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Silent Auction Planning

January 23rd, 2010 Posted in Fundraising

Careful Planning Ensures Silent Auction Success
By Valarie Minetos

A silent auction’s success hinges on organized, thoughtful planning balanced with an organization’s available resources. In organizing a silent auction, it is critical to assess and determine specific goals from top to bottom.

Have a road map
If you previously held a silent auction, review your results to identify the areas you would like to improve. It this is your first silent auction, be realistic in setting your goals. Once financial goals are defined, consider the ‘soft’ goals. How can your organization’s prestige and profile be enhanced? Are you using staff and volunteers appropriately? How will you recognize donors? Human resource allocation, data, project and time management are all key elements in making your event a success.

Managing volunteers
The chairperson’s role should be that of a manager, focusing on the overall process and delegating resposibilities. Individual strengths and talents should be assessed to recruit the right volunteer for each job. Computer skills, creativity and project management experience are a few of the talents you might look for in your staff and volunteer pool. Ideally, your key volunteers will groom an eventual replacement, so that each person taking an important job will already be familiar with it and with your organization.

Technology tip
A variety of great auction software is now available that can help organize and centralize many tasks and even reduce the number of volunteers needed. Some software packages will enable you to create event materials such as item display signs, live auction bid paddles, an auction catalo, and certificates. Other capabilities might include table assignments, management of ticket sales, reports for event statistics and automated printing of mailing lists, mailing labels and nametags. Do your homework to find out which auction software is best for you and your organization.

Avoiding common pitfalls
Typically, there are two points during a silent auction that will make or break its success. Both points involve information management and processing.

Registration- Effective communication is the key to a smooth registration process. Guests should be told ahead of time about the check-in procedure: Is it by the guest’s last name? By host’s name? Bye the name of their company? You’ll need to establish your policy on ticket purchases at the door and communicate it to potential attendees in your pre-event materials. You should clearly communicate when the auction closes and how the closing will be announced. Be sure to gather credit cared and contact information during registration, otherwise it may be impossible to track down winning bidders who leave the event without checking out.

Checkout- Too often, a chaotic checkout process can spoil what had been an otherwise flawless event. Be sure to schedule plenty of time between the close of the auction and the checkout so you can identify high bidders and prepare invoices for pick-up. Use plenty of volunteers to process guests efficiently and match them with their items. Remember, the checkout is the last impression that guests will have of your silent auction and of your organization!

Valarie Minetos manages sales and marketing for AuctionStar® software package.  For information, visit website , or call (713) 665-1231.

4 Responses to “Silent Auction Planning”

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