usually enables clients to double their revenue in a single evening.

How to Find Great Live Auctions for Resale Items

Hi, my name is Walt. I’m an auctioneer with 25 years of experience in the auction business and licensed in the state of MA. I own Quick Auction Service, a company that specializes in building and running custom auctions, I’m also the webmaster of my own site and have been on eBay for 8 years. Besides eBay, the types of auctions I run most frequently are antiques and on-site estate auctions, although I’ve run everything from business overstock auctions to charity & special event auctions.

I enjoy sharing my knowledge and stories of the auction business. My goal for article is to help folks get the absolute most out of their auction experience.

Whether your fresh out of the package or a seasoned dealer I think I can offer something in this article to help you with your auciton adventures.

There may be as many reasons to attend auctions as there are types of auctions to attend. Maybe you want to attend an auction to buy items for re-sale on eBay, or some other market. Maybe you want to furnish your home with wonderful antiques, or you want to furnish your home as inexpensively without sacrificing quality.Some folks are just looking for a fun night out. With a little perseverance all these things are possible.

There are antiques and estate auctions, auto auctions, overstock auctions, absolute and no reserve auctions, real estate auctions, specialty auctions where only one genre of items are sold, tailgate auctions, live auctions, online auctions, sealed bid auctions, silent auctions, charity and fund raising auctions and many more.

Can you really buy for pennies on the dollar at an auction? You bet! Many times I’ve seen folks buy and re-sell at the same auction on the same night for a good profit, although be advised, this should only be done after the auction is over.

There are a lot of ways to find an auction, but here are some tips on how to find and attend the best ones.

Visit the genre of shops in the area that apply to the type of auction you want to attend. IE: If your looking for a good antique auction to attend, stop in the local antiques shops and ask for what there are for good auctions in the area. Sounds obvious right? But listen to what they don’t say as well as what they do say. Oftentimes when a dealer speaks poorly about an auction he or she attends, it may be likely that they are trying to keep a good thing secret. Think for a moment, why would a dealer keep attending a lousy auction?

Newspaper ads: I personally like to find ads in the classified ad section rather than flashy display ads. Flashy ads are usually indicative of an auction that will be high priced, may have reserves, (a set price on an item), and usually an enormous crowd. While any auction can be profitable to attend, it is usually best to steer clear of the glitzy ones, at least for the beginner.

Here’s the minimum you want to find out before you go. If there is a phone number in the ad, call and ask for the terms of the sale. What forms of payment do they accept? Is it an absolute auction? An absolute auction is one that has no minimum or reserve bids on items. These are the best auctions to attend! Is there a buyers premium? A buyers premium is like a tax that everyone who makes purchases at that auction must pay above the winning bid price. Most auctions these days do charge a buyers premium, 10% is not unreasonable but I feel much more than that is greedy, and the auctioneer that charges over 10% is counting on most bidders not doing the extra math as the bids quicken in pace.

A fair auction will have ample time to inspect the merchandise, usually at least 2 or 3 hours. Find out when inspection starts and make sure to attend! Never attend an auction if you can’t make the inspection, not unless your prepared to gamble. Most auctioneers sell at a rate of about 100 items per hour, which is why they sell “as is”. They simply don’t have the time to give a detailed description of all the items. Since almost all items at auction are sold AS IS, there are sure to be some damaged, refinished, fake and incomplete items at any given auction. Beware of any auctions that offer very little or no inspection time.

Good auctions will usually have 150 to 400 lots. A lot may be one item or a group of items. The exception to this are specialty auctions, auto auctions, real estate auctions etc.

When you attend your first sale, take note of the 1/2 dozen or so dealers that buy the most often. See if you can find out about other area auctions they attend.

When you do find an excellent auction, attend it as often as possible. By frequenting good sales, you help increase the bottom line of that business. It’s difficult for many auctioneers to keep the quality of merchandise consistent, so good attendance certainly helps. And when an auctioneer gets to know you as a buyer, he/she will go out of the way to accommodate you, to keep you coming back.

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